Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place!
for June 27, 2004
Miserable Failure Preview
by the Pundit Pap Team
June 27, 2004 (apj.us) -- Another lazy Sunday, and, not surprisingly, many of our writers decided to take the weekend off. Who can blame them? This Sunday's prognostications provided nothing in the way of headlines or surprises. Three trends, however, were very noticeable:
The pundits are pessimistic about Iraq's future, with a matter of days remaining until the transition from the Iraqi Governing Council to autonomous government, following a week of devastating insurgent attacks, direct threats by militants against incoming Iraqi Prime Minister Ilad Allawi, and hostage takings and beheadings. The Media Mandarins were not coming out and saying it, but there is very much the atmosphere of overall miserable failure by the Bush Regime.
Michael Moore's phenomenally popular documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is a lead-pipe cinch for highest-grossing movie of the weekend, this despite being shown on just under 1000 screens. The right-leaning opinionocrats are furious, and did their best to characterize the film as a "polemic" or "screed" -- but failing to successfully claim that the film was factually inaccurate, that is if they even tried that tack at all.
The Bush Boy's diplomatic jaunt to Ireland and Turkey went over like a lead balloon, and not even Li'l George's supporters could deny that it was a humiliation. Foreign leaders blasted his Iraq policy and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, he has failed to do much of anything (so far) to get a substantial commitment from NATO, and, most embarrassingly, he looked like an arrogant little snot when RTE reporter Carol Coleman asked him probing questions -- questions which the Son King's retinue had approved in advance -- and he whined when she tried to follow up and draw out more specific answers, essentially telling her to shut up so he could spew his complete bullet-pointed, tortured, rehearsed answers. The Crawford Creep retaliated for Ms. Coleman's commission of journalistic responsibility by cancelling an interview with Laura "Pickles" Stepford Bush. We'll bet RTE was actually releieved -- heck, that would mean they could run more coverage of the protests that delayed one of the schedule-obsessed Shrubbie W. McWarboy by a quarter hour. There was hardly any mention of Bush's appearance in a t-shirt when a news camera captured a shot of him from outside the castle in which he was staying changing his clothes.
There was passing mention on all of the shows of Dick Cheney's use of the "F" word on the Senate floor -- mostly in a jocular context, mostly leaving out the key detail that Cheney was responding to a critical comment by Sen. Patrick Leahy, and always without reference to Cheney's repeated promises that he wanted to restore honor and dignity to Washington.
Here's a little of what we did see:
Condi vs. Anonymous
Has George Stephanopoulos turned on the Texas White House?
His first guest was Condi Rice, and Steph immediately confronted her about the deterioration of what passes for security in Iraq and the possibility that NATO would train Iraqi police. Condi, as always, went to her spin bites: it's Allawi's call, NATO's there already. Sound bites, unfortunately, do little to prop up a bad situation, and Condi looked defeated, with an expression that belied that she knew these answers were utterly useless. She was similarly unconvincing (and, it appeared, unconvinced) as she tried to parry questions about Iraqi border security (claiming that great big coalition is a help) and tried to press the claim that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were in bed with each other based on a terrorist camp in Kurdish territory and outside of Saddam's control. When Steph asked why the Bush Boy won't be showing up for the handover, Condi said that "this is a moment for the Iraqis" -- never mind that if Iraq had been a success, you can bet your bottom dollar George would be there (probably in his Halloween flight suit).
Following Condi, however, was the best pundit segment of the entire weekend: Steph with "Anonymous," a CIA official who had been leading the hunt for Osama and author of the forthcoming "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror." The author's key points:
He accused the administration and many in the CIA of "moral and bureaucratic cowardice" -- but, notably, said it did not apply to former CIA director George Tenet, who had identified Osama as a key foe of the nation early on.
He was particularly critical of officials who used bureaucratic processes to avoid giving or getting information that might have helped stop the 9/11 attacks.
Never, he said, had one person in the Misadministration asked him about the problem of dealing with terrorism by Islamist militants.
The "lack of moral and bureaucratic courage" extended to a failure to act on intelligence the agency had; "you don't wait for evidence" that would be airtight in court.
Al Qaeda formally declared war on the United States back in 1996, hit American interests some 8 times before September 11th, 2001; the military was completely unprepared for an Al Qaeda attack; we should have been ready to strike at Al Qaeda on September 12th if not on the same day -- instead, we gave Al Qaeda time to disperse.
Bush's decision to go to war was "a Christmas gift" to Osama.
US policies are driving terrorists and playing into their recruitment; the choice now is between "war and endless war"; most Muslims are already against the US, but what are we doing about it?
Steph asked, "Who do we kill?" Anonymous replied that the US missed a huge opportunity to stop Al Qaeda and Osama in Afghhanistan.
"Why is the CIA letting you do this?" Anonymous said that he was surprised, but the CIA said "OK" as long as he remained anonymous -- and did not redact one word. "Your bosses want the debate?" America needs the debate.
Can we win?" If Americans know the truth, then the government can craft policies that diminish Osama. The alternative, he warned: unrolling tragedy.
The following segment was mostly a "whither Iraq?" snoozer involving former ambassador Richard Holbrooke, erudite resident foreign policy wonk Fareed Zakaria, and the ever-ignorable NY TImes Neocon apologist David Brooks. Our ears did prick up, however, when Holbrooke called the occupation a disaster, adding that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the only thing the US can point to with pride. Brooks looked shocked, and so did Zakaria. (Dick -- you're on ABC and broke the rules! You're not supposed to call Dear Leader's crusade for democratizing the heathen a disaster!) Not much later, Zakaria said that US-imposed quasi-martial-law has failed (talk about another understatement), and if martial law is declared, it will only fuel insurgency.
Finally, Holbrooke blasted Condi Rice for failing to any clear response to questions about what US policy should be.
It's about time SOMEONE said it, Dick. The fact is, the press continues to give George Bush Jr. and his inner circle credibility by refusing to do what one Irish interviewer dared to do: interrupt and demand clear, straight answers.
-- Jane Grice with JJ Balzer