Lottery Post Journal

President Bush's victories receiving little attention

President Bush's victories receiving little attention

Bill Sammon, The Examiner
Jun 7, 2006 9:00 AM

SAN FRANCISCO - When President Bush nominated Gen. Michael Hayden to run the CIA, the press focused on disapproving Democrats and even some Republicans who were dubious about confirmation.

A month later, when the Senate confirmed Hayden by a 78-15 vote, the story was given much less emphasis in the media, which had moved on to other stories critical of the Bush administration.

Similarly, when Bush nominated one of his aides, Brett Kavanaugh, to the federal judiciary, the press was filled with reports about Democrats threatening a filibuster because Kavanaugh once worked for special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in the case against President Clinton.

Last week, there was much less media coverage of a Rose Garden ceremony in which Bush presided over the swearing-in of Kavanaugh, who had been confirmed by a 57-36 vote.

Bush has quietly been racking up small victories like these that seem at odds with the media's conventional wisdom of a presidency on the skids.

In addition to success with his nominations, Bush also is presiding over a booming economy and is even scoring some foreign policy advances, although Iraq remains bloody.

"In today's political climate, daily headlines and fast-moving events make it easy to lose the forest for the trees," Bush counselor Dan Bartlett wrote in a memo this week. "But there is a clear tide of positive developments that reflect the president's ability to get things done."

Bartlett's memo was dismissed as "happy talk" by Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News. And White House correspondent Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers noted that Barlett "found reason for optimism in Iraq ... on a day when gunmen rounded up 56 people at a Baghdad bus stop."

Yet the White House remains convinced it is not getting a fair shake from the mainstream media.

"We hear a great deal about the problems we face," Bush aide Peter Wehner wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post. "We hear hardly anything about encouraging developments.

"Off-key as it may sound in the current environment, a strong case can be made that in a number of areas there are positive trends and considerable progress," he added.

Bartlett acknowledged that press reports of U.S. Marines killing civilians in Haditha, Iraq, "are unsettling for the American people."

He and other aides conceded that Bush still faces myriad

vexing problems, ranging from high gasoline prices to the deluge of illegal immigration.

These realities and their attendant negative press coverage have made Bush aides almost apologetic when they point out good news.

"President Bush's leadership is achieving a steady flow of results that do not always dominate the day's headlines on their own but that together represent real progress for the American people," Bartlett said.

Bill Sammon is The Examiner's senior White House correspondent.


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