Hunting for liberal bias in the press has grown difficult, since liberal reporters have gone from sounding bitterly inflamed to tickled-tummy pleased about the political scene. Their stories about Democrats seem drained of all vinegar. They write like everyone's a friendly guest at their dinner party. Teenagers recounting a pajama party in their diary probably have more spice and attitude. Case in point: Charles Babington and Shailagh Murray writing gently on the WashPost front page Friday about the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton rivalry.
Colleagues say Clinton and Obama appear to genuinely admire each other. So far, they claim to see zero evidence of public rancor. "Everybody gets along just fine," Harkin said. Kennedy described the pair as "extra-dimensional individuals" and asserted in an interview: "There's no sort of pettiness or jealousy that I see. They understand the momentous nature of what the search for the presidency is all about."
Behind the scenes, of course, it's a slightly different story. "Don't tell Mama, I'm for Obama" has become the Obama campaign's unofficial motto. It's a reference to Clinton's nickname as first lady and an example of the conflicted loyalties of many Democratic political aides. Some are talking to both camps about possible jobs in the presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, Democratic senators who are not considering presidential bids of their own are remaining neutral.
I've followed the Clintons pretty closely from a right-wing conspiracy's distance, but I don't recall anyone calling her "Mama." For a conservative media critic, perhaps the most entertaining part of the story is the complete absence of the word "liberal" in the piece, despite the story being stuffed with ultraliberals from Ted Kennedy to Tom Harkin to Bernie Sanders to "Democratic donor" George Soros....to Obama and Hillary. Babington and Murray do employ the word "moderate," however, for Hillary's abortion stance:
Clinton's colleagues were surprised when she teamed up with former GOP House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) on health-care initiatives, and when she staked out a moderate stance on abortion in a prominent speech in January 2005.
Expect a lot of this in the next two years. Her actual voting record on abortion is staunchly pro-abortion. But she has a moderate "stance"? It might be better, as some reporters noted, to call here 2005 speech an attempt at a moderate "tone," since that refers more to rhetoric than action. In 2005, she called abortion a "sad, even tragic choice for many, many women." She said there was "common ground" to seek ways to reduce abortion, and said "I for one respect those who believe with all their heart and conscience that there are no circumstances under which abortion should be available." Fine, she voiced respect for her opponents, and she mildly suggested abortion was a social problem rather than a glorious choice. But "moderate stance" is too generous a description for casual followers of politics, who should know she is a staunch defender of "abortion rights." She is staunchly on the left.
(Even The Washington Times put her in the "middle" back then, at least in their headline.)