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Op-Ed or Op-Ad? | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Op-Ed or Op-Ad?

Has the Washington Post op-ed page gone into the "Op-Ad" business? In early September, the paper published an op-ed piece by Mark Penn, a paid political adviser to Democratic Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman. The piece was a big wet kiss for Lieberman's candidacy, a lecture to wayward party activists and another warmed over Democratic Leadership Council sermon. You know the drill:

"...People are seeking a progressive moderate -- someone who is strong on defense and earns high marks on personal values..."

Penn's "Op-Ad" bashed Howard Dean for making the party look weak on defense, criticized Gephardt's healthcare plan for its price tag, and attacked Kerry for abandoning Clinton's trade policy. "Most Democrats," he insisted, "want to see a moderate candidate for President." What Penn doesn't say is that Lieberman continues to preach a Republican-lite line that is so out of touch with political realities on the ground that it sometimes inspires laughter at Democratic Party gatherings.

Unless the Washington Post is going to make this a series, and give space to each of the candidates's principal advisers so they too might expound on the virtues of their employer/candidates, Penn's piece should have been marked "Op-Ad," not Op-Ed.

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