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Newsweek defends ignoring Obama critic’s ties to Bush

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Readers don’t need to be informed that a Newsweek contributor who has written critical analyses of the Obama administration was a Bush administration adviser, a representative for the news weekly says.

Since the inauguration of President Obama, former Bush White House bioethics adviser Yuval Levin has written several items for Newsweek, among them an analysis published earlier this month in which Levin argued that the Democrats missed an opportunity to divide the Republican Party by not including tax cuts in the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus package.

“A moderate stimulus bill that offered a short-term boost and included a meaningful tax-cut component, for instance, might have won a very significant number of Republican votes in Congress last winter and launched a damaging internal GOP battle over the proper role of the opposition,” Levin wrote.

As numerous bloggers have since pointed out, Levin’s analysis overlooked the fact that the stimulus package included $280 billion in tax cuts, and still received no votes from Republican congresspeople. That oversight opened Newsweek to accusations of bias.

Now Ari Melber at The Nation writes that Newsweek doesn’t believe readers need to know that Levin was a member of the Bush White House as recently as 2006.

“We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin’s background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin’s recent piece was,” spokesperson Katherina Barna said in explaining why Levin’s byline states that he is “editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center,” but doesn’t mention his links to the Republican Party.

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“Does anyone think most readers keep track of White House staff by name?” Melber asks. “Or that readers memorized Levin’s affiliation from March? It’s hard to tell if the magazine somehow believes this argument, or just doesn’t care that it’s not very believable.”

Levin’s specious claims about the stimulus package are not the first time he has been criticized for something he wrote in Newsweek. In February, Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan described Levin’s analysis of the stimulus package as reading “as if we live on Mars.”

How do you write a column about the stimulus package while barely mentioning the only reason it existed at all: the sharpest depression since the 1930s? Yuval Levin managed it. How do you write it without mentioning well over $300 billion in tax cuts from a Democratic president (far more than anything the Republican actually proposed last fall)? Levin managed that too.

In June, Levin teamed up with conservative writer and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol in an article declaring their opposition to health care reform, which the duo dubbed “ObamaCare.”

The American public is right. ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated. … If we do, and this fight goes well, the struggle to save the country from ObamaCare could mark the beginning of a new center-right coalition to restrain the grossly excessive ambitions of the administration and congressional Democrats, with regard not only to health care but to spending and borrowing, and to the role and reach of government more broadly.

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2020 Election

Who are all these white men running for president — and why?

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The country’s last presidential election was wide open, with incumbent president Barack Obama termed out of office and his vice president, Joe Biden, opting not to run as his replacement. While the vacancy looked like an opportunity for the 16 Republican men (and one woman) who ran in 2016, Democrats essentially cleared the field for Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win the party’s presidential nomination. Her only two challengers were white men; one who eventually became a star at the center of his own political movement and the other who was shortly reduced to strumming his guitar shirtless for attention.

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Trump claims credit for immigration surge — while also blaming Democrats — in early morning tweet rant

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President Donald Trump claimed credit for the influx of migrants crossing the U.S. border -- as a tragic photograph of a drowned father and his toddler daughter lying face-down in the Rio Grande shocks the nation's conscience.

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‘Part of the stench’: CNN’s Anderson Cooper skewers Mike Pence

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While Presiden Donald Trump has been trying to drum up fears about a crisis driven by waves of immigrants trying to invade the United States, the real crisis is a humanitarian one that forced many asylum seekers from Central America to leave their homes in the first place. And that humanitarian crisis continues on American soil in the camps and detention centers where children and others are being held in horrendous conditions, as many recent reports have documented.

CNN"s Anderson Cooper reflected on the crisis and the administration's attempts to shift the blame to others on his show Tuesday night.

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