Post Reports on GOP Rift

Dana Milbank is a Democratic National Committee operative whose job is to write articles attacking President Bush. This is a particularly good deal for the DNC, since Milbank’s salary is paid by the Washington Post.
Milbank’s latest is based on a letter that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young wrote to Andrew Card, and that a Congressional staffer leaked to Milbank. The letter disagrees with a speech in which President Bush complained that Congress had appropriated only $1.3 billion rather than the $3.5 billion requested to aid “first responders” to terrorist attacks. Young’s letter took issue with the $1.3 billion figure: “I believe White House statements that Congress only provided $1.3 billion for first responders are factually inaccurate because you have narrowly chosen programs that only you believe will support the first-responder community.” Young argued that if all of the relevant appropriations are counted, the figure is around $3.5 billion.
This appears to be a pretty typical beltway dispute about how to categorize spending programs; I assume that a good bit of pork is now being characterized as anti-terrorism spending. Milbank, however, places the dispute in the broader context of his ongoing effort to discredit the President, noting, for those who may have missed the point:
“Democrats have long criticized Bush for inaccurate statements on spending and other matters, but this is the most prominent case of a Republican accusing Bush of falsehoods.”
And, just in case any readers might suspect the motives of the leaker and others in Young’s camp, Milbank’s article concludes:
“A Young aide said the letter ‘was not a game of gotcha. He was trying to be helpful.'” Just like Milbank himself.
In some ways I think the Post is our best newspaper, and it has gotten less partisan in recent years. But reporters like Milbank remind us of the Post’s history as a house organ of the Democratic Party.


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