In a November 4 Associated Press article, reporter Liz Sidoti uncritically reported GOP attacks against Democrats, including that if Democrats win control of Congress next week, they will "let the terrorists win," institute "bigger government and higher taxes," and stand "on the border with open arms welcoming people across." Sidoti did not include any responses or rebuttals from Democrats.
In a November 4 article on Republicans' efforts to "energize their lackluster base," Associated Press staff writer Liz Sidoti reported on the numerous lines of attack recently used by GOP leaders against Democrats but did not include any response or rebuttal. According to the Republicans Sidoti quoted, if Democrats win control of Congress in the November 7 midterm elections, they will "let the terrorists win," institute "bigger government and higher taxes," stand "on the border with open arms welcoming people across, " "lead the culture war," and do the bidding of "every radical liberal organization in the country."
Further, in her description of the recent controversy surrounding remarks by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on Iraq, Sidoti simply reported that he "appeared to suggest that those who do not get an education 'get stuck in Iraq,' " which led President Bush and other Republicans to accuse him of "insulting U.S. troops." Sidoti went on to note that Kerry subsequently apologized but did not report his explanation for the remarks -- that he had "botched" a joke intended to criticize Bush, not U.S. soldiers.
Sidoti's article focused on the concerns among Republican strategists that "swaths of GOP faithful will stay home on Tuesday" due to disenchantment over the war in Iraq and the recent scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). Sidoti reported that this situation has led Republican leaders to warn "party loyalists of the perils of Democratic rule, castigating liberal icons and embracing conservative heroes." From the article:
"What would happen if the Democrats win?" House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asked in an essay for National Review, a conservative publication. His ominous take is that taxes would be higher, the mission in Iraq would "be damned" and San Franciscan Nancy Pelosi, as the new speaker, would be "leading the culture war."
Clearly, Democrats do not agree with Hastert.
Not that it matters.
"If you want bigger government and higher taxes, vote for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. If you do want someone down on the border with open arms welcoming people across the border, vote for them," [House Majority Leader John] Boehner [R-OH] told Michael Medved, a conservative radio talk show host Thursday. "And, if you want to let the terrorists win in Iraq, just vote for the Democrats."
Such messages also show up on the campaign trail.
"Lois Murphy is extreme. Look at the company she keeps," says an ad Republicans are airing against the Democratic challenger in the suburban Philadelphia district of GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach. Pictures in the commercial include Pelosi, Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
It accuses "Liberal Lois" of wanting to raise taxes and ends: "She's supported by every radical liberal organization in the country. We can't risk Lois Murphy."
While Sidoti noted that "Democrats do not agree" with these Republican arguments, she at no point offered any substantive Democratic response to the attacks. Following are examples of possible rebuttals:
Taxes. As The New York Times reported on November 4, Democrats -- while opposed to Bush's tax cuts favoring the wealthiest Americans -- "strongly support many of the most popular tax breaks, including a higher child tax credit and elimination of the so-called marriage penalty." Moreover, recent polling shows that more Americans trust Democrats than Republicans to handle the issue of taxes.
Terrorism. The Times further reported that a Democratic congressional majority would seek to "enact all the antiterrorism initiatives recommended by the Sept. 11 commission" and "double special forces devoted to pursuing Osama bin Laden and others in terrorism networks, institute screening of all cargo containers entering the country and increase spending on the National Guard and emergency workers." Furthermore, Democrats argue that the war in Iraq has actually increased the level of global terrorism -- an assessment shared by the U.S. intelligence community, according to the unclassified portions of an April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate.
Immigration. On May 25, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 with support from 38 Democrats and 23 Republicans. While the bill included a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants, it also featured numerous border-security measures. These included adding 14,000 new border patrol agents and 2,500 "port of entry" inspectors; constructing at least 370 miles of triple-layered fencing; and procuring unmanned aerial vehicles and other state-of-the-art surveillance technology.
Near the end of her article, Sidoti reported on the recent controversy surrounding remarks by Kerry:
Also, in a move that undoubtedly delighted the base, the White House led a two-day GOP effort to eviscerate Democrat John Kerry -- Bush's 2004 rival and one of the party faithful's favorite Democratic villains.
The Massachusetts senator appeared to suggest that those who do not get an education "get stuck in Iraq." Bush and his rank and file seized on the remark in a replay of sorts from the bitter presidential race.
They accused Kerry of insulting U.S. troops, demanded the senator apologize and claimed that the remarks exemplified a disparaging attitude the GOP says Democrats have toward the military. Kerry eventually apologized.
But Sidoti's account of Kerry's remarks and the subsequent uproar omits an important element of the story -- Kerry's explanation. While Sidoti noted that he "eventually apologized" for the comments, she makes no mention of Kerry's clarification that his remarks were intended to specifically criticize Bush. As Media Matters for America noted, this explanation is bolstered by what Kerry's staff claim were Kerry's prepared remarks. From the November 1 Los Angeles Times article on the controversy:
Kerry's office said the Democratic senator had misread prepared remarks, which said: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
Kerry's explanation that his comments were a "botched joke" is further supported by the fact that they came in the context of other quips regarding Bush's Iraq policy, as an October 31 AP article noted.