Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place!
Dec. 7, 2003 -- NEW YORK (apj.us) -- Welcome to "silly season" -- with an attitude.
Usually, the Sunday morning political chat shows are dominated by monumentally superficial "issues" in that period between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of January. Thankfully, this is that "every fourth year" when a presidential campaign is looming -- one that is looking increasingly close and contentious, and one in which there had been no clear leader among Democrats seeking to unseat former Texas governor George W. Bush, who has spent nearly three years squatting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And a new issue seems to be emerging, thanks in part to the phony-baloney Medicare "reform" foisted on America by Dim Son, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich: a systematic attack on the New Deal social safety net instituted over half a century ago during the years of President Franklin Roosevelt.
Right-wingers simply hate these compassionate programs -- a system of looking after Americans in need that has in fact enhanced the strength and stability of our nation. Democrats are now poised to seize on the former Texas governor's assertion that he's a "compassionate conservative" and unspin it into a simple truth: he has compassion only for large corporations (especially the de facto energy cartel), special interests that buy access to the GOP, and conservative social engineers out to destroy to cultural fabric of America with a stealth libertarian-cum-theocratic agenda.
Sen. Sen. Clinton (D-NY, as if we have to remind you), who was a guest on two of the prominent Sunday shows, did not merely touch on this issue -- she made it abundantly clear that this will be a prominent plank in the 2004 race which will elect (that is, if you can actually trust out election system any more) a president, a third of the Senate,m and the entire House of Representatives.
Here's a little of the Sunday action for your perusal...
Sen. Clinton began her interview with Steph and Will surprisingly soft-spoken in her criticism of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but not for long.
She started by saying she feels that more troops are needed in Iraq -- a division's worth -- along with more candor about what exactly the US military's mission is and how it should be carried out. The Senator was gently critical of Gen. Abizaid's claim that there are enough troops in Iraq by pointing out it is in fact the wrong troop mix, and more intelligence and logistical forces are badly needed. Surprisingly, she seemed to be on the same page as Will in that both feel that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not stable. Will, echoing a typical black-and-white conservative straw man argument about the Iraq mess, seemed to be trying to push the notion that the two alternatives in Iraq are democratization or a religious dictatorship, but Sen. Clinton said that the ingredients for stability are still "not on the ground" in Iraq in the first place.
Steph shifted from the issue of troops to the more volatile issue of policy and planning for Iraq, saying that Sen. Clinton has been suggesting that the Iraqi timetable is being driven by the election calendar, and even gave her a little support by citing a member of the Iraqi Governing Council who says as much. Sen. Clinton said she "hopes not." (Translation: "... but it sure as hell looks like it, doesn't it, George? Smells like the Bush Boy wants to push for quick and dirty elections and then he'll claim that he democratized the entire region.") Sen. Clinton pointed out both the chaos that is certain to surround the annual hajj in February and the logistics of rotating troops in and out. "So how long do the troops have to stay?" Sen. Clinton pointed out that the United States is still in Germany: "There is not doubt that we are going to be there for years" and there is a strong likelihood of pitfalls on the path to democracy. (Translation: not only won't the situation stay on the Cheney-Card-Chalabi-Perle schedule, but it shouldn't, lest the whole situation spiral into further chaos.) Sen. Clinton even asked what flavor of democracy will prevail -- will it be democracy along American-style or ethno-religious lines? (Translation: maybe it's not such a bad idea for a bicameral legislature that gives Kurds, Sunnis and other minorities a little more representation.)
Sen. Clinton even gave her bottom line: six years to a month is unrealistic for bringing a stable government to Iraq. (Translation: we will keep Iraq an issue, and even if the Junior Bush shows prudence there is every intent of Democrats to use the Iraq mess as a hot-button issue.)
Steph then tried to attack Sen. Clinton for criticizing the extremism of the Bush Boy's agenda, specifically his attempts to destroy nearly two-thirds of a century of the New Deal. Sen. Clinton reminded Steph of not only the economic stability but international respect for the US that came out of the liberal agenda since FDR. So why are "so many Democrats" voting with McFlightsuit? Sen. Clinton took the opportunity to slam the pretend-a-dent for abusing the authority which Congress gave him. Will asked if Sen. Clinton had been referring to the PATRIOT Act -- and tried to claim that Dianne Feinstein's office somehow proves this is all campaign rhetoric. Sen. Clinton said it goes beyond PATRIOT -- American citizens are being held incommunicado. Will tried to draw the false dichotomy between freedom and safety, saying "we" haven't been attacked since Sept. 11, 2001. Sen. Clinton said security building blocks are in place, but we have a long way to go. (Translation: we should never sacrifice our valued rights at the altar of "security" -- otherwise the terrorists win. We wish she'd come out and said that.)
