In the Times from Wednesday, July 28, Roger Cohen's analysis piece, "Kerry Must-Sell: A Tough Foreign Policy" contains the following paragraph:
At the same time, as a Massachusetts Democrat, he cannot afford to leave himself exposed to Republican charges of liberal wobbliness. Such accusations already abound, fed by Mr. Kerry's evolving position on Iraq since his vote in 2002 authorizing Mr. Bush to use force.Practically every single article on Kerry in the NY Times -- the NEW YORK TIMES!!! -- contains some reference to the Republican-spawned charge of flip-flopping. I now despair of decent coverage of Kerry's campaign in the media -- perhaps when the campaign is over we'll be treated to a spate of self-flagellating articles confessing that the reporters involved really didn't like John Kerry personally, and that this may have skewed their coverage of him.
Rather than attempt to reform reporters' coverage of Kerry's flip-flopping, may I at least suggest that they engage in balanced reporting of the conventional wisdom? In the interests of saving our overworked fourth estate some time, I've taken the liberty of penning a paragraph that they may simply insert into any article, immediately following the obligatory reference to "Republican charges" of Kerry's flip-flopping:
Of course, as Democrats are quick to note, President Bush himself is hardly immune to such charges of flip-flopping. As these Democrats point out, after 9/11, he first opposed, and then supported, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. He first vehemently opposed, and then supported, the creation of the 9/11 Commission. He first strongly opposed, and then acquiesced in, the testimony of himself and other key officials, most notably Condolezza Rice, before the Commission. He first categorically opposed, and now actively seeks, international cooperation in Iraq -- a position to which he was dragged in an attempt to slow Kerry's growing popularity on the issue of the Iraq war. Finally, and most recently, Bush showed himself decidedly lukewarm about the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, only, a mere 72 hours later, to reverse himself and say that he enthusiastically supports most of the Commission's recommendations.Note, since reporters seem willing to bend over backwards to avoid a charge of left-wing bias, the insertion of the phrases "as Democrats are quick to note" and "As these Democrats point out" in the first two sentences of my suggested text. This serves the same function as Cohen's "Republican charges of liberal wobbliness". It allows reporters incorporating my suggested text in their articles to absolve themselves of the responsibility of actually weighing charges and counter-charges for their substance and simply to report on the "horse-race". Far be it from me to expect them to do anything else. It would just be nice if they would do it in a way that was a bit more, well, fair and balanced.