The New York Times is free, of course, to feel however it wants about the president's middle eastern policy. But shouldn't it keep the blatant editorializing on the editorial page? David Sanger writes a piece about Bush's reaction to the current crisis in Israel:
Breaking a two-day silence on events in the Middle East, Mr. Bush summoned reporters to the gates of his ranch here during a driving rainstorm. He had just received news of yet another deadly bombing, this one in Tel Aviv, he said, and he pointedly made no effort to sound evenhanded about who was to blame for the rising violence.Whether Bush "sounds evenhanded" is a question for the reader, not for the reporter, to determine. Moreover, Sanger makes clear that he thinks Bush should sound "evenhanded," as opposed, say, to sounding accurate.
Mr. Bush's strong statement went beyond similar comments on Friday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. They were also striking for their clear association of the Palestinian leader with almost daily acts of terrorism, exactly the kind of comments the White House has tried to avoid in recent weeks for fear of further undercutting the chances of resuming peace negotiations.While it's certainly newsworthy to point out a change in administration strategy, the Times could at least avoid making it sound as if Bush is committing a blunder. Instead, though, they emphasize the point that they don't believe Bush knows what he's doing.
Mr. Bush made a series of other phone calls today to affirm to Arab leaders that he remained committed to the peace process and planned to keep Gen. Anthony C. Zinni in the Middle East in the hope that talks might resume. But administration officials acknowledged that while the president had to keep alive talk of a peace process, his comments were detached from the reality in Jerusalem today. And Mr. Bush, at times drumming his fingers on a conference table, had the demeanor of a man who recognized the limits of his powers of persuasion, and had few illusions that he had the ability to change Mr. Sharon's strategy or Mr. Arafat's use of terror.What exactly is "the demeanor of a man who recognizes the limits of his powers of persuasion?" I can picture "happy," "confused," or "frightened," but "recognizing the limits of ones powers" is a little too complex for me to imagine.
The article goes on in this vein, making it clear that in David Sanger's view, the formula for peace is for Bush to restrain Ariel Sharon, and disapproving of Bush's decision not to do so. Now, that may or may not be correct, but it seems to go slightly beyond the scope of the news section to determine.