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DAVID BRODER WILL DO AND SAY ANYTHING! Does David Broder even know who he is? The Dean reinvents once again:


DID WE MENTION THE FACT THAT SPIN WINS? When have you seen such an odd lead paragraph? In yesterday’s Post, Helen Dewar wrote the page-one lead story about the Homeland Security bill. Here’s how she got things started:

DEWAR (pgh 1): The drive to create a federal Department of Homeland Security, one of President Bush’s top priorities since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, drew close to fruition yesterday as key senators agreed to a slightly revised version of the White House’s proposal.
Say what? Bush, of course, opposed the department when it was proposed—and opposed it for roughly eight months after that! Somehow, they’d heard this at the New York Times. If you read far enough into yesterday’s piece, you did receive this information:
FIRESTONE/BUMILLER (pgh 14): In fact, the White House had rejected the idea of a consolidated security department when it was proposed last year by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee...

(15) The administration changed its mind in June after the idea gained unstoppable Congressional momentum.

But that history had ceased to exist in the Post, where Homeland Sec had become Bush’s long-standing cause. Meanwhile, Firestone also confabulated a tad, right at the top of his piece:
FIRESTONE/BUMILLER (pgh 2): The measure would collect in one department tasks now spread over 22 federal agencies...White House officials said they were pleased by today’s breakthrough and expressed hope that a completed bill could be on the president’s desk for signature by Thanksgiving.

(3) Democrats who had held up the measure before Republicans regained control of Congress in the midterm elections gave in to relaxed Civil Service rules demanded by the White House.

According to Firestone, Democrats “had held up the measure” before last week’s elections. In fact, it was Republicans who refused to allow a Senate vote on Homeland Security. Dems opposed the president’s version of the bill, but offered to take up-or-down votes. Republicans wouldn’t allow it.

None of this has a thing to do with the merits of the Dem/Rep proposals. But note the way our two greatest rags are now typing A Tale Told By Bush. According to these mighty papers, the great Bush always wanted Homeland Security. But congressional Democrats held up the measure until voters put Repubs back in charge. This exquisitely crafted tale tells the story the White House would like. It adorned page one of the Post and the Times—and misled the rags’ misused readers.

Maybe Dewar and Firestone just had bad days—mistakenly typing some misleading facts. But somehow, both rags told the tale Bush’s way. Did we remember to mention the fact that Spin Wins? A mighty emperor now strides the earth, and newspapers run to be conquered.

DASCHLE SPEAKS: We can’t find his remarks on Nexis, but in press Q-and-A’s broadcast on C-SPAN radio, Daschle criticized the way Homeland Security was covered in the press. He seemed to cite the Firestone piece in particular, saying that “even today” he was reading newspaper reports which make it sound as if the Dems had obstructed. In the past few weeks, we’ve heard at least three major Dems—Daschle, Clinton, Gore—directly challenge the way the press corps does business. Almost surely, this is the start of a long, winding, decades-long road for the Dems. Much more on this topic will follow.

Meanwhile, David Broder was reinventing himself in yesterday’s Post, getting in line with prevailing new spin. “Tipping Left Toward 2004,” the Pundit Dean’s great headline said. Broder was pushing the hottest new line; the Dems have crazily swung to the left, signing up Nancy Pelosi (“the near-perfect embodiment of a San Francisco liberal,” he wrote). But what was the most troubling sign of the Dems’ leftward lurch? The way the Democrats’ White House hopefuls all want to repeal Bush’s tax cuts. Forgive the length of the following excerpt, but The Dean did expound on the topic:

BRODER: [T]he political terrain in 2003-2004 will tip Democratic presidential candidates to the left. And few of them are likely to resist.

Gore ran as a “people vs. the powerful” populist in 2000 and reiterated in August…that he believes that such populism “is the ground of the Democratic Party’s being, our meaning and our mission.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Gore’s running mate but now a critic of that populist pitch, says he will run if Gore does not. Lieberman is probably the most pro-business of the Democrats, but he was also the first in the potential field to declare that the large un-enacted portions of the 2001 Bush tax cut should be rolled back.