Then Steph played footage from last week's turgid episode of This Weak in which Sen. John Breaux (Democrat in name only-LA) attacking Howard Dean. Sen. Clinton said that the present vigorous campaign is comparable to 1991, when Bill Clinton broke through after being seen as an afterthought by pundits, politicians and the media. She smiled as she said the party must and will stand behind the nominee -- and any one of the candidates is better than the Bush Boy. And despite Steph's goading, Sen. Clinton would not name favorites. Will picked up on John Breaux's argument that Dean will not fly in the South, and Sen. Clinton said she's skeptical about "Monday morning quarterbacking." Will and Steph tried to say the economy was great (huh? are they getting all of their economic news from the Moonie Times?) -- but Sen. Clinton said that there will be a net job loss by next November and huge deficits passed on to the next generation. Will tried to say America is "more productive than ever before" -- which gave Sen. Clinton the chance to blast outsourcing and the lack of an economic policy from the present Misadministration.
Will Sen. Clinton run for Vice President this time around? No way, she said.
We do want to point out that George Will really seemed to enjoy the back-and-forth with Sen. Clinton -- and Steph seemed to be a little more aloof than normal. Looks like Steph is the one who should be admitting he's "all too human," as the title of his Clinton-bashing tome read.
FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace
We decided to sample the FNS with Wallace at the helm. After catching the first segment (we had to change channels at half-tine to catch the corpulent Tim Russert), we have these four simple words to offer to FOX News high poobah Roger Ailes:
BRING BACK TONY SNOW!
Sure, his politics run the range from conservative to hard-right. But we loved Tony's sardonic attitude, fast-paced questioning, and smartass (not to mention genuinely funny) sense of humor. Sure, we hated the "fair and balanced" conservative bias of the show, but Tony Snow remains one of the most talented interviewers on television, and much as we smack him around in Pundit Pap on regular occasion, we miss him already.
Chris Wallace's first outing as host was inauspicious, to say the least. His first guest was Card, and both Chris and Andy spent about three minutes putting lipstick on the pig that is the nation's foundering economy. (It's "surging" and unemployment is "down" -- and if you believe that, we can WIN the war in Iraq!) But Chris did throw some water on Andy's good news by pointing out that Chimpy may be the first president since Herbert Hoover to leave the country with fewer jobs than when he was elected.
Then, as Chris turned to the lifting of what McSmirkster calls "terriers and bariffs" on steel, our local FOX affiliate switched to a "FOX News Alert" on the storm that hit the Northeast over the last few days. We were cynical enough to suspect that the local FOX management must have been watching the stultifying, sleep-inducing performance of Mr. Wallace, and decided to go to far more entertaining blizzard fare -- but after about two minutes, we caught the tail end of a few steel industry bullet points from Card. Ho-hum.
Chris then pulled up a chart from, of all "reliable" sources, the Heritage Foundation propaganda mill showing that conservatives are not happy about Little George's big-spending ways. (We're actually cynical enough to think that Ailes and company are sending a message to Big Energy and the PhRMA -- if they want Heritage to stop picking on their "preznit," they'd better send money!) Andy Card lied, saying that the Doofus-in-chief is a great watchdog for taxpayers. (Translation: he's doing a great job looking after the interests of huge corporate taxpayers such as Pfizer, Boeing and Southern Company, making sure they get plenty of pork and tax cuts.)
Chris hit back, saying that El Chimpo has not vetoed one spending bill. Card muttered some reflexive talking points.
Then Chris attacked Sen. Clinton for daring to say that Boy George's Iraq timetable is dictated by politics. Card feigned indignation, praising the military and claiming that we will democratize those heathen Mohammedans whether they like it or not, dammit (well, that's not how he worded it, but that's surely what he meant).
Card, who is not the sharpest knife in Cheney's drawer (or in America's back, for that matter), also delivered the most hilariously inept talking-point phrase of the week with respect to our goals in Iraq: "developing a sovereignty situation."
