« London Pride | Main | More Reason Not to Buy Anything from Microsoft »

July 08, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Jonathan Weisman Leaves Ezra Klein Flabbergasted Edition)

Aha. A correspondent writes that Daniel Drezner does not have a reading comprehension problem, he just didn't read far enough to notice that the body of the article contradicts its lead paragraphs:

Twelve years ago, amid heated rhetoric over job losses and heavy union pressure, the House passed the North American Free Trade Agreement with 102 Democratic votes. This month, as President Bush pushes the far less economically significant Central American Free Trade Agreement, he will be lucky to get more than 10.

A long, slow erosion of Democratic support for trade legislation in the House is turning into a rout, as Democrats who have never voted against trade deals vow to turn their backs on CAFTA. The sea change -- driven by redistricting, mounting partisanship and real questions about the results of a decade's worth of trade liberalization -- is creating a major headache for Bush and Republican leaders as they scramble to salvage their embattled trade agreement. A trade deal that passed the Senate last Thursday, 54 to 45, with 10 Democratic votes, could very well fail in the House this month.

But the Democrats' near-unanimous stand against CAFTA carries long-term risks for a party leadership struggling to regain the appearance of a moderate governing force, some Democrats acknowledge. A swing toward isolationism could reinforce voters' suspicions that the party is beholden to organized labor and is anti-business, while jeopardizing campaign contributions, especially from Wall Street.

Without control of the White House or either chamber of Congress, the "competition for the microphone" has intensified in the party, said Dave McCurdy, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma who heads the Electronic Industries Alliance. And the moderates are losing...

A lead that did a better job of telling the real story would make these points:

(i) Bush makes trade policy subservient to the intellectual-property interests of the drug companies, (ii) Bush shows great concern for CAFTA's effect on sugar-baron campaign contributor and no concern for potential losers among American workers, (iii) Bush doesn't even consult the free-trade Democrats (like my own representative Ellen Tauscher) whose votes he needs to pass CAFTA, but instead (iv) tries to smear them as anti-business in order to drive them into his corner, and (v) it doesn't seem to be working as the overwhelming majority of Democrats who are usually safe votes for trade agreements balk.


UPDATE:Ezra Klein's reads it, and his mind boggles as he confronts this Jonathan Weisman special from the Washington Post:

Ezra Klein: Why Is This Trade Bill Different Than All Other Trade Bills? :

This, from the Washington Post's big piece on CAFTA, strikes me as a very strange paragraph:

But the Democrats' near-unanimous stand against CAFTA carries long-term risks for a party leadership struggling to regain the appearance of a moderate governing force, some Democrats acknowledge. A swing toward isolationism could reinforce voters' suspicions that the party is beholden to organized labor and is anti-business, while jeopardizing campaign contributions, especially from Wall Street.

First, what's up with "acknowledge"? Doesn't that mean to recognize a truth? Aren't newspapers supposed to pretend that there is no truth, or at least that they don't know what it is? So called liberal media indeed. Second, is there really some voter roundtable desperately puzzling out whether Democrats are too beholden to Big Labor? As I remember it, voters didn't exactly reward us for passing NAFTA in 1993. 1994 was not our finest year.

The rest of the article is the usual spin from the usual suspects, decrying Democratic swings from moderation and divining the deepest, most hidden, and surprisingly sophisticated values judgments being made by the average voter. Of course, no mention is given to the many polls showing the public's split on NAFTA. The article simply speaks to those who know that on a truer, more subconscious level, the American voter flees the protectionist politician...

The fact that the White House likes a lead that says:

Democrats are not voting for Bush's CAFTA and are thus demonstrating that they are not responsible: isolationists, union puppets, not to be trusted with office, extremists.

is not a reason for a *Post* editor to let such lead paragraphs into the newspaper.

Posted by DeLong at July 8, 2005 11:34 AM