Will The Networks Dare to Find Division Between Democrats?

May 15th, 2009 9:01 AM

President Obama’s decision to reverse himself and oppose the release of photographs depicting "detainee abuse" by the U.S. military might be wildly controversial on the left, but the Times story by Jeff Zeleny and Thom Shanker on Thursday’s front page was very slow to feature opposing voices. ACLU chief Anthony Romero surfaced in paragraph 11, and even then he was complaining about how the photos would expose the last administration.

However, on the other side of the front page, on the far left, appropriately enough, was a story by David Herszenhorn headlined "Unease Grows for Democrats Over Security." No one in this story denounced Obama’s reversal on the detainee photos, but they did question Obama’s plans for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. Will the networks dare to find divisions between Democrats?

While the Times reporter suggested House and Senate Democrats will easily pass new appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan, "the discomfort among Democrats points to a harder road ahead for Mr. Obama and the prospect of far more serious rancor if conditions worsen overseas. The unease, particularly over the war in Afghanistan, is greatest right now in the more liberal ranks of the Democratic caucus and is more evident in the House than in the Senate."

Old-style liberal David Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, was blunt:

"With respect to Afghanistan and Pakistan, I am extremely dubious that the administration will be able to accomplish what it wants to accomplish," Mr. Obey said last week. "The problem is not the administration’s policy or its goals. The problem is that I doubt that we have the tools there that we need to implement virtually any policy in that region."

Freshman liberal Alan Grayson of Florida wildly suggested the two Bush wars were relics of the 1800s: "There is no need in the 21st century to do this, to make us safe....This is a 19th-century strategy being played out at great expense in both money and blood in the 21st century, in the wrong time at the wrong place."

The Times also featured Reps. Jack Murtha and Jerrold Nadler inside, and published large photos and quotations from Obey, Murtha, and Nadler. There were no Democrats quoted who were satisfied with the current Iraq and Afghanistan strategies, so the story wasn’t exactly a two-sided debate. But at least the Times is acknowledging the potential for internal conflict in the Democratic Party, as opposed to their usual obsession with creating and growing fissures in the Republican fold.

(Obey image from USNews.com)