"Paul Ryan Can't Lose," a 5,000-word cover story by Mark Leibovich, the New York Times magazine's chief national correspondent, conformed to the writer's history of cynical, unsympathetic profiles of Republican candidates.
According to Leibovich, Newt Gingrich is "among the more divisive political figures of recent decade," always threatening to become "Nasty Newt," yet former vice president Al Gore is a "compelling" "pop culture icon." Offered the fat target of Vice President Joe Biden, Leibovich instead buttered him up. Yet former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney didn't escape: "Critics deride him as a Prince of Darkness whose occasional odd episodes - swearing at a United States senator, shooting a friend in a hunting accident and then barely acknowledging it publicly - suggest a striking indifference to how he is perceived."
Leibovich even used his Ryan profile to take an arbitrary and snotty swipe at the "let’s say, knowledge-averse bent" of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
New York Times political profile reporter Mark Leibovich's front-page Biden profile on Tuesday , "For a Blunt Biden, an Uneasy Supporting Role," was not as uncritical as his previous profiles of Democratic politicians. But he certainly found a novel angle on the garrulous veep:
New York Times political profile writer Mark Leibovich, in Manchester, N.H. on Saturday, filed “The Santorum of 2012 Comes From a Long History of Political Brawling.” Times Watch sees a clear preference for Democrats and hostility toward Republican subjects in Leibovich’s writing, and this profile of GOP candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is certainly not a game-changer in that regard, even citing the late Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democrat and former local Klan leader, as some kind of moral authority against Santorum.
Issa's he said-he said claim of a rude middle finger from White House chief Rahm Emanuel somehow reflects badly on Issa, in Leibovich's telling.
As a sign of the pride Representative Darrell Issa takes in annoying the Obama administration, consider his account of a recent exchange with Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and now the White House chief of staff. In describing the episode -- a chance encounter outside the House gym -- Mr. Issa smirked and raised his middle finger.
"That's the only thing Rahm did when he saw me," Mr. Issa, a California Republican, boasted in an interview in his House office. He waved the unfriendly digit in the air like a trophy before folding it into a nub (to mimic Mr. Emanuel, who lost part of his finger in a long-ago meat-cutting accident). More annoying? Mr. Emanuel, through a spokeswoman, said the incident did not occur.
Every Congress seems to produce a designated pest, adept at drawing attention to nuisance issues (and his nuisance self) while making trouble for the other party when it controls the White House. Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, played that role during the Bush administration, while Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, did it before him in the Clinton years.
The Times dispatched its political personality profiler and snarkster-in-chief Mark Leibovich to Florida to report on the hot race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. In the course of his report, Leibovich ran into a conservative in a parking lot who showed "contempt" for the New York Times. (Wonder why?)
Moderate Gov. Charlie Crist looks set to battle insurgent conservative Marco Rubio in the Republican primary in late August. Leibovich's piece, "The First Senator From the Tea Party?" which will appear in the Times Magazine next Sunday, described the reporter's attendance at a Tea Party rally in Orlando, from which he dutifully filed anecdotes about racist attacks, bullying, and birther-paranoia on the part of conservatives.
First, Leibovich sat down with the "embattled Republican" Crist, the "pragmatist" battling "ideological purists" in his own party:
To many Republicans, the governor's biggest sin was his support for the Obama administration's $787 billion economic-stimulus package. That's what comes up the most, although a fair number of conservatives also blame Crist for his seemingly decisive endorsement of John McCain three days before the Florida primary in the 2008 presidential campaign, effectively handing the state to an eventual nominee for whom many conservatives had little use. They see Crist's career as pockmarked with instances of consensus-seeking, deal-making and bipartisanship -- three particularly vulgar notions to a simmering Tea Party movement on the right. Conservatives have tagged Crist as being part of that pariah breed of Republican today: a "moderate." Or worse.
Thursday's front-page New York Times tribute to the last days of Sen. Ted Kennedy was penned by the paper's political profiler Mark Leibovich.
