In this week's U.S. News & World Report, Terence Samuel's profile of "fascinating" Arlen Specter, the "inscrutable" moderate chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is accompanied by a box of mini-biographies titled "Other Players in the Drama." Notice the subtle contrasts in Republican and Democrat profiles.
-- Orrin Hatch is "solidly conservative with a masterful grasp of the process." A label, and a compliment. But Patrick Leahy is not "solidly liberal." He is merely "the panel's top Democrat, he has attacked Roberts as too rigid, and too politically far right for the court." He's not labeled, but he's allowed to cast others as extreme. Hmm.
-- Sam Brownback is a "Staunchly antiabortion conservative who has clashed" with Specter. But Ted Kennedy is not a "staunchly pro-abortion liberal." He is hailed as "The Senate's most reliable liberal." Kennedy is "insisting [Roberts'] politics would cloud his objectivity." This also would preclude U.S. News reporters from being considered, apparently.
-- Lindsey Graham is a "conservative with some moderate outbreaks," but he also "went after Clinton big-time during impeachment." That's interesting shorthand for "House impeachment manager." But Charles Schumer doesn't go after people, he crusades: "A liberal crusader who relishes the spotlight." That's the closest thing to a negative comment on Democrats in the box.
-- Also unlabeled were John Cornyn, "Partisan and tough" Republican, but Joe Biden merely carried "presidential ambitions."
By the way, Samuel is not only a U.S. News reporter, but a weekly columnist for the online version of the liberal American Prospect magazine.