a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Weisman and the Post are at it again

Posted by Thomas Nephew on May 5th, 2007

Oh no! “Democrats’ Momentum Is Stalling: Amid Iraq Debate, Priorities On Domestic Agenda Languish, ” says the Washington Post’s Jonathan “Little Broder” Weisman:

…now that initial progress has foundered as Washington policymakers have been consumed with the debate over the Iraq war. Not a single priority on the Democrats’ agenda has been enacted, and some in the party are growing nervous that the “do nothing” tag they slapped on Republicans last year could come back to haunt them.

But it turns out “some Democrats” once again means Weisman’s LLTLC (Looks Liberal, Tastes Like Chicken) go-to source Leon Panetta — traumatized from his stint as Clinton’s chief of staff back in the late 90s — who backs up Weisman with the David Broder-esque view that everything would be ever so much easier and better if Democrats weren’t so darned contentious:

The primary message coming out of the November election was that the American people are sick and tired of the fighting and the gridlock, and they want both the president and Congress to start governing the country,” warned Leon E. Panetta, a chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House. “It just seems to me the Democrats, if they fail for whatever reason to get a domestic agenda enacted . . . will pay a price.”

The trouble with that analysis — Leon! David! Jonathan! stop fidgeting and pay attention! — is that right now the most pressing domestic agenda is to roll back outright executive lawlessness at home, and to free up money that’s being poured down a worse than hopeless rathole called “Iraq.” Among examples from just the past weeks: Condi Rice regally refusing to answer Congressional subpoenas or even allow State Department staff to be questioned; the White House trying to stonewall on AttorneyGate; security officials quietly undoing their recent pledge to work within FISA for domestic electronic surveillance; dozens of soldiers and billions of dollars lost forever each week in Iraq.

Leon Panetta et al would apparently shrug their shoulders and seek some remaining tiny patch of common ground elsewhere — i.e., pretty much the post office naming that Weisman derides in his piece. But most Democrats and most Americans seem to disagree. TPM’s Greg Sargent points out that Weisman had to ignore strong evidence from the very poll he cites for “lack of progress” that Americans are just fine with Democrats for going after Bush and the GOP — in fact, we’d like the heat turned up. Sargent:

Check out the numbers in this recent Pew poll:

Do you think Democratic leaders in Congress are going too far or not far enough in challenging George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq, or are they handling this about right?

  • Too far 23%
  • Not far enough 40%
  • About right 30%
  • Don’t know/Refused 7%

So 70% say that Dems are being appropriately or even insufficiently aggressive in challenging Bush.

I’ve noticed that Jonathan Weisman has become the predictable conveyor of Broderish conventional “wisdom” halfheartedly disguised as “reporting” at the Washington Post — and that his pieces about Democratic discontent and retreat are proving untrue time after time. Earlier this week, he reported that Democrats had already decided to “back down” about Iraq timelines — only to have that denied by Nancy Pelosi herself soon thereafter. During the run up to the supplemental appropriation vote in the House, Weisman reported that Democratic leadership was going to make timetables “advisory“– with no trace of that in the bill eventually voted through.

Meanwhile — and as usual — Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) gets it right:

[The] chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee [said] his party needs to get some achievements under its belt, but not until voters begin to focus on the campaigns next year. “People understand the Democrats in Congress are doing everything in their power to move an agenda forward, doing everything possible to change direction in the war in Iraq, and the president is standing in the way,” he said.

NOTES: “Looks liberal, tastes like chicken” line originally by stolen from James Wolcott, who used it for Lanny Davis. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
UPDATE, 5/5: Avedon Carol (“The Sideshow”) and Steve Benen (“The Carpetbagger Report”) lay into Panetta as well.
UPDATE, 5/6: re money down a rathole, eRobin (“Fact-esque”) notices the calculation that the cost to date of the Iraq War — $456B — could have fed and educated all the world’s poor for 5 and a half years.
EDIT, 5/7… accordingly revised from “tens of millions” to “billions” of dollars a week.

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