When the Associated Press put together a roll call of the notable deaths of 2010, some of them came with a little glitter in their brief descriptions from reporter Bernard McGhee. For example:
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, 92. Rose from an impoverished childhood in West Virginia's coal country to become the longest-serving senator in U.S. history. June 28.
Or this one:
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, 77. The tall, gruff-mannered former Marine who became the de facto voice of veterans on Capitol Hill and later an outspoken and influential critic of the Iraq War. Feb. 8. Complications from gallbladder surgery.
Both of these men were renowned as pork-barrel champions. But guess who was tagged with pork in their sentence? The Republican:
Ted Stevens, 86. The longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate; funneled billions of dollars to his remote state of Alaska. Aug. 9. Plane crash.
Other Democrats had scandal helpfully wiped from their sentence:
Dan Rostenkowski, 82. Former Illinois congressman who wielded enormous power on Capitol Hill for more than 30 years. Aug. 11.
“Went to jail” apparently didn’t fit. The adulteries of John Edwards were papered over a bit, too:
Elizabeth Edwards, 61. Closely advised her husband John Edwards in two bids for the presidency and advocated for health care even as her marriage publicly crumbled. Dec. 7. Cancer.'
It's interesting that while Stevens was identified as a Republican (because Byrd outdid him in longevity), none of the Democrats were identified by party. The same was true for Rep. Charlie Wilson, remembered for aiding Afghan rebels against the Soviets. That might make people think he was a Republican.
Acts of terrorism made you an “independence activist” to AP:
Lolita Lebron, 90. Puerto Rican independence activist who spent 25 years in prison for participating in a gun attack on the U.S. Congress a half century ago. Aug. 1.
Communists were “legendary,” no Evil Empire there:
Anatoly Dobrynin, 90. Legendary Soviet diplomat who represented Moscow during the Cuban missile crisis and later in key superpower negotiations to curb the growth of nuclear arsenals. April 6.
Liberals might complain about the “statesman” tag for Al Haig, as AP steered clear of a negative tag for this Republican:
Alexander Haig, 85. Soldier and statesman who held high posts in three Republican administrations and some of the U.S. military's top jobs. Feb. 20.
PS: On a cultural note, Rue McClanahan was remembered for playing “sexually liberated Southern belle Blanche Devereaux” on “The Golden Girls.” This is nicer than her character being a “slutty senior citizen.”