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Major-League [Expletive] Newsman Finds Redemption

Politicians who have been maligned by the media find redemption all the time. So why shouldn't that be the case for journalists who have been maligned by politicians?

It seems to have happened for Adam Clymer, the former New York Times correspondent who once was considered an enemy of the Right but who now seems to be, dare we say, a darling of the conservative establishment. That's the same Adam Clymer who conservatives collectively rallied against after 2000 GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush, not realizing his microphone was on, dubbed the newsman a "major-league ---hole" and Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, affirmed, "Yeah, big time."

Even though Rush Limbaugh still uses "Clymer" as a synonym for a certainly bodily aperture, Clymer has made a comeback in right-leaning circles with his new book "Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch: The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right."

Calling it an "overlooked moment in American history," Clymer argues that congressional approval of the first of the two 1978 canal treaties was a critical event in the growth of the conservative movement, which led the way for the rise of Ronald Reagan. And apparently that's all it takes to get a bunch of conservatives who once hated your guts to love the dickens out of you.

Notable conservatives including former congressman Phil Crane (R-Ill.), American Conservative Union chairman David Keene, Thomas Winter, editor in chief of Human Events magazine, and lobbyist Bernie Robinson are hosting a book party for Clymer on April 1. And they swear it isn't an April Fools joke.

Clymer says despite hearing his name used interchangeably for the bad word Bush called him and fielding his fair share of abusive e-mail messages, thanks to a conservative Web site that posted his personal e-mail address, he "usually got along pretty well" with the conservatives he covered. "When it came to researching the book, no conservative refused to talk to me," he said.

As for whether he thinks he has found redemption and transcended the moniker Bush gave him at that Labor Day campaign rally in 2000, Clymer tells us, "Given all the cooperation I've had from conservatives on this book I think I'm probably past the problem I had with some of them in 2000."

The two most famous "some of them" -- President "Major League" Bush and Vice President "Big Time" Cheney -- weren't invited to next week's book party.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 26, 2008; 5:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

Ironically, in hindsight the Canal deal was probably the best thing that could have happened for stability and enhancing U.S. influence in Latin America. Let's give Carter some credit here. Was it politically popular? No. Was it forward-thinking in terms of the practical 21st-century obsolescence of an early 20th- century engineering achievement? Yes. Was it good in the long run? Yes and no, if Clymer's book is right. I'll admit that Reagan may have been good in the short term for what ailed America at the time, but now that the conservative revolution has run its course, started downhill by Gingrich and bottoming out with the neo-cons, maybe the side effects were not all that great.

Posted by: flarrfan | March 26, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Adam Clymer is a good newsman - and a good guy. Bush and Cheney are beneath contempt and I suspect Mr. Clymer will survive without their approbation.

Posted by: Dan Walter | March 27, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Mary Ann Akers is apparently unaware that 'the Right' is not as monolithic as, say, the Washington-based press corps, in terms of its political likes, dislikes, and personal attitudes. (The boring predictability of the Beltway press is why NEWSWEEK's snarky 'Conventional Wisdom watch exists - to serve, without intending to do so, as a chronicle of chattering-class faddishness and conformity.) As is depressingly common, what is being illustrated is the lack of sophistication on the part of Akers and MSM colleague about the GOP, its constituent groups and spokesmen, and its voting blocs. Perhaps the ideological narrowness of Big Media is one of the reasons that predictive political journalism has been uncommonly poor this election season.

At some point, conscientious editors and writers have got to look back at their work and ask themselves if they've been unintentionally making themselves look foolish by indulging repeatedly in frozen liberal stereotypes. What, a Mr. Clean like Ralph Nader can turn out to be (as 'the Right' has wearily understood for decades) a self-righteous kook? A Mr. Clean like Eliot Spitzer can turn out to be exposed as the arrogant jerk his Republican enemies have portrayed him to be? Who knew? We're bewildered. Poor babies.

It will be a long time, I predict, before Mary Ann Akers will write about a liberal gathering and unflinchingly use the term 'the Left' in a sweeping, stereotypical context, even though people on the Left are a sometimes comical social stereotype in real life outside urban America. Much easier to write another column about Larry Craig or someting safe like that.

Posted by: Mark Richard | March 27, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

If "Clymer" means one body aperture, "Rush" surely means a cavity or two.

