Attorney / Blogger / Friend Don Burton e-mailed me this article from the NYT that compares and contrasts the biking habits of President Bush (mountain) and John Kerry (road) in an effort to divine something about the respective characters of each. In reality, the piece does more to show the Times' naked bias towards Kerry, even in articles as light and unimportant as this one. First, the piece explains that President Bush rides a Trek Fuel 90, the least expensive of Trek's full-suspension mountain bikes. Here's how the Times describes it:
Mr. Bush keeps a Trek Fuel 90 at his Texas ranch, the site of his tumble on May 22. The Fuel 90, one of the snazzier of Trek's mountain bikes, retails for more than $1,500. [Emphasis mine.]
Yeah, the Fuel 90 is pretty snazzy, but not too dear. And, the bike's suggested retail price is $1,549.99, a whopping $49.99 more than $1,500, which is not all that expensive for a serious recreational rider, as the President appears to be. (I spent more than that on my Voodoo, and I only ride it about twice a month.) According to the article, here's why the President rides a Trek:
Mr. Bush's choice of Trek is hardly surprising, given that the company is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of quality bikes and its president, John Burke, is a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Trek's sponsored athlete is Lance Armstrong, the five-time Tour de France winner from Austin, Tex., who presented his friend the president with a Trek bike at the White House in 2001.
While everything in this paragraph is true, it leaves out two important facts, i.e., that Trek is headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin and that most (if not all) of Trek bikes that retail for more than $1,000 are manufactured and built in the U.S. Why is this important? Because the NYT piece makes a big deal out of the fact that Kerry's custom-made Serotta road bike is built in Saratoga Springs:
It was difficult to determine if Mr. Burke is a Republican, since he declined repeated requests for an interview. But it could be determined that Ben Serotta, the maker of John Kerry's road bikes, is politically compatible with one of his most famous customers.
"I come from a fairly long line of Democrats," Mr. Serotta said in a telephone interview from the headquarters of Serotta Competition Bicycles in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. If Mr. Kerry won the election, he said, "we certainly would not be disappointed."
Mr. Kerry owns two road bikes from Serotta, a niche manufacturer that serves a high-end market. The senator has an Ottrott, which retails with custom-added parts for an average of $8,000, and an older Colorado III. Mr. Kerry also has mountain bikes for the trails near his home in Ketchum, Idaho. [Emphasis mine.]
I imagine the article points out that Serotta is an American company to keep Kerry from seeming like an even bigger Euro-weenie, of which the President would never be accused, but the Times still should have given the Prez equal credit for buying American. Even more egregious, though, is the way the piece dismisses the fact that Kerry owns not one but two Serottas, costing approximately $15,000, with nary a loaded adjective. So, the "populist" who would be president has more tied up in his bicycles than some people have in their cars. Not to mention a number of other bikes at his Idaho ranch. Warrants mentioning.
Then the piece really goes off the deep end, somehow turning Kerry's mean-spirited training wheels remark about President Bush's recent biking accident into a criticism of Bush:
When Mr. Bush had his spill, Mr. Kerry's reaction rapidly coursed through political cyberspace. According to The Drudge Report, Mr. Kerry said to reporters in what he believed was an off-the-record remark, "Did the training wheels fall off?"
The Chicago Sun-Times then reported that Chicago's Democratic mayor, Richard M. Daley - who ripped the skin off his kneecap in a bicycle accident a few years ago - had scolded Mr. Kerry for the wisecrack. "You should not wish ill upon anyone," Mr. Daley said.
The Republican National Committee then seized on Mr. Daley's remarks and sent them out as an attack e-mail under the headline "They said it!"
Mr. Kerry took his own fall from a bike on May 2 after he hit a patch of sand on a two-lane road in Concord, Mass. Mr. Kerry had no injuries and Mr. Bush had no reaction, at least none that we know of.
Wow. First, they're still pushing that "off the record" excuse, as though that makes Kerry's snipe okay (and as though it would have mattered if Bush had made the remark about Kerry). Second, what is an "attack e-mail" and to whom was it sent? Finally, and perhaps most appallingly, the piece insinuates based upon no facts whatsoever that the President elated in Kerry's accident, but simply did so outside the company of the press. Pathetic.
Last, I take umbrage with the article referring to Kerry as a "jock." A guy who catches like this is no jock.