It had us laughing -- though not as hard as we were last night when Al Sharpton hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live and wowed 'em, brilliantly delivering not only the laughs but a way-cool cover of James Brown's "I Feel Good" with Tracy Morgan that probably had the Godfather of Soul himself cutting the rug in front of his TV.
Chris them welcomed Howard Dean -- and tried to tar him as the "Teflon-coated" candidate (translation: how dare you steal Ronald Reagan's nonstick coating), but Chris's cheap shot rolled off Dean as he said things are heating up with six weeks to go to the official start of primary season. Chris then said he would "throw some things" at Dean (we laughed -- we're sure that the FOX News hierarchy and the Cheney-Rove Cadre would love to lob a few things at the Deanster). Chris then quoted Dean (somewhat out of context) saying he would teach the Bush Boy a few things about defense and then blasting Bush's lack of moral purpose. Dean answered by attacking Incurious George for screwing veterans by cutting their health benefits. But Chris, bless his black heart, seemed really miffed that Dean couldn't see that the Texas Dauphin has a "moral purpose" (if you watch FOX News Channel on a regular basis, this seems to be an underlying foundation of their slanted coverage -- we found it surprising that Chris would come out and say it so overtly). Dean slapped Chris down, pointing out the disconnect between "moral purpose" and the Bush Boy's actions. Chris, predictably, said that taking out that nasty Saddam Hussein is proof that AWOL Boy has "moral purpose." Dean said that Bush Boy's daddy went in with a real coalition -- and we had the thuggish Saddam contained when Little George decided to have his was with Saddam.
Chris then played a video in which Dean said that there is an interesting theory that the Smirk Junta was tipped off to the Sept. 11, 2001 by Saudis. Chris tried to claim that Dean believed it -- but Dean said he didn't, and it is "interesting" because it's such a popular theory. (Translation: don't try to put words in my mouth, Chris -- you're no Tony Snow!)
Chris tried to attack Dean for not making his records public and giving different (but NOT mutually exclusive) reasons. Dean pointed out that some governors seal their records for life -- and some just take them outright. Dean said that there remain questions about whether they can in fact be opened -- and now that Judicial Watch is suing, why not let a judge go through each and every document to determine which should be released? Chris tried to say some of those private letters have been made public -- which Dean used as an argument for going through each record.
Then Chris tried to attack Dean for saying that the GOP has been exploiting "God, guns and gays." This only gave Dean the chance to say that these wedge issues divert attention from a tanking economy, attacks on the nation's education system, and the failure of Republicans to assure that workers have jobs and insurance. Chris tried to claim that Dean wants to take "moral" issues off the table (a-HA! so THAT is the "fair and balanced" FOX opinion -- that George Jr. is a moral leader and Howard Dean is an amoral, draft-dodging slimeball who hates America) -- but Dean replied by saying he's in favor of the right to own firearms. Chris: Don't Americans care about values? Dean said that it's up to states to make many of these judgments -- the problem is that the GOP has actually claimed that minorities are out to "steal" jobs, and that's simply not true -- in fact, it's divisive.
Then Dean launched into an unchallenged attack on the values of the GOP: sticking up for their corporate controllers at the expense of the well-being of people.
Chris Wallace didn't get in much of anything in the way of a final "word," in effect letting Dean's strong point about GOP-ocrisy reverberate.
Meet the Press
Tim seemed incensed from the outset of Meet the Press that Sen. Clinton would dare to say that Smirky wants to tie his Iraq timetable to reelection. Sen. Clinton said that she hopes not -- but it appears so. She repeated her cautions about the hajj and transitions that are at risk that she had stated on This Week. Tim asked her to elaborate on her assertion that we will be in Iraq for a long time. Sen. Clinton replied by saying there was no doubt we would win the initial military conflict, but the postwar situation has not been handled well, and straight talk from the administration has been lacking. Sen. Clinton cautioned that we still have troops in Kosovo, Bosnia and South Korea -- and it took ten years for a stable government in Germany to take hold. She elaborated: we established a slow and solid process for Afghanistan; in Iraq, we would be smarter to establish an internationally coordinated transition that will be seen as legitimate.
Tim tried to back Sen. Clinton into a corner by asking of she would increase troops in Iraq if she were President. Instead, Sen. Clinton said NATO has failed to live up to their obligation to send enough troops to Afghanistan. The problem in Afghanistan and Iraq is that there is not enough international participation -- so, for example, the US might go back to the UN with a better plan for international participation in the rebuilding.
