After perusing the year-end (Dec. 27/Jan. 3) issue of Newsweek, I defy any editor there to deny this magazine is a mouthpiece for the political Left. Their cover boy was Senator-Elect Barack Obama of Illinois, the "rising star," as the Democrats and so many admirers in the press have dubbed him.
But Obama wasn't the only senator profiled in the magazine's "Who's Next Issue." After the loving cover story on staunchly liberal Obama, a "news" report authored by Jonathan Alter (usually their predictably leftist in-house columnist), Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman profiled staunchly conservative Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The contrast between the two stories, both in tone and in content, could not be more obvious.
Start with the headlines. Obama's profile was headlined "The Audacity of Hope." Santorum's was "Mister Right." One represented hope, while the other typified firm ideology. While Obama would "help his party relocate its moral core," Santorum was "hard at work spreading the GOP gospel," and his "crusades" might make him a White House contender. The divergent themes were already obvious: Obama would bring moderation and yet "spirituality" to the Democrats, while Santorum threatened the GOP and the country with religiously fervent right-wing dogma.
The photos framing the stories told a similar tale. Obama was shown on a Chicago rooftop with the caption "Skywalker." Santorum was shown in his office next to his picture of "Roman Catholic martyr Thomas More." On his office TV was a Fox News Channel graphic on schools excluding Christ from Christmas. The caption was "Bully Pulpit."
In other pictures, Obama was seen interacting with staff, back-slapping with John Kerry, practicing a speech next to his wife, and kissing his 3-year-old daughter (to a caption titled "Family Man"). In the only other picture accompanying his profile, Santorum is pictured in the darkened frame of his office door, with the caption underlining his admission he smoked pot in the 1970s, but is now "in the front ranks of the new faith-based GOP." (In his 1993 memoir, Obama noted his youthful use of marijuana, and even cocaine, but Newsweek had no room for that item in their early valentine.) Santorum's wife and six children were mentioned, but not pictured or quoted. Santorum is a champion of family values, but not a "family man."