News analysis or GOP "fact sheet"? Mike Allen's Time column stitched together from Republican talking points


Rehashing a slew of GOP talking points, Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen's online column on Democratic candidate Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate primary concluded that Lamont's victory gives Republicans "a potentially powerful new weapon to use against the Democrats this fall."

In an August 9 online column on Democratic candidate Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate primary, Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen rehashed a slew of GOP talking points and concluded that Lamont's victory gives Republicans "a potentially powerful new weapon to use against the Democrats this fall." Lamont's victory was attributed largely to Lieberman's staunch support of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy -- a position that is not shared by the majority of Americans and the vast majority of Democrats, who view the Iraq war as a mistake, disapprove of Bush's handling of the war, favor setting plans for troop withdrawal, and, according to a recent Washington Post poll, trust Democrats over Republicans on matters of national security and the war on terror.

Nevertheless, Allen wrote:

From Washington State to Missouri to Pennsylvaina, Democratic candidates found themselves on the defensive Wednesday as the Republican Party worked ferociously at every level to try to use the primary defeat of Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to portray the oppposition as the party of weakness and isolation on national security and liberal leanings on domestic policy. Doleful Democrats bemoaned the irony: At a time when Republicans should be back on their heels because of chaos abroad and President Bush's unpopularity, the Democrats' rejection of a sensible, moralistic centrist has handed the GOP a weapon that could have vast ramifications for both the midterm elections of '06 and the big dance of '08.

Apparently, Allen thinks "sensible" means "agreeing with George Bush -- and disagreeing with the American people -- on the most important issues of the day." Allen's language closely echoes an August 9 "RNC Research Briefing" titled: "From FDR to Ned Lamont: The Democrat Party's Transformation from Strength to Weakness." The GOP declared Lieberman to be a Democrat who "Promoted The Doctrine Of Peace Through Strength," while labeling Lamont a Democrat who has "Chosen To Cut-And-Run From The War On Terror".

Allen continued, regurgitating more GOP talking points:

Republican officials, who have had little but bad news for months as Iraq festered and U.S. voters showed increasing signs of pessimism and discontent, said the Ned Lamont victory gave them a chance to paint Democrats as a party that had become captive to the liberal wing symbolized by the civic action group. Mary Matalin, an outside adviser to the White House, signaled the message when she said on Fox News Channel shortly after the polls closed: "MoveOn is not fringe. They're the heart of the party."

On television and in speeches in coming days, party officials and strategists plan to talk about their respect for Lieberman as a distinguished public servant and argue that Lamont's victory represents the end of the long tradition of strong-on-national-defense Democratic leaders in the mold of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. The GOP plans to try to broaden the argument beyond Connecticut, a liberal stronghold, and work to convince viewers and voters that Democratic nominees across the country have more in common with Michael Moore and liberal bloggers than Main Street America.

Again, Allen accepted, without question, the false Republican claim that Democrats are dominated by "Michael Moore and liberal bloggers," and are out of touch with "Main Street America" on Iraq and national security, when, in fact, Lamont's opposition to the Iraq war and criticism of Bush's handling of it are positions apparently shared by a majority of Americans. After quoting RNC chairman Ken Mehlman at length, Allen concluded:

Trying to look on the bright side, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued a statement this morning pointing to strong turnout in the primaries and declaring that Democratic voters "are energized." The challenge for Dean, and his party, is to channel that energy in a direction that makes victory more likely, not less.

Apparently, for the Democrats, selecting a nominee whose views on Iraq, national security, and terrorism conform to that of the majority of Americans is a huge problem that makes victory less likely, for which they are required to "look on the bright side."

Time Magazine
Mike Allen
Propaganda/Noise Machine, 2006 Elections
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