Wednesday, 07 March 2007


Ken Berwitz

Based on my headline, you might get the impression that today's blog must be about Hillary Clinton's health care debacle in 1993/1994.  Nope.

My headline relates to the tender loving care being given to Hillary Clinton by the New York Times.

In "The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics" I commented that the Times ought to rehire Jayson Blair, for the boost it would give to their credibility.  And the Times seems determined to prove me right with almost every edition.  The way they flak for Hillary Clinton on their news pages is just one of many examples, but a particularly blatant one.

The New York Times wants Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008 and to win the presidency (thus bringing back, even if by proxy, their hero supreme, Bill Clinton).

But Barack Obama is a severe roadblock to Senator Clinton's chances, for a number of key reasons:

---He is getting a lot of support and a lot of money from Democrats that, in his absence, would have gone to Hillary Clinton;

---He is getting a lot of support and attention specifically from the Hollywood crowd, which, in his absence, would have predominantly supported Ms. Clinton;

---He is getting a lot of support and attention specifically from Black voters, whom, in his absence, would have predmominantly supported Ms. Clinton;

---If Ms. Clinton attacks Obama, as she must do to win the nomination from him, she will anger and upset both of these constituencies.  Sure, they will still vote for her in 2008 if she's the nominee.  But the money, the volunteers and, most importantly, turnout among Black voters may be significantly diminished;

---These factors are destroying one of Ms. Clinton's greatest assets, arguably her single greatest one:  Inevitability.  Obama's candidacy is pushing Ms. Clinton right back into the back.  The mystique is diminishing, the veneer of invincibility is diminishing.  She is that much closer to being just one of the candidates instead of on a pedestal above the rest.  This, in turn, causes many voters to see her in a far different, less elevated way.

Clearly, Hillary Clinton needs help.  So who comes riding in on its white horse?  The New York Times, of course.

Today's front page has an article - headline above the fold - entitled "Obama, in Brief Investing Foray In '05, Took Same Path as Donors".  The first three paragraphs are:

Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu.  In March, 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of it's shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees.

Now that Obama has been made to look like a dirty little inside-trading weasel, the article tells you that:

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party's presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks.  He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.

You see, these stocks were bought when Senator Obama's funds were in a blind trust.  That's in the fifth paragraph, long after many people have gone onto another article with the "knowledge" of how dirty Obama is.

Then we move to the seventh paragraph, which concludes:

There is no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months that he owned the stocks.

In other words, Barack Obama did nothing wrong.  He didn't benefit from what he did and, in fact, was financially damaged by it.  His donors didn't benefit from it.

So why is this even IN the New York Times, let alone on it's front page? 

Because Queen Hillary is in trouble and the New York Times, ever mindful of its position as "the paper of record", is shredding its credibility - again - to get that tiara back on her head.

By comparison to what passes for news at the Times these days, Jayson Blair was a paradigm of journalistic professionalism. Where is he when they need him?


Ken Berwitz

Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh, cry or just shake your head in amazement.

John Edwards was interviewed by David Kuo for a website called  You can read the entire interview at

During the interview Edwards was asked "What parts of American life do you think would most outrage Jesus?"

His answer (bold print is mine):

"Our selfishness.  Our resort to war when it's not necessary.  I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs.  I think he would be appalled, actually."

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it?  Well, now read this AP dispatch that ran in the Wilmingon Star-News and see if you're still as impressed.  You can read the entire article at    As before, the bold print is mine:.

Extravagance of Edwards home draws criticism

The Chapel Hill home of presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, includes a gym, a pool, a racquetball court, and a 10,778 square

It's not hard to imagine 'The Barn' becoming a headquarters for staff and Secret Service agents.
By Mike Baker,
Associated Press

Chapel Hill | President Bush has the "Western White House" at his ranch in Texas. Should John Edwards win the race to replace him, he'll have a "Southern White House" ready to go.

Sitting on 102 secluded acres surrounded by trees and defended by no-trespassing signs, the 28,000-square-foot unfinished estate that Edwards and his family call home has presidential privacy. It also has presidential amenities, and it can be argued, is a sign of presidential ambitions.

A main home that could easily be called a mansion boasts five bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths. It's connected by a covered walkway to a bright red addition, known as "The Barn," that includes its own living quarters along with a handball court, an indoor pool and an indoor basketball court with a stage at one end. Nearby, the family has cleared space for a soccer field.

And while the focus now is on recreation, it's not hard to imagine "The Barn" becoming a headquarters for staff members and Secret Service agents should Edwards move his family into the famous mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

It's not something that Edwards, or his campaign, enjoys talking about.

"Stuff like this comes with the territory," said Jennifer Palmer, an Edwards adviser. "It's all a part of the game of the presidential campaign. I don't think that voters are that interested."

Presidential precedent

To be sure, a president calling such an estate a home isn't uncommon. Bush's ranch outside Crawford, Texas, sits on 1,600 acres and is valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to financial disclosure records. His father routinely visited the family's luxurious retreat in southern Maine that bears a family name - Walker's Point. The Kennedy family are the famous owners of a six-acre compound on Nantucket Sound, visited by President John F. Kennedy during his presidency.

And there's plenty of historical precedent, too. Jefferson's Monticello is a 43-room mansion in the Virginia countryside, and Washington once said there wasn't an estate in America more "pleasantly situated" than his Mount Vernon on the Potomac River.

But Edwards, a former trial lawyer who made millions before winning a seat in the Senate representing North Carolina, has taken a barrage of criticism.

"The home is a monster. It's way over the top," said Monty Johnson, a lifelong Orange County resident whose property sits directly across from the Edwards tract. He recently posted a "Go Rudy Giuliani 2008" sign on a fence just 100 feet from the Edwards driveway.

"There's no way that a normal family could ever need a house like that. It's only going to hurt him. I don't think he's going to be able to sell his story that he's for the poor people."

The home has also become the butt of jokes. When taking the stage last week for a speech in front of the Democratic National Committee, a rival campaign staffer quipped that Edwards was going to steal a line from 2004 candidate Howard Dean and proclaim, "My house has the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

It's bad enough that Edwards is unqualified to be the president of the United States (unless you consider one term as a member of the minority party, without any legislative accomplishments satisfactory - I know I don't).

But to be this hypocritical is over the top, even for a blowhard politician.

If Jesus would be outraged by If Jesus would be outraged by "...ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs..." how do you figure he would react to Edwards' 28,000 square foot house?  Or its handball court, basketball court, indoor pool and the soon-to-be constructed soccer field, on 102 acres of land?

The new testament says that when his friend Lazarus died and he saw Lazarus' sisters crying in anguish, "Jesus wept".  Well, if Jesus looks down and hears Edwards mouthing platitudes about selfishness in his name while building a house that is something like 10-15 times the size of a normal one, believe me, it will be Edwards who winds up weeping.

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