In a 'Cloud' of Controversy?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

In a “Cloud” of Controversy?

Time magazine reporter John Cloud (search) is now catching fire for this week's cover story on Ann Coulter (search), the blowtorch conservative commentator. In the piece, Cloud noted factual errors in Coulter's work, but said that she's still one of the most effective commentators in the business.

Media columnist Eric Alterman (search) accuses cloud of "whitewashing" Coulter. writer Eric Boehlert (search) insists Cloud is trying to "placate conservative[s]" and is "standing on the sidelines and cheering" as "Coulter purposefully drive[s] political discourse into the ground." Others have said Time is just trying to sell copies by putting an attractive female on the cover. Cloud says all that is "absurd," and "part of [a] left-wing attack machine." In an interview with Columbia Journalism Review, he called his piece "very fair."

France Siding with China

With the U.S. and Japan pleading with Europe not to lift its embargo on arms sales to China, the French prime minister has gone to Beijing to side firmly with the Chinese. In an interview with a Chinese news service, Jean-Pierre Raffarin (search) called China a "responsible great nation." As for the arms embargo, he called it "unfair, outdated and discriminatory," adding that it was "counter to the current state of the strategic partnership between the European Union and China."

After all, Raffarin said, China will surely continue to live in peace and harmony with its neighbors. The Chinese Government says it appreciates France's understanding.

Ratzinger "Handed Bush Presidency"?

Pope Benedict XVI (search) has ignited criticism across the American left, but none stronger than that of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal (search), who's claiming that Ratzinger, "handed [George] Bush the presidency by tipping the Catholic vote." In a column on, Blumenthal accuses Pope Benedict, who was then Cardinal Ratzinger, of scaring Catholics from voting for John Kerry, by saying that anyone who voted for a pro-choice candidate "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil." Blumenthal insists, "Even with his atmospherics of terrorism and Sept. 11, Bush required the benediction of the Holy See as his saving grace. The key to his kingdom was turned by Cardinal Ratzinger."

Kerry's Concern

Speaking of Kerry and the church, he is now condemning Republicans for injecting a religious "orthodoxy of view" into politics. At a seminar on Capitol Hill (search) yesterday, he said, "I am sick and tired of [Republicans saying] they somehow have a better understanding of ... the Judeo-Christian ethic ... You show me where in the New Testament Jesus ever talked about the value of having taxes and taking money from the poor people to give to the rich people."

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report