New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse's Friday "news analysis" is devoted to Congress departing for its Christmas break amid the usual hectic end-of-session machinations ("A Messy Congressional Finale"). And it's all Republicans' fault.
"In the end, Republicans largely have themselves to blame for the muddled and haphazard finale of the Congressional session....At nearly every crucial turn in recent weeks, it was a group of Republicans, painfully aware of President Bush's decline in popularity, who broke from the White House and the party leadership in the House and Senate and forced concessions in major legislation or stalled it until the bitter end."
Hulse dwells on the alleged lack of legendary Republican discipline (a favorite excuse by the liberal media to explain conservative successes):
"The strength of the minirevolts among Republicans was startling, especially in the House, where the leadership had excelled at obtaining what it wanted from the rank and file, even if that took a three-hour roll-call vote. This Congressional leadership has been in such lockstep with Mr. Bush that he has yet to veto a single measure. That unity has now begun to unravel. Mr. Bush is not running for re-election. But much of Congress is, and lawmakers have heard earfuls at home about the Iraq war and the cost of gasoline, among other problems."
Memo to Hulse: Gasoline prices have plummeted in recent months and are currently 29% off their post-Katrina highs.
The last line apes Democratic wishful thinking:
"Whether Republicans can hold their fragmenting membership together in the difficult months to come could determine whether they have an even narrower majority in 2007. Or a majority at all."
By contrast, Hillary Clinton-beat reporter Raymond Hernandez is quite optimistic about the liberal Democrat's chances in 2006 and beyond, judging by his latest entry in the Hillary-centering sweepstakes, Wednesday's "Frustration Over Iraq Vote Unlikely to Trouble Clinton."
Hernandez's article does note left-wing dissatisfaction with Sen. Hillary Clinton, passing on the opinion of a MoveOn.org director who "said that while Mrs. Clinton had solid support among liberal Democrats, her break with them on a crucial issue like Iraq could lead to questions about her commitment to her own supporters. That, he said, could ultimately fuel a sense within the larger electorate that she is politically disloyal."
But Hernandez once again fails to identify Clinton herself as a liberal, and his emphasis on criticism of Clinton from the left underlines the spin of the Times (and Clinton herself) that she is more centrist than her actual voting record indicates. (The American Conservative Union gives her a lifetime rating of 9, the same as ultraliberal Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.)
Hernandez also soothes concerns of Hillary Clinton supporters by suggesting that the left-wing outrage won't damage her re-election in 2006 or her presidential prospects in 2008.
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's support for the war in Iraq has outraged many liberal activists in the Democratic Party, who are warning of retribution, including a primary challenge to her re-election campaign next year. But the activists are in the same sort of political bind that liberals found themselves in a decade ago when Bill Clinton defied liberal orthodoxies: struggling to bring meaningful pressure to bear on a politician who is cherished by many traditional Democrats."
In fact, Hernandez says soothingly, mean conservative attacks are just making her more sympathetic to Democrats, who like her for her position on abortion, or as the Times puts it, "reproductive rights."
"Mrs. Clinton's stature in the party stems from several factors, political analysts said. Part of it is her long record of support for traditional Democratic principles on issues like education, health care, civil rights and reproductive rights. In part, the relentless attacks that conservatives have leveled at her have threatened to make her something of a political martyr among Democrats."
For more examples of bias in the New York Times, visit TimesWatch.