Taxes are likely to be the dominant economic issue in 2003, given the president’s intention to make those rate reductions permanent. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean says in every speech that he wants the tax cuts rescinded to finance universal health insurance. Gore has denounced them; Gephardt, Lieberman and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina all voted against them; and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who missed the final vote, announced his opposition.

Edwards followed Lieberman in calling for a rollback of the scheduled tax cuts. He almost has to take a populist stance, as a way of putting a favorable gloss on his long career as a trial lawyer…

Kerry may have more room to maneuver than the others, but the Boston Brahmin, married to the immensely wealthy Teresa Heinz, may feel almost as much pressure as Lieberman to demonstrate his liberal credentials to activist Democratic constituencies.

For all these reasons, odds are the Democratic nominee will be someone Nancy Pelosi will love.

Clearly, Broder scolded the Dems for wanting to repeal Bush’s cuts. “Few of them are likely to resist” the urge to go off to the left, he sadly avows. And he flogs the tax cut topic again and again. He says the tax cut repealin’ Dem nominee “will be someone Pelosi will love.”

What makes this column so sleazy and sad? All through the fall, Broder himself took open shots at those very same tax cuts! He slammed the “massive” cuts repeatedly, directly suggesting their rollback. On September 1, for example, his column was headlined “Our Crushing Personal Debt.” Here’s what The Dean said then, before the spin-terrain shifted:

BRODER: It will be very difficult to keep interest rates down as federal borrowing increases...

For policymakers, this reality suggests at least two things. Tax cuts that further reduce government revenue and boost borrowing—those already scheduled under President Bush’s misguided 2001 bill, whose provisions he wants to make permanent, and those additional cuts he is reportedly ready to propose now—should be viewed skeptically.

His judgment hardened throughout the fall. On September 11, Broder complained that “no tax cuts have been canceled” in the wake of the previous year’s terrorist attack. On September 22, he complained about the Democrats’ “rollover on taxes and the budget,” noting that “the single biggest economic decision Bush has made was to push through a massive tax cut—and his insistence that its future largess to high-income families not be touched.” On September 25, Broder wrote a column headlined “Radical Conservatism.” He said Bush was running what was “in some respects, a truly radical government:”
BRODER: Consider economics…What is different is Bush’s insistence that tax cutting should continue, even with the return of budget deficits and even with the prospect of staggering, long-term additional spending on the military, homeland defense and the war on terrorism. Facing deficits in his second year, Ronald Reagan acquiesced in Congress’s rollback of some 1981 tax cuts. In a similar situation in his second year, the president’s father made the same concession to a Democratic Congress. This President Bush has broken the pattern.
Bush was scolded for refusing to roll back his cuts. But just how shameless was yesterday’s piece? On November 5—Election Day itself!—Broder wrote a high-minded column blaming both parties for the lousy campaign. And even then, he went after Dems for refusing to challenge the tax cuts:
BRODER: Candor was no greater in most of the races for the House and Senate…Republicans generally promised to make the 2001 tax cuts—enacted in a fog of optimistic budget projections—permanent. And Democrats, as a matter of party strategy proclaimed by their top leaders, refused to challenge those tax cuts as unaffordable.
Even on Election Day, Broder was scolding Dems for accepting the cuts! But now, Emperor Bush controls rule the known world. So Broder shakes his head at Dems who take the stand he repeatedly called for.

If you read Broder’s piece in tortured ways, there are no “technical” contradictions. But the tone of yesterday’s piece is quite clear. All fall, Broder slammed the “massive” cuts. He criticized Bush for not rolling them back; he criticized Dems for not demanding such action. But now, King Bush bestrides the world—and once again, the Pundit Dean shows off his deep character problems.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Broder’s cheap reinvention is nothing new; The Pundit Dean behaved the same way when President Clinton fell far from favor. Why are such people in charge of our discourse? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/98.

MISTAH BIN LADEN, HE NOT DEAD: Howard Kurtz is adopting key White House lines, too, as Joe Conason notes in today’s Salon piece. Did we remember to mention a saddening fact? Did we remember to say that Spin Wins?