Conservative pundits such as Charles Krauthammer are accusing the New York Times of "liberal bias" for reporting that "Leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq." As Joshua Marshall notes, however, the Times coverage has been far more accurate than K
Curtis Moore looks at corporate-funded think tanks like the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy whose anti-environmental messages permeate the news. "Fashioning themselves after the very university research centers they deplore (or old-style "think tanks" that are only a step removed from universities), these groups have neither the neutrality nor the expertise of their academic counterparts," Moore writes.
The latest bulletin from the Clearinghouse for Educational Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) features an elegant crique of the National Committee for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a right-wing front group that campaigns for tobacco and Republicans and against the environment.
"You get huge leverage for your dollars," Roger Hertog told fellow wealthy donors at a recent national conference for right-wing think tanks including the Heritage Foundation and the Cato, Manhattan, and American Enterprise institutes. Hertog pointed out that a mere $70 million in donations has helped conservatives reframe the national debate on topics including antitrust law, Social Security privatization, welfare and affirmative action. Robert Kuttner, who attended the event as a "token liberal," was impressed by the right's realization that ideas matter in politics.
Behind the scenes of American politics, the powerful American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been quietly pulling the strings of state legislatures. "The organization's reach is impressive: More than one-third of state legislators are ALEC members, and about 100 hold senior leadership positions," writes Nick Penniman.
Republicans are largely sticking to their plan to partially privatize Social Security. "When it comes to style, though, Republicans are running from the term 'privatization' as fast as they can," notes Ben Fritz.
The recent disclosure that President Bush received a general warning before Sept. 11 of possible hijackings prompted a firestorm of spin. Conservative pundits and politicians fought back on cue, showing impressive message-discipline as they argued in unison that criticism of the president amounts to treason in the face of terrorism. Democrats "need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions," said Vice President Dick Cheney (without specifying any "incendiary suggestions" that any Democrats had actually made).