Sen. Clinton also said that in Iraq, women now live in greater fear because crime and religious extremism are both on the rise.
Tim suggested that Iraq would choose an extremist fundamentalist Islamic regime. Sen. Clinton said that given that we are in fact in a position to establish minority rights, a fundamentalist state could well be avoided with the proper safeguards.
Is Iraq more of a terrorist threat than it was nine months ago? Sen. Clinton said Saddam was a threat to his neighbors, but made no direct attacks on the US -- the problem is that the situation in Iraq is unstable.
Tim then sounded as if he were attacking Sen. Clinton for saying Saddam had WMDs, but then qualified the attack by actually saying, "Were you misled?" Sen. Clinton all but said yes as she pointed to inadequate intelligence and exaggeration by the present Misadministration.
And then Sen. Clinton asked the magic question (one which we are sure will be asked as the 2004 campaign kicks into full gear): Why hasn't this administration had the nerve to find out what actually went wrong? We need to know this, she said, particularly since this administration needs 100% accurate intelligence if it intends to use and justify the doctrine of preemption.
Do you regret voting to give the Bush Boy authority to go to war? No, but even though he went to the UN, she regrets that the process of going to war was short-circuited and he "misused the authority" to declare war (look for that to be another talking point on the rise as the election campaign kicks in).
Tim then tried to attack Sen. Clinton for daring to criticize the President in Iraq. Sen. Clinton let fly a great zinger about the right-wing communications apparatus (that means YOU, Tim) before saying that troop morale was high. And when Tim quoted the ludicrous Washington "Moonie" Times, Sen. Clinton laughed out loud at their attack on her trip and their spin that she had been "overshadowed" by the Bush Boy's turkey of a photo-op Sen. Clinton said that given the explosion of information and news thanks to the Internet, we have to stay committed to Iraq -- and all the "happy talk" from Smirk and Company actually hurt the troops in the long run. Tim fell back on the old "you shouldn't criticize Bush in time of war" line, to which Sen. Clinton said that she is not going to lie to the troops -- and the fact is that the government has never given our troops the full support that they deserve, not enough body armor or armored Humvees.
When Tim turned the subject to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, Sen. Clinton took the opportunity to quote a GI who had said, "Welcome to the front line in the war on terrorism." (Translation: as opposed to Iraq.) Tim talked opium poppies, and Sen. Clinton talked about NATO's failure to fulfill their commitment to Afghanistan. She cited inadequate troops to rebuild the country and stem the rebounding opium poppy business.
Tim then quoted Leon Panetta's concerns about Howard Dean. Does Dean have the foreign policy experience to be president? Sen. Clinton said, as she had on ABC, that she is not going to comment on the candidates and will fully support the Democratic candidate. National security is an issue -- we need better homeland security, more prudent use of the military, and more diplomacy -- especially with potential rivals. Tim then said that Sen. Clinton is the Democrats' preferred nominee -- and Sen. Clinton said she's not going to run but she appreciates the support of Democrats -- which she will use to campaign for a new president. Would you accept the nomination in a deadlocked convention? Sen. Clinton said she has ruled it our -- and she's running out of ways to say "No!" She is NOT accepting the nomination.
Usually that's where interviewers always end their segments with the Senator. But that wasn't all from Tim -- after trading some shots about steel tariffs, Tim tried to ridicule Sen. Clinton for her "vast right wing conspiracy" comment. Sen. Clinton said she only regrets calling it a "conspiracy" because it's so out in the open -- a well-funded infrastructure to undo the New Deal and "radically restructure" (i.e. destroy) workers' rights, which were in effect the secret agenda of the Bush Boy's handlers.
(Translation: you want a right-wing conspiracy? You think I was joking? You press whores are going to start to regret that you mocked me -- because working Americans are now going to see that that is what they are up against.)
We all but ignored the next guest, disgraced has-been Newt Gingrich -- although he admitted in slightly different words that we won the war in Iraq with the de facto Clinton-era military, and are losing the peace thanks to Smirk-era mismanagement. He was trying like crazy to distance himself from comments made to a magazine that all but blame Chimpy McFlightsuit personally for the qWagmire.
Memo to NBC: so what if Newt was the "eminence grease" behind the phony-baloney Medicare "reform"? He's poison for the country and for NBC's reputation. Leave him to sully FOX News Channel -- even Jack Welch should know better.