"Stricken Senate Democrat Undergoes Surgery" the Times declared. South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson was hospitalized for stroke symptoms.
The article's lead paragraph trumpeted that his hospitalization highlighted the "fragility of the Democrats' new majority in the Senate."
By contrast, here's how the Times characterized Dick Cheney's heart problems in March, 2001:"Cheney Complains of Pains in Chest; Artery is Cleared." The optimistic article whistled away any concerns about a heart attack or physical malady. And while it speculated that doubts about Cheney's health may linger, it certainly didn't write the Bush Administration's eulogy.
Cheney would be "held overnight for observation but was likely to resume his full vice-presidential duties later this week." The Times included a very politically optimistic quote from his doctor. "There is a very high likelihood he can finish out his term in his extremely vigorous capacity," Dr. Jonathan S. Reiner said.
Choice of words goes a long way in the world of politics. The Gloom York Times decided on "stricken" for Tim Johnson and "cleared" for Dick Cheney. One was admitted with signs of a heart attack and one with signs of a stroke. Neither had been confirmed, yet the Times rushed to judgment on one and not the other.
Did the Times open its Cheney article by rushing to speculation about the fragility of the Bush administration? Why not? If Cheney HAD been "stricken," only a quarter of the Bush administration would have survived...both in size and in political strategy.
However, even if Tim Johnson is "stricken" and a Republican is chosen to replace him for the balance of his term, it hardly dooms the Democrats. The Democrats are in full swing back into power, not clinging with fragile fingers to the popular support of the people.
It may happen that the Democrats do not hold majority power this term, but that could only add pressure to vulnerable Republican senators. Oregon's Republican Senator Gordon Smith, whose dramatic about-face on the Iraq War last week drew national press, knows that his political life is at stake. He and the rest of the Republicans in this Congress are the remnant of a regime that snatched away our fortunes from the 90's, our retirement funds and our children's college tuition money and scattered it like burnt confetti in the streets of Baghdad.
Smith has no hope of being reelected in 2008 if he continues to support the pro-corporation Republican Party. In fact his best shot of remaining in the senate may be to caucus with the Democrats and change party affiliation. He'll never do it, but that's how endangered he's become.
The Democrats' majority is hardly "fragile." If anything, it's slim. But for two days in a row the Times has blasted Democrats with the word "fragile." The Gloom York Times just likes to think of Democrats as fragile, frail men and women whose feelings and physical stature are as soft and tender as goose down.
Their fantasies of marginalizing us and sabotaging our legitimacy are short sighted and ill-considered. The mainstream media will try to ambush Democratic politicians at every bend in the long road to curtailing corporate dictatorship in our government.
If anything is fragile, it's the populist disguise of the corporation-appeasing Republican Party.