The Post ran McClatchy report on Bush speech that provided no Democratic responses

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A McClatchy Newspapers report published by The Denver Post on President Bush's August 31 speech at the American Legion national convention omitted any Democratic response to the speech, despite reporting it was the beginning of the president's "latest effort to shore up support for the war as Republicans battle to retain control of Congress in the November elections."

A September 1 McClatchy Newspapers report on President Bush's August 31 speech at the American Legion national convention omitted any Democratic response to the speech, despite reporting it was the beginning of the president's "latest effort to shore up support for the war as Republicans battle to retain control of Congress in the November elections." The article, by McClatchy Washington bureau reporter Ron Hutcheson, reported that Bush "suggested" that unnamed critics of the war are "hopelessly naive" and that Bush "considers criticism of his policies dangerous to America's security," as well as American Legion national commander Thomas Bock's assertion that "'support for the war and support for the warrior' were inseparable." By contrast, other media outlets quoted responses from Democratic officials critical of Bush's speech.

Hutcheson did report that that the administration was attempting to "sidestep[]" public opinion polls that "show that most Americans don't think the Iraq war is worth the loss of American life and don't like the way Bush has handled it" and that "some audience members were uncomfortable with the implication that the war should be beyond criticism." Hutcheson also quoted audience member and Korean and Vietnam war veteran George VanDewater, who "disagreed" with Bush, and "noted that many of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam criticized the war even as they fought it." But Hutcheson did not include remarks from anyone making specific criticisms of the assertions in Bush's speech or, indeed, comments from any Democratic officials.

By contrast, a September 1 Los Angeles Times article on the speech reported the responses of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV):

Democrats on Thursday answered Bush's speech by saying that his policy in Iraq had failed.

"At a time that calls for serious leadership, the president is offering yet another public-relations campaign," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "His dire warnings of the cost of failure in Iraq do nothing to make success more likely, and his stubborn insistence on staying with a failed policy all but ensures continued violence and chaos."

"Iraq is in crisis, our military is stretched thin, and terrorist groups and extremist regimes have been strengthened and emboldened across the Middle East and the world," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

An August 31 Associated Press report on the speech also reported Reid's response. In addition, a September 1 New York Times article quoted the reactions of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

From Hutcheson's September 1 McClatchy Newspapers article:

In the first in a series of congressional election-year speeches defending his Iraq policy, Bush said the stakes were too high to consider any option but total victory. While he acknowledged that many of his critics are patriotic, he suggested that they're hopelessly naive.

The president launched his latest effort to shore up support for the war as Republicans battle to retain control of Congress in the November elections. Voter discontent with the war has emerged as a key issue in campaigns across the country.

Polls show that most Americans don't think the Iraq war is worth the loss of American life and don't like the way Bush has handled it.

The president and his advisers have responded by focusing on the stakes, a debate that sidesteps questions about the conduct of the war and the more fundamental issues of whether invading Iraq was a mistake and whether the administration's case for doing so was sound.

Bush's remarks to the American Legion came two days after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the same audience that war critics seemed to be more interested in "dividing our country than acting with unity" against terrorists. Rumsfeld said that the critics suffered from "moral confusion" about the stakes in Iraq.

The president avoided disparaging his critics directly, but he made it clear that he considers criticism of his policies dangerous to America's security.

[...]

The military veterans gave the president a standing ovation, but some audience members were uncomfortable with the implication that the war should be beyond criticism.

While introducing Bush, Thomas Bock, the legion's national commander, equated criticism of the war with criticism of the troops.

He said "support for the war and support for the warrior" were inseparable.

George VanDewater, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, disagreed. He noted that many of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam criticized the war even as they fought it.

"That what this whole country's about. ... Everybody has a right to voice their opinion," he said. "That's what we fought all these wars for."

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