New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm (pictured), whose previous reporting betrays no conservative sympathies, listened to former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday afternoon and winced at her attacks on President Obama. Thursday’s post for the paper’s “Caucus” blog, “Bachmann Assails Obama Before Conservatives.”
The Times is particularly sensitive to people accusing Obama of “apologizing for America” overseas. Public Editor Arthur Brisbane got huffy and pedantic in defense of the president back in January:
...on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches “apologizing for America,”....perhaps the next time Mr. Romney says the president has a habit of apologizing for his country, the reporter should insert a paragraph saying, more or less:
“The president has never used the word ‘apologize’ in a speech about U.S. policy or history. Any assertion that he has apologized for U.S. actions rests on a misleading interpretation of the president’s words.”
News flash: One can apologize without actually using the word “apologize.” (Example: “I am sorry.”) More important, of all the “facts” Brisbane could have used as an example, isn’t that one (whether or not Obama has ever "apologized for America") particularly amorphous and open to partisan interpretation?
Eckholm trod similar defensive ground in his post, rushing to Obama's defense like it was his job:
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, was known as a candidate of the Tea Party and religious conservatives. But speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, she spent her time excoriating President Obama’s foreign policy.
“Before President Obama was elected, no one had ever heard of a United States president saying to the world that the United States is not a Judeo-Christian nation.”
“Before Obama was elected, no one had ever heard a United States president say to the world that we are anything but an exceptional nation.”
“And before President Obama was elected, we never had a president go around apologizing to the world,” she said.
Mrs. Bachmann was taking several liberties with the facts in her remarks about Mr. Obama. He has not apologized to the world, for instance. And on whether or not the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation, the president actually said: “And we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”