Now, President Bush has risked his entire political career and dared to endure American casualties overthrowing Saddam Hussein, one of the world's most savage dictators, a tyrant who mocked the entire international community and its half-hearted statements on behalf of peace and non-proliferation, and what does he get? Reporters blowing horns about a "mess" they hope will turn him out of office.
Newsweek's Howard Fineman began the political spin by suggesting that flinty New Hampshire Republican types were shrinking at the irresponsible $87 billion price tag as violating their sense of "Yankee thrift." Hillary Cleveland, who was New Hampshire finance director for George Bush Sr. in 1980, is now leaving the Republican Party so she can vote for Howard Dean. Newsweek is hereby challenged to explain how the words "Yankee thrift" and "Howard Dean" go together in any mathematical way.
Fineman's spin is encapsulated in his quotation of polltaker John Zogby: "The president has handed Democrats a huge issue called '87 billion' ... That much money crystallizes everyone's concerns about the war." He also desperately inflated how Sen. John McCain is now making comparisons between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War, even as the senator attempted not to sound as crazy as media liberals by insisting "I'm not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam."
In short, Fineman's article reads as if he was given the following instructions from editors: "Please be the wind beneath Howard Dean's wings."
Newsweek is not alone. Time magazine has also carried sassy covers since the war ended. One July cover with a picture of President Bush at January's State of the Union screamed: "UNtruth and Consequences." And how's this for bizarre: In August of 1998, after President Clinton admitted to Kenneth Starr's team that he had lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, the Time cover carried a black and white picture of Clinton with the words "Truth and Consequences."
The snide campaign continued when the Oct. 6 edition echoed that failing-Bush theme with "Mission NOT Accomplished." For the Oct. 13 issue, Time touted "The War Over the Leak," putting Bush-hater Joe Wilson at the center of the cover and its cover story.
Reporters are succeeding in their lobbying campaign to blacken Bush's foreign-policy performance. No one should accept that these magazines are just passive players who respond with added toughness to any president when he appears vulnerable to charges of policy mismanagement. They felt Clinton's pain. Now they administer pain to Bush.