Obama is Liberal

Did anybody else catch the “best of the worst” examples of media bias related to the 2008 presidential campaign, as compiled and read on the House floor by Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican?

Bottom line, by a 5 to 1 ratio, Americans believe the media are trying to help Democrat Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency. Here’s the proof cited by the senator:

“One, Senator Obama has led Senator [John] McCain in news coverage for 12 consecutive weeks, according to the Nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“Two, journalists who gave money to Senator Obama outnumber those who contributed to Senator McCain by a 20 to 1 margin, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

“Three, while the media often label Governor [Sarah] Palin ‘conservative,’ they rarely call Senator Obama or Senator [Joe] Biden ‘liberal,’ even though the National Journal ranked Senator Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate and Senator Biden as the third most liberal member of the Senate.

“Four, the New York Times opinion editor, a former staff member in the Clinton administration, refused to publish an op-ed by Senator McCain about the Iraq war, just days after publishing an op-ed on the same subject by Senator Obama.

“Five, although the media criticize Senator McCain for running negative TV ads, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Advertising Project found that 77 percent of Senator Obama’s recent ads have been negative, far more than Senator McCain’s.”

Temper, Temper

In this highly charged political season, one finds displayed virtually every imaginable theme of campaign sticker, including a popular one featuring no lettering, rather a colorful Peter Max-style painting depicting the face of a not-so-mild-mannered Sen. John McCain.

The seller posts on the Internet: “Now available for purchase, the Angry McCain sticker. Show your support (or your disdain) for Angry McCain by buying the official Angry McCain Presidential Election ’08 sticker. These high-quality vibrant stickers will be sure to send a clear message to all who see it: McCain is Angry! GRRR!”

This Just In

HBO Films is developing Capitol Hill author James L. Swanson‘s recent best-seller, “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln’s Killer,” into a miniseries.

“I’m delighted that HBO is making ‘Manhunt.’ This is the most important and thrilling chase in American history, and a miniseries format with hours of storytelling will capture all the richness of this tale,” Mr. Swanson, senior legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation, told this columnist.

Broadcasting & Cable points out that the would-be miniseries surrounding the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, being undertaken by scriptwriters David Simon (“The Wire”) and Tom Fontana (“Oz”), follows on the heels of “John Adams,” another popular HBO miniseries in the American history genre.

Cheney Country

While other reporters flocked en masse to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, one of Washington’s leading wordsmiths/anglers, Weekly Standard senior writer Matt Labash, fly-fished with Vice President Dick Cheney on the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho.

“At the risk of being publicly ridiculed, quarantined, or stoned, I’ll just say it straightaway: I really like Dick Cheney,” Mr. Labash confesses. “In fact, many of the parts of Cheney’s public persona that repel others, I rather enjoy.

“I’ve always liked his ruthless non-sentimentality in an age of lip-biters and tear-squirters. I like that you’re never apt to hear him invoke ‘the children’ as a reason for peddling some unrelated initiative. (‘I’m not a baby kisser,’ he once said on the campaign trail.) I like that he doesn’t seem to care about being liked, which is lucky for him, since his approval rating hovers at 18 percent.”

Obviously, it could not have been easy talking Mr. Cheney into embarking on a 10-mile float trip through God’s country with a Washington reporter sharing his boat.

“Many had warned me of Cheney’s lust for silence on the river,” notes Mr. Labash, recalling diplomat and journalist Ken Adelman once writing: “Despite pleas over the years, [Mr. Cheney] adamantly refused to take me fly-fishing in Wyoming. When pressed, he finally explained, ‘You talk too much to go fly-fishing.'”

Still, the vice president, who likens fishing to a religion, was assured by his handlers that Mr. Labash was so obsessed with catching fish on a fly that he slept in his fishing vest while spooning his fly rod. Regardless, the scribe would have to tread — and cast — carefully.

“He winces when I pull my tape recorder out of my chest-wader pouch,” recalls Mr. Labash at one point, at which time Mr. Cheney admits: “You know the only reason I agreed to this? I wanted to see what kind of reporter had the cojones to convince his editors to pay for him to come fish the South Fork.”

Mr. Labash took the opportunity to lunch with Jack Dennis, a longtime friend and fishing guide of Mr. Cheney who has introduced fly-fishing to everyone from Harrison Ford to Arnold Palmer.

“Perhaps the strangest moment for Dennis,” Mr. Labash now reveals, “was one afternoon on the river, just days after Cheney had a heart defibrillator implanted. Dennis says Cheney was reclining in the boat with ‘his head leaned back — he’d never done anything like that. I went back to look and see if he was breathing.’ Cheney popped open one eye and asked, ‘What are you doing?’

“‘I’m checking to see if you’re breathing,’ Dennis said.

“‘Well, so what?’ Cheney snapped back. ‘What would happen if I wasn’t? Will you just not worry about me? Leave me alone and whatever happens happens. I can’t think of a better place to die than right here.'”

Added Security

Not that he can’t fend for himself, but Vice President Dick Cheney might breathe a bit easier after the House this week passed the “Former Vice President Protection Act,” a bill to ensure that former vice presidents and immediate family members receive Secret Service protection for six months after they leave office.

Thank you, Senator

“So I think all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, must understand that we share part of the blame as an institution, and not just as one political party blaming the other. It is time for cool heads and prudent minds in the Congress to prevail. Americans are concerned. We should not play politics with their future.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican, accepting at least some of the blame for the current economic crisis

Gipper Phone Home

If Ronald Reagan were alive “he could deal with a lot of today’s problems.”

So remarked ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, master of ceremonies for the 2008 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award Dinner, which this year honored former Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky.

Now living in Israel, Mr. Sharansky was freed in 1986 as part of an East-West prisoner exchange orchestrated by President Reagan. An elegantly dressed former first lady Nancy Reagan was on hand to present the appreciative Mr. Sharansky with the award.

Later, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, took to the stage to praise an equally appreciative Mrs. Reagan as a “great first lady of California and a great first lady of the United States.”

Another speaker to address the crowd, which included independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and his wife Hadassah, was Cindy McCain, who pointed out that her candidate husband, a former POW in Vietnam, and Mr. Sharansky “both were prisoners: John McCain for serving his country, Natan Sharansky for serving his conscience.”

Mrs. Reagan shared her head table with Mr. McCain’s tireless 96-year-old mother, Roberta McCain, who assured this columnist that she has no intention of slowing down between now and Election Day.

Quote of the week

Charles Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — this is the guy that writes the tax codes. The tax codes that we all follow. Well, he has been found to be in default on his taxes on income on a beach villa he owns in the Caribbean. Rangel blamed it on his accountant, and he said he didn’t understand the law. Didn’t understand it? He wrote it!”

— NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno


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