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Is Helen Thomas a Lapdog?

Eric Boehlert is at it again, pushing the laughable and tendentious theme of his new book that the media are just "lapdogs" for the Bush administration:

It's been a head-scratching spectacle this week to watch Democrats in the Senate debate war resolutions that would press the administration to begin bringing troops home, and then be depicted in the press as the likely losers in the unfolding political battle. Losers because Democrats are "divided" (New York Times), "struggling for consensus" (Washington Post), and "squabbling among themselves" (Knight Ridder), as opposed to Republicans who appear unified behind Bush's 'stay the course' Iraq policy. (Democrats weak and confused, Republicans strong and resolute. Does the press ever got tired of that manufactured storyline?)

Boehlert calls this the press accepting "the GOP spin," as if pointing out the obvious is somehow falling into some devious Rovian trap.

Here's some more GOP spin: Democrats are "openly struggling with a lot of the difficult issues." Oops. That's Senator Hillary Clinton today. Okay, so maybe liberals like Boehlert think she really is a Republican who's on Karl Rove's talking points distribution list.

More GOP spin here: Democrats are "leaderless," "speaking in a cacophony," and need to "get their act together." That's lapdog Helen Thomas, writing in the Seattle PI this morning. Granted, Thomas is arguing from the other side of the equation - urging Democrats to be more united and resolute in standing up to the Bush administration - but her argument is basically the same: Democrats are "divided," they are "squabbling among themselves" and they do, in fact, look "weak and confused," especially when it comes to the issue of Iraq.

Boehlert is frustrated (quite understandably, if you ask me) that Democrats, despite having public opinion moderately in their favor (at least on paper) about the war in Iraq, won't stand up and vote together to withdraw from Iraq because they fear the political repercussions. And rightly so.

There was absolutely nothing stopping Senate Democrats from voting in favor of John Kerry's amendment the other day to "redeploy" our troops in Iraq - yet 32 Democrats voted against it. And had all Senate Democrats stood up in favor of the Kerry amendment, Boehlert would no doubt have seen the sort of press headlines he so desperately craves: "Democrats united on 'Redeploying' Troops in Iraq." Or something like that.

What's really driving Boehlert crazy is that he knows (as does everyone else in America that follows politics closely at all) that most Senate Democrats really do want to vote for something like the Kerry amendment. If the vote on the Kerry amendment had been conducted by secret ballot, almost every single Democrat in the Senate would have voted in favor (and maybe a few Republicans, too). But because Senators can't vote by secret ballot, because they have to stand up, be counted, and ultimately be held accountable for their decisions by voters in their respective states, most Democrats couldn't vote in favor of the Kerry amendment. They're divided, and they're struggling. It's a political reality. And it's ludicrous to call the press "lapdogs" for pointing out such a basic fact.