Posted by: DFC | March 27, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Mr.Richard, like nobody has been making overarching generalizations about "liberals" the last few decades? Ms. Akers may not write the column you propose, but God knows, someone will, indeed, has. Akers's use of a stereotype is no more or less useful than -- say -- Ann Coulter's.

Posted by: ram | March 27, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: votenic | March 27, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Remember that Richard Nixon pushed for passage of the Panama Canal treaty, but never go around to shepherding it through Congress due to his premature (timely?) exit due to the Watergate scandal. Gerald Ford was so weakened by his decision to pardon Nixon that he was not able to get the treaty approved during his brief presidency either.
Of course, many conservatives have short memories and are fond of historical revisionism when it suits their purposes, but, in supporting the Panama Canal treaty, Richard Nixon correctly recalled that when the United States helped build the Panama Canal, we promised the newly created country of Panama that we would eventually deed the canal over to the Panamanian people.

Posted by: skyeirvin | March 27, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not the Chinese that control the Panama Canal, now?

If this is the case, I would have to say it was a fantastic move by our government. (Sarcasm)

Posted by: Q Jordon | March 27, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

If "Clymer" is synonymous with a body aperture, then consider the G.W. Bush over the Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 27, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"Adam Clymer is a good newsman - and a good guy. Bush and Cheney are beneath contempt and I suspect Mr. Clymer will survive without their approbation."

Especially now that the "Right" is turning on Bush with a vengeance. Watch their revisionist claims that they really didn't support The complete and total disaster that is the Bush Administration.

That leaves Clymer in an interesting metaphorical space with respect to Larry Craig, Ted Haggard and Rick Santorum.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 27, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Don't be too hard on the guy. Even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.

Posted by: James E. Fish | March 27, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Don't be too hard on the guy. Even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.

Posted by: James E. Fish | March 27, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Don't be too hard on the guy. Even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.

Posted by: James E. Fish | March 27, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Don't be too hard on the guy. Even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.

Posted by: James E. Fish | March 27, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Mr. Ram, are you really comparing Mary Ann Akers and Ann Coulter in terms of how representative each is of 'the media'? My objection to mainstream media squeamishness about pigeonholing ideological liberals as a sterotype stands. Very few liberal activists would be open-minded enough to be caught at a book party for a Fox News journalist who had written an admiring biography, let us say, Jesse Helms, and generally followed the Fox News editorial line in his journalistic analysis. Even if some activists did, Akers wouldn't write that the journalist had found 'redemption' in the eyes of a presumptively rigid and intolerant Left.

And if you don't believe liberal activists are characteristically rigid in their self-righteousness - the stereotype to which I refer - you haven't been paying much attention to this year's Democratic presidential race.

Posted by: Mark Richard | March 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Mr. Ram, are you really comparing Mary Ann Akers and Ann Coulter in terms of how representative each is of 'the media'? My objection to mainstream media squeamishness about pigeonholing ideological liberals as a sterotype stands. Very few liberal activists would be open-minded enough to be caught at a book party for a Fox News journalist who had written an admiring biography, let us say, Jesse Helms, and generally followed the Fox News editorial line in his journalistic analysis. Even if some activists did, Akers wouldn't write that the journalist had found 'redemption' in the eyes of a presumptively rigid and intolerant Left.

And if you don't believe liberal activists are characteristically rigid in their self-righteousness - the stereotype to which I refer - you haven't been paying much attention to this year's Democratic presidential race.

Posted by: Mark Richard | March 28, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I might add that besides the canal treaties, Jimmy Carter's Spirit of Born Again America and his lusting for women in his heart did'nt just add to the conservative movement in the US,it created it single handedly and the Republicans ,aka repooplicans,took off with it as a way to insure that their wallets belonged to them and only to them.
Jimmy Carter wouldn't approve of this message and Rush Limbaugh whose program is for entertainment puposes only, wouldn't credit it.

dePaul Consiglio

depaulconsiglio@gmail.com

Posted by: dePaul Consiglio | March 28, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Another example of the moral relativism that infects partisans of all political stripes these days. If you say/write something I disagree with, you're an #$%! and biased. If you say/write something I agree with, you're telling it like it is and a credit to your profession.

Posted by: bpai99 | March 31, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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