Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place!
Dec. 11, 2005 Washington (apj.us) Does anyone get the feeling that the press is depressed at the prospect of disengagement from Iraq? They seem horrified that a Democratic hawk like John Murtha dares suggest that it's time to exit stage right and let the Iraqis settle their differences among themselves. Horrors! No more ratings-generating war coverage! No more "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" embedded journalists! And watch those big ad buys from military contractors dry up!
There was little talk of the latest volley from the 9-11 Commission, who gave Bush Jr.'s clown college a litany of Ds and Fs in their latest counterterrorism report card (outside of The McLaughlin Group, who made it their "Issue One," with John McLaughlin pretty much saying that Bush and friends ignored the initial recommendations of the 9-11 Commission).
The big fat talking point of the week reeks of White House stink: Democrats are divided over what to do about Iraq.
Here's a taste of what you missed if you had the good sense to leave the TV off this morning:
ABC "This Weak"With George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos and the news manipulators at ABC made the most of differences among congressional Democrats as to how the situation in Iraq should be resolved. Naturally, they depicted Democrats as in chaos and Republicans as the together, grown-up, assured, united party with a plan! (Of course, George W. Bush has no real plan to get out of Iraq, but wants America to think so by repeating the same talking points over and over and over using our soldiers as props in what is nothing more than a political campaign for his so-called "Plan for Victory").
To our surprise, however, Stephanopoulos broke with the media orthodoxy when he confronted Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, over the upcoming elections, suggesting that they would actually make the situation worse in Iraq rather than better. Ambassador Khalilzad had to admit that there is in fact polarization along sectarian lines Iraq. He tried to make the most of participation by Iraqi cities, but even he sounded a little bit skeptical as he said it. Both Stephanopoulos and Khalilzad suggested skepticism over both the Constitution and the effectiveness of the upcoming elections, as well as whether or not Iraqi minorities could be represented fairly, let alone shown a minimum modicum of respect.
The interview with Khalilzad was blessedly short, and Stephanopoulos then welcomed Senator Joseph Biden. Biden anticipates a wide turnout in the Iraqi elections, but is worried about whether or not the Iraqi constitution is going to be seen as a "document of division or document of unity. " Biden also anticipates that Sunnis will not be given sufficient power under the new constitutional arrangement (which, of course, means a stronger likelihood of total civil war in Iraq). Biden also told Stephanopoulos that he had been pushing for big changes in the Iraqi Constitution, and came very close to praising Khalilzad for managing to convince Iraqis to vote on the Constitution and change it later in an effort to give Sunnis better representation.
Biden then blasted Bush for sending too few resources to Iraq in the first place and making too few good decision since U.S. forces went into Iraq. "A lot of the Democrats who have no faith in the president's ability to adapt and to change think it's game over." Biden also blasted the administration for not giving Ambassador Khalilzad permission to speak to Iranian officials.
Next, George Stephanopoulos gave the Republican National Committee free advertising time by running their idiotic "White Flag" Web commercial. Stephanopoulos then tried to divide Joe Biden and Howard Dean by saying that Biden and Dean had differences over Iraq policy. (What a shock Democrats debating policy concepts in public! My goodness you could be kicked out of the GOP for doing such a thing!) Biden, for once, seemed nonplused. He did remind Stephanopoulos that George W. Bush had once said we can't win the war on terror; if, he said, you look at what Howard Dean was saying, Dean was talking about redeploying forces. "Everybody knows the president's plan is to draw down forces because he has no choice." Biden said the volunteer army is broken, and that "Many of us are put at a disadvantage being faced with Hobson's choices, the administration's very bad decisions." Biden's main point was that the real choices for Iraq are between staying with no plan and getting out with no plan.
Stephanopoulos then turned to the "stealth" political story of the week: the DNC's plan to shake up the caucus/primary calendar. Democrats intend to put two additional caucuses (that would elect convention delegates who would in turn determine presidential nominees) between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Biden wouldn't bite, because he is, after all, a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Stephanopoulos also asked Biden about a proposed statute that would outlaw flag burning; Biden said that he did not feel that way to deal with the issue of flag-burning was through a constitutional amendment, but is open to a statute to limit desecration of the flag. (Of course, such a statute would be shot down by the courts as a clear violation of First Amendment free-speech rights. )
Stephanopoulos spent the next segment of this week scaring viewers with the possibility of a bird flu
And isn't it interesting that Stephanopoulos didn't broach the issue of the over 40 million Americans who have no insurance coverage and therefore no access to health care outside of charity. There you have it: our independent watchdog press in action (NOT).
CBS "Phase the Nation"
Bob Schieffer welcomed Congressman John Murtha, and said that the world was "surprised" by the intense reaction to his call to pull troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. (That, of course, is nonsense anyone in power who speaks out against the Bush Regime is sure to be met with something that can only politely be called an "Intense reaction. ")
Murtha, for his part, blasted critics who were calling him a coward, and made it clear that most of the people in this country are way ahead of the administration and want our troops to come home Iraq: "Every place I go, people tell me" they want our troops out.
There was a brief back-and-forth about Murtha's idea to pull the troops outside of Iraq to the borders so they could be ready if there is any trouble; Murtha said he has come to the conclusion that Iraqis see us as the enemy, and most of them want us out of Iraq. Iraqis, he said, have to settle their differences themselves; however, should, for example, a terrorist camp crop up in Iraq, we have to be prepared to eliminate that threat.
Murtha also argued that the removal of our troops Iraq will lower the possibility of a terrorist attack against the United States and its interests; a very small percentage of the current insurgents in Iraq are Al Qaeda. Schieffer then parroted a favorite GOP talking point: if we leave, Al Qaeda wins in Iraq. Murtha again reiterated that only a tiny percentage of the insurgents in Iraq are Al Qaeda and that by redeploying to the area around Iraq, we're in a better position to deal with terrorist groups and to be a catalyst for peace in the region.
You could cut through the undercurrent of anger and outrage in Murtha's voice with a knife as he said , "We spent $277 billion at this point." Murtha also mentioned David McCullough's book "1776", pointing out that France did not stay around after the colonists had won the Revolutionary war. "This can only be settled by the Iraqis. "
Schieffer mentioned Murtha's argument that Iraqi benchmarks are not being met and that the level of violence is very high. Murtha reiterated that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing, but the benchmark of violence has not been met. Interestingly, Murtha also said that the people in Pakistan who were affected by the earthquake are being treated better than people who lived in New Orleans.
Schieffer asked how many people have signed on to Martha's plan that; Murtha said about 72. Schieffer, almost as if on cue, said that Murtha's plan has "split the Democrats. " (We're hearing a " Lott " of that [pardon the pun] lately from the media: differences over how to get out of Iraq have "split the Democrats." The media loves to characterize Democrats as divided or in disarray, usually in a mocking or condescending manner. So therefore, the mere notion of debating the right way to get out of Iraq is something that must be mocked. Sounds like something straight out of the Karl Rove playbook, doesn't it?)
Next up was one of the biggest imbeciles in elected office, Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions started the interview with an outright lie, saying that Murtha's proposal is at odds with what generals are telling the government. Sessions did the requisite "this new Iraqi constitution is a good, good thing!" song and dance.
Sessions, who has somehow developed ESP ability and can read the minds of Iraqis, claimed that the Iraqis want us to stay! Kreskin, eat your heart out!
Sessions actually made a semi-rational point, when he said that Iraqis "have to step up" to the task of developing a credible defense force, and admitted that Iraqi police are taking heavy casualties. To our surprise some, Sessions praised Murtha for least bringing forward a proposal even though he disagreed with that before sessions went on a Howard Dean bashing tirade. Next , Sessions said that we should in fact draw down troops in Iraq as soon as possible.
Sessions also asserted that President Bush was reelected (Hey Jeff looked at any of the news out of Ohio lately?).
"Security does seem to be increasing from the Iraqi point of view... they seem to be more optimistic than the media says. " (Based on exactly what source, Jeff?)
Sessions did his best to depict a sudden withdrawal from Iraq as an indication that members of Congress was somehow "losing their nerve" before Bob Schieffer forced Sessions to admit that military recruitment in the U.S. is down the toilet. We laughed out loud as Sessions said something to the effect of recruitment not so much being abysmally down as "not where we want it to be." Sessions prattled on for a full half minute about how awful the recruitment situation is! (Well gee, Jeff, why the think it's so awful? Could it be because we have a president who sends troops into battle without all long term plan?)
Sessions gushed about the prospect of a permanent government in Iraq being elected next week. (Yeah, right if the entire country doesn't descend into civil war over the next few years. )
Finally , Sessions had plenty of praise for fake Democrat Joe Lieberman. (You're hearing so much praise for Lieberman from Republicans for in last week that you almost get the feeling that they're trying to recruit him into their political cult. )
NBC "Eat the Press" Starring Tim Russert
Tim Russert started off with none other than Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. Russert as if he had to ask wonders what exactly it is she is so critical about concerning Bush's war in Iraq. She came back formidably and said that basically nothing is happening in Iraq by way of winning, rebuilding, or anything much else more than posturing. She said she disagrees with Senator Joe "Sellout" Lieberman, a gung-ho partner with the White House warmongers at this time.
Senator Lindsey "Crybaby" Graham (the politician who wept as he lied during the Clinton lynch-peachment and still blubbers at rumors he is gay) was asked about what will happen with the trumped-up Iraqi elections on Thursday. Graham, who didn't listen to the question, instead countered Albright by claiming that things are going just swell in Iraq, "just like Senator Lieberman says."
It's frightening to see people like Graham, Lieberman, and even Hillary Clinton lining up behind our mendacious President. Naturally, everyone especially Russert "forgot" to bring up the fact that Bush and Cheney lied us into this war in the first place.
Graham said he thinks that the trial of Saddam Hussein is a good thing. We think this trial is hilarious and predict that unless the idiot who runs public relations for the White House does not get this trial on television, Americans will be wearing "Free Saddam" t-shirts within weeks adopting him as an evil folk hero as we have done so often in humor in the past.
Russert reminded Albright that she wrote, in her latest book, that we should stay in Iraq. He asked, "Which is it stay or leave?" Albright said that the Iraqi forces are not being built up in order for us to be able to leave as she suggested now it's difficult for us to leave, she notes. "I understood that Saddam Hussein was a terrible man," but we never had a plan to go to war, or to leave when it was the proper time. We must, she continued, have an outline of what has to be accomplished from the President to allow us to leave.
Keep in mind that Graham himself attacked the White House, too saying his own state was questioning this war. His people are wondering why the Iraq mess is taking so long. He dared say that the Administration has underestimated everything the cost of rebuilding, never had enough troops and that we assumed the best and never planned for the worst. Things are changing now, he continued and the worst thing we could do is leave Iraq now because there could be a regional war if we did so.
Russert then showed the new, cheap-looking RNC Web "commercial" (the release of which was timed to guarantee that GOP toadies at the DC bureaus of TV news outlets would run the tawdry little spot on their Sunday talk shows) attacking Rep. John Murtha and anyone in opposition to the White House including a white flag of surrender and attacks on Howard Dean.
Graham said there is no political consensus in this country involving Iraq. And Graham is right but now that 60% or more Americans want us out we should get out, as soon as possible. And keep this in mind: despite what Mr. Bush tells us, we Americans don't care about Iraqis we care about our children and grandchildren in that Godforsaken desert who are dying for what? A bunch of hooded clowns who think they are living in the 15th Century?
Lindsey and Albright begin a love fest on the show, but Graham says he does not want people calling Bush and Cheney liars. Huh? Hey, Lindsey, why the heck not? They are! They have been proven to be liars time and again. And just because other allied nations lied along with us (most notably England), these lies cannot be excused and the President and Vice President should be immediately impeached for the murder not only of our children but Iraqi children, atrocities that even our founding entrepreneurial slaveholders would call high crimes and misdemeanors.
Russert pushed Albright to say she would have fought against the war had she known there were no weapons of mass destruction. She reminded Russert that the only connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda has occurred since we invaded not before.
Russert wanted to know whether Lindsey Graham still thinks Saddam supported the men who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington. Lindsey to his credit said he was wrong to think Saddam was an imminent threat he admitted he was fooled by Condi's "aluminum tubes" and yes, Lindsey, Mr. Cheney planned and knowingly pulled the wool over your (and every member of Congress') eyes.
Talk turn to torturing prisoners. Even as a liberal writer I can tell you that personally I don't give a rat's ass how much and with which techniques we torture Islamic terrorists or anyone planning to kill our soldiers or our families here in the United States. However, I also realize that laws must be passed to at least assume the face of justice along the lines of the Geneva Conventions. Despite the Geneva Accords, nations have been torturing each other's prisoners and will continue to do so. That's just life. Deal with it. Suck it up. And stop worrying about our soldiers being tortured in acts that our enemies will justify by our actions, because y'know what? they will be tortured anyway!
Russert showed a new poll still bad for the White House, but slightly better than others I've seen lately. Professional Bush apologist David Brooks of the New York Times, who has been running around talk shows all week talking about how professional the White House is behind closed doors (but that it continued to lie to the people), claimed that Bush's last few speeches have been "more truthful." Mike Allen of TIME was on the panel today; he said the White House plans to fix entitlement programs in 2007-08, but challenged the initiative, saying, "How can they do that" when they have not been able to do anything on the social front for five years? Allen said that the President's friends thought he was going to be another Lincoln or Roosevelt! What a laugh! Gee, they must be disappointed. I can't think of anything more hilarious. One thing's for sure these so-called "friends" are at least as stupid as George Bush himself.
Brooks said that Bush has ruled out being a mediocre president and that he will either be a great president or a terrible failure.
Gee, I vote for number two as the likely outcome.
Russert put Brooks on the spot and asked whether the President realizes that he put out so much false information (which I and most thinking people call "lies") all this time. Brooks, almost proudly, said that they have wised up in the White House and now will no longer present the POTUS as a cartoon character.
The fact is, that will be tough to do.
EJ Dionne of The Washington Post was also on this panel, but added nothing to the group discussion and that is difficult to do inasmuch as the other three offered nothing as well. Allen did use the word "bifurcation" to awe the viewing audience.
Russert then turned to the public reputation of Congress. "What is goin' on with the 2006 elections?" he asked. The pundits point out the obvious: that the Republican members of Congress are in fact divided and this became more obvious when almost-convicted felon House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "left" his leadership post after being indicted this fall.
Surprisingly, Brooks said he thinks it would be good if the Democrats win in 2006 good for Bush and good for the country because they would then also have responsibility for the nation's direction.
Russert then turned to the near total destruction of the city of New Orleans which has largely escaped attention this past week in the press. Most notably, the New York Times had a feature this morning about the "The Death" of New Orleans.
"Mike Allen, what must be done?" whines Russert. Allen said that New Orleans has fallen so far off the White House radar screen that one can't even find it according to Bush insiders. Dionne said that this was the "shortest war on poverty ever." In short, the two agree that New Orleans is in bad shape and that everything Bush said about restoring the City was yet another group of lies.
Brooks said the core problem is that the people of New Orleans want their city back as it was. That's impossible, according to Brooks. So we cannot "innovate," he moans. There has to be a plan and the plan must be initiated. Russert adds this wisdom: the levees must be rebuilt or it may all happen again!
Oh, My, God!
Russert finished off the show with another Meet the Press self-serving clip this one of Eugene McCarthy's appearance on the show nearly three decades ago. Many of us boomers liberals all cut our political teeth on his campaign during his run for the White House in 1968. McCarthy passed away yesterday at 89, and we will miss him.