Leibovich reliably showers love on liberal Democrats, as shown in his profiles of "happy warrior" Sen. Chris Dodd and "compelling pop-culture icon" Al Gore, but doesn't care much for Republicans like the "cantankerous" Rep. James Sensenbrenner or Sen. Jim Bunning ("a bit of a screwball").
The once-indefatigable Ted Kennedy was in a wheelchair at the end, struggling to speak and sapped of his energy. But from the time his brain cancer was diagnosed 15 months ago, he spoke of having a "good ending for myself," in whatever time he had left, and by every account, he did.
As recently as a few days ago, Mr. Kennedy was still digging into big bowls of mocha chip and butter crunch ice creams, all smushed together (as he liked it). He and his wife, Vicki, had been watching every James Bond movie and episode of "24" on DVD.
He began each morning with a sacred rite of reading his newspapers, drinking coffee and scratching the bellies of his beloved Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash, on the front porch of his Cape Cod house overlooking Nantucket Sound.
New York Times political personality reporter Mark Leibovich, whose mission is delivering profiles with attitude, mostly laid off the jabs in his Sunday front-page profile of what would seem to be an easy target -- the garrulous, gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden -- in "Speaking Freely, Sometimes, Biden Finds Influential Role."
Biden's history of colorful statements should have made him a prime target for a Leibovich fillet. But Leibovich has a habit of only bringing out his carving knife against conservative Republicans, while flattering Democrats. He didn't call Biden "a bit of a screwball," as he did conservative Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning.
To the contrary, Leibovich buttered up Biden, trying to convince readers that, appearances aside, Biden really is an active player in the Obama administration. The front-page photo caption read: "The influence Vice President Biden wielded in the debate on Afghan war policy is a signal of his stature in the administration."
New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich specializes in spunky profiles of politicians -- hostile profiles of conservatives, flattering ones of liberals.
His latest, on controversial Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, "Republicans Looking for a Reliever in Kentucky," fell safely into the former category, crammed with personal attacks ("questions about his mental fitness") and colorful insults(Bunning's "a bit of a screwball"). The headline is a reference to Bunning's former fame as a baseball pitcher.
Leibovich's latest is similar in tone to his profile of another conservative Republican, former Rep. James Sensenbrenner ("commonly described as 'prickly,' 'cantankerous' and 'unpleasant'"). By contrast, Leibovich has been quite kind to liberals like Al Gore (a "compelling" "pop-culture icon") and Sen. Chris Dodd (a "happy warrior" in a "joyous orbit").
Although the New York Times never complained when lefties called George W. Bush and other Republicans "fascist" for eight years running, reporter Mark Leibovich is suddenly concerned with rhetorical precision now that conservatives are using "socialist" as a "demonizing" epithet against President Obama's massive spending plans.
Leibovich used the news hook of the recent 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington to write a front-page Sunday Week in Review story portraying conservatives as mindless mockers of the concept of socialism: "'Socialism!' Boo, Hiss, Repeat."
Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.
As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").
It seems that "socialist" has supplanted "liberal" as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as "Clinton" was in the 1990s and "Pelosi" is today.
The New York Times and the Washington Post seemed to have a contest on Sunday to see which could write the sappier profile of Hillary Clinton. The Times carried another soft-soap job by political writer Mark Leibovich titled "Clinton Talks of Scars While Keeping Her Guard Up." Her life, we’re told, is a long series of vicious "ego-mangling" attacks. But not one source in the 2,490-word story was an actual opponent of Mrs. Clinton. It was only friends and supporters, very cozy and unanimous.
Leibovich noted Mrs. Clinton likes to say that women in politics "need to develop skin as tough as a rhinoceros hide"... "I joke that I have the scars to show from my experiences," she said in an interview. "But you know, our scars are part of us, and they are a reminder of the experiences we’ve gone through, and our history. I am constantly making sure that the rhinoceros skin still breathes." Her rhino skin still breathes? Is that supposed to be a catchy campaign slogan?
The Times arrived at its usual Poor Dear thesis in this passage: