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apj.us / correntewire.com
Pundit Pap
for Sunday, March 5, 2006

Claque of Hacks Attack, Papsters Fight Back!
by the Pundit Pap Crew

Gene Gaudette | Shystee | Xan | Leah | Eli & Howard Dansky

March 5, 2006 (correntewire.com / apj.us) -- It's 1pm in New York, which means that the last few of the claque of hacks (props to Tom C for that phrase) have just finished lording over the morning spin cycle for the benefit of political junkies in the cable and satellite TV audience.

So far, a few comments are creating a buzz on Web message boards and in the blogs:

  • John Murtha no doubt ruffled a few White House feathers when he told grumpy ol' Uncle Bob Schieffer that the "only people who want up in Iraq [are] Iran and Al Qaeda... and China." (You can watch the fun here.) John—don't do that to Junior—that comment's not going to make you any friends in the Old Executive Office Building or the West Wing, y'know!

  • Bill Kristol (dithering-Neocon editor of the Weekly Rupert... er, Standard, and not to be confused with semi-perennial Oscar® show host Billy Crystal) dared tell the painful truth to viewers of FOX News Sunday (or as we prefer to call it, Ailes Jazeera Live): "A certain number of Republicans and conservatives have lost confidence in the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in Congress, and they're going to stay home. As of right now, some of them will stay home in November, and as of right now, Republicans will lose the House." (Of course Kristol's "early warning" is a shot across the RNC's bow to do something—anything—to get the GOP's Pavlovian base back in line and primed to vote party line all the way.)

  • Democrats were allowed to talk about issues this Sunday, much to our surprise. Even more shocking was the fact that two of them are potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, Gen. (Ret.) Wesley Clark and former senator John Edwards, were present, accounted for, and pretty impressive. Dark-horse GOP possibility Jack Kemp, who towed the Neocon line to a limit, was the counterpoint to Edwards on NBC's Meet the Pest (that being Beltway vermin Tim Russert, biased and self-important as always).

This page will be updated as the pap pops fresh out of the metaphorical Information Super-EZ-Bake Oven, courtesy of Corrente and APJ.

 

CBS Face the Nation
Rep. John Murtha, Sen. Dick Lugar

Something we really need in this country is Media Education: how Corporate Media really works and what goes on behind the scenes. One misperception is the idea that politicians and news anchors are honestly expressing their heartfelt views. When in fact they all have carefully studied talking points, and they have been trained to appear honest so as to be more convincing. They all have agendas, motivations and they all know anything they say on the teevee can be used against them.

That said, it’s really hard to believe that Rep. John Murtha is not speaking from his heart. Either that or he’s a heckuva actor. With 37 years in the Marine Corps and over 30 years in Congress, it’s hard to believe he is motivated by ambitions of achieving higher office through corporate campaign contributions. Murtha speaks in direct plain language, cites evidence and gets fired up about things he cares about.

[Quotes are from my notes, not transcript.]

Bob “Crankypants” Schieffer: Do you believe General Pace who said this morning on Meet the Press that the War in Iraq is “going very, very well”?
Murtha: Why would I believe him? This administration has constantly misrepresented what is going on in Iraq.

Murtha said that when the Administration makes these statements he asks his staff to get latest the State Department report on Iraq and get the facts. There is 60% unemployment in Iraq, 80% of Iraqis want us out of there, 47% think it’s acceptable to shoot US soldiers.

He said that the troops are doing everything they can, but they’re caught in the middle of a civil war.

The US public is “way ahead” on this issue, 70% want to pull troops out of Iraq.

Al Qaeda and Iran and China want us to stay in Iraq, because we’re depleting our resources. We’re diverting our resources from the war on terror which is global.

The US pretends to be able to tell Iraqis and the Iraqi government what to do. But “Our man” Chalabi got 1% of the vote, Allawi got 8%.

Before the US invasion there were no terrorists in Iraq. If we get out, the Iraqis will get AQ out. They know who and where they are. The Iraqis don’t like having foreign jihadists in their country. But we’ve unified the Iraqis and the jihadists against us by our presence.

Bombshell: Schieffer mentioned rumors that the Administration plans to pull troops out of Iraq in early 2007, after the midterms. [He’s obviously been reading Corrente]

Murtha: Other Democrats tell me “you’re helping the Republicans [by talking about redeployment] because if the GOP sets a schedule to get out it will help them in the elections.”

Shystee Prediction: the Administration and the GOP will beat the Dems to the punch on announcing a plan for pulling out of Iraq.

Karl Rove sure as hell reads the polls and he knows that staying in Iraq is politically untenable. Whatever Neocon fantasies about forcibly democratizing the Middle East Republicans might entertain, maintaing one-party dominance in the US is a much higher priority, if not the only priority.

That the Beltway Dems would be chastising Murtha for taking a position on Iraq that the majority of the voters support is… mindboggling? disgusting? pathetic? enraging? It shows a contempt for the public’s opinion and lack of will or understanding about how to win elections and about what is good for US citizens.

After years of going along with the Bloody CharlieFoxtrot [military speak for ClusterF**k] that is the Iraqi occupation, the Dems might have already missed the opportunity to ride the wave of public opposition to the war. And they show no intention of getting a clue. When you start to think about why, that’s when you really get nauseous. Do Beltway Dems just not get it or do they not want to get it because they have other priorities?

Schieffer briefly brings up PortGate. Isn’t this just some irrational fear?

Murtha: “All we have to fear is fear itself”. These guys [Bushies] have used fear as a club!

No mention by either of them that the deal has already gone through.

Iran’s Nucular “ambitions”:

Murtha: Iran knows we can’t deploy ground troops against them, we’ve depleted our resources in Iraq.
Schieffer: But if we withdraw won’t that look like we’ve been defeated, won’t that boost our enemies’ morale?
Murtha: That’s the fear they try to sell to the American people. If we get out, Iraqis will take Al Qaeda out, that is what is important to us.

Dick Lugar was next. The contrast in style and substance between Murtha and this guy are like night and day. Lugar basically avoided answering any of Schieffer’s questions and stuck to his talking points:

  • Civil war in Iraq? Maybe…

  • It’s up to the Iraqis to decide if they want to be Iraqis or Sunnis, Shiites, etc… They’re going through transitional period, of course it’s going to be ugly. [The implication that it’s not really the US’ problem and we don’t have any control over the situation]

  • We have to give the Iraqi government assurances that we will stay.

Lugar: There is still hope for Iraq. Among Repugs there is general support for the president and the troops. Sure everyone reads polls. But politics is a fickle business. If things go well the polls will tick up.
S chieffer: sounds like my golf game, if I can just improve my stroke everything will be better.

Schieffer’s Final Word: Bob’s glad that the tapes of Bush being thoroughly briefed about the potential for humanitarian disaster in the wake of Katrina came out.

But didn’t we know this already? That FEMA was stacked with political hacks?

We really should just move on. “We have to stop the tape and go live.” “People want to know what happens now.”

Hurricane season is months away and there is still no plan. Can’t we just get over these squabbles about responsibility for thousands of dead or missing Americans?

Shystee

ABC This Week With George Stephanopoulos
Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Gen. (Ret.) Wesley Clark

This week’s This Week column is going to be relatively short, as Leah and I are working on a joint project to compare and contrast the appearances of a couple of Dem Golden Oldies from ‘04, Wesley Clark and John Edwards. So away we go with the main column:

First segment: Joint appearance by two congresscritters, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA 52). Apparently Sen. Collins was a “galvanized Democrat” for the day, to borrow an expression from Civil War reenacting—filling in as the Liberal guest due to a shortage of actual Democrats or something.

Alas, she played the part to perfection, coming off as a dithering, blithering idiot.

The subjects at hand were (1) the Dubai deal specifically and port security in general and (2) a brief bit at the end about the nuclear deals Bush just “negotiated” in India.

Hunter, regarded by anyone who has followed his career for awhile as a Flaming Wingnut, came off as a strong, concerned-over-the-right-things, straightforward, clear-speaking bastion of responsible government. Yeah, my head is still spinning after this performance too. You get used to the feeling after awhile.

Collins on the other hand came across as a babbling idiot who could not unravel a solid steel bar. Every subject needs “further study” unless it is in dire need of Comprehensive Congressional Investigation, and usually both, sometimes with an added dollop of Further Oversight and a cherry on top. With whipped cream. On second thought omit those toppings and substitute dryer lint, which gives a better image of how sexy and tasty her notions were.

Hunter pointed out that the Dubai deal Must Not Pass and cited as reasons the fact that they had in the past been the transshipment point for everything from switches used in nuclear technology development to a shipment of heavy water by somebody I think he called “Humpel” and described as “an ex-Nazi.” I never heard of this guy and don’t have time to Google the matter here so if anybody knows what he’s talking about, clarify the matter in comments. Please.

Collins started out strong, noting that Bush WAS NOT AWARE that the “45 day investigation”, which she correctly notes is REQUIRED BY LAW, had not been done. Also made a good point, which Hunter agreed with, that the whole FICUS (okay, I can’t remember the actual acronym, sue me, you know what I’m talking about) board that rubberstamped the deal is Way Too Heavily Weighted to Commercial Interests insofar as it is chaired and led by representatives of the Treasury Department. She wants it dissected, the remains thrown in the recycling bin, and rebuilt with an orientation towards, and leadership from, either Homeland Security or Dept. of Defense.

She confirmed that she is drawing up legislation—in conjunction with….I should make you guess…..okay, time’s up, this’ll come as a great shock, Sen. Joseph Lieberman!—to reform the board in just this manner.

Hunter then said HE has a bill in motion to go way beyond Collins’ wimpy efforts as he proposes to ban foreign ownership or operational control of any sort by ANY other nation. US ownership, US control, US security operations, under US law. Of course he had no suggestions on how he plans to pay for any of this, nor did George Steffie ask him. Oh well.

Susan said Duncan’s bill was “not practical” but then, that having been dangerously close to a declarative sentence, was obliged to add that the matter needed more study. Because the matter needed review.

Duncan said the Dubai deal Would Not Pass. Susan said—prepare to be shocked—it was Too Soon to Tell.

On the Indian nuke deal, Hunter again made a stunningly valid point. Nuclear technology, he said, depends on two things, having the right equipment AND having the correctly trained and experienced people to use that equipment. Once Indian workers have been trained on the nice shiny new GE-provided nuclear energy plants, the 14 they’re going to get subjected to international oversight, there is nothing whatever to stop them from trotting across the street to the eight plants working on weapons-capabilities, which are NOT subject to international oversight. He did not appear impressed with the proposed deal.

Susan said it Needed More Study.

Wesley Clark was the big name interview guest, and I am very sorry to say he came off, as my Esteemed Spousal Unit put it, as “more Susan Clarkish than even Susan Clark.”

The ports deal was Very Complicated, and doesn’t depend on ownership but procedures, and security needs control, and we Can’t Wall Off America, it’s a Global Economy. Regulation not ownership is the important issue.

And that was a towering monument to decisiveness and clarity compared to his babblings on Iraq. You want to see his statements on that, go look up the transcript. Prepare yourself beforehand, a couple of lines of Bolivian Marching Powder may be sufficient but a hit of crystal meth would probably work better. ZZZZzzzz……

I should add it gives me no pleasure to write the above. Clark has been making some good speeches lately and I really thought he was shaping up into a good candidate for ‘08. I was even preparing to support such an effort, if only to give the Babbling Classes something to yammer about besides HillaryHillaryHillary 24/7. Alas. No longer.

The Round Table had a good lineup insofar as it contained neither Sam Donaldson nor Cokie Roberts, and did contain Robert Reich, Clinton’s labor secretary and a guy I adore. Unfortunately, they also added a doofus named Bill Sammon of the Washington Times (I never heard of him) who has a book out. I missed the name of and would be disinclined to promote anyway based on some of Mr. Sammon's comments.

Stephanopoulos led off with an interesting setup: a clip from Bush’s last State of the Union about the Evils of Protectionism, securing the peace and America’s destiny, blah blah blah. Then Steph asked George Will if this promotion of internationalism was what was dragging Bush down in the polls (which were displayed in their lovely and unanimous under mid-30’s glory.)

The question being based on an absurd premise, Mr. Will of course agreed with it at once. A few historical analogies, a comment to Reich that “your old boss Bill Clinton” [a phrase that was also used several times, I believe by Duncan Hunter, on Stephanopoulos himself!] was at his best when promoting NAFTA against the wishes of his otherwise evil and protectionist Democrat party.

Reich pointed out that stagnant if not declining wages for the last five years and the complete destruction of any form of job security probably had something to do with Bush’s declining poll numbers too, so what a surprise to see the matter blamed on foreigners.

Reich also pointed out the complete political bumbling on Bush’s part (everyone nodded sagely), then forged on to add that this was just the tip of the iceberg, and pretty soon it would soak in to the public’s mind that 80% of military contracts were going to foreigners too.

[This struck me as a bombshell as I had never heard anything like this, but it was not pursued.]

George will says that “all demographics are opposed” to the Dubai deal, therefore it will not go through. (Nobody brought up the subject of across-the-board opposition to a war in Iraq so maybe that never happened.) It was rather startling to have all three members of the panel Nod Sagely in agreement with the bald statement that nobody either believes or trusts George Bush anymore, like it was something everybody had always known. Hey, we’re mainstream now!

There was some more blather about how “liberals are trying to rehabilitate Michael Brown” (that was that Bill Sammon guy I mentioned; he was also the one who said that “Democrats are trying to have it both ways” on some topic or other, and that “Bush’s low poll numbers are just typical of a president at this point in a second term.” Now you see why I am disinclined to help him flog his book.)

George Will got in the best if not last word, as he often does (the guy is wrong about ever so much, and has not a moral to his name, and is a disgrace to the good name of Cub fans everywhere as well as natives of the Champaign/Danville region of Illinois, but dammit he can write): after they ran the tape of Bush at Crawford being briefed before Katrina, Will just shook his head and said, “No question about it, he deserves his nickname of “Incurious George.’”

That’s it for This Week this week, see you next week, same time same station unless there’s a major sporting event or something else to screw up the schedule.

Xan

 

by Xan and Leah

The Sunday Meeting of Corrente PA
in which Xan and Leah Meet the Press

Hi everybody, welcome to this meeting of Politics Anonymous, where we acknowledge our difficulty overcoming our addictions and seek to deal with them as best we can. I’m Xan, this is Leah, and we’re political addicts.

(Crowd response: “HI XAN AND LEAH!”)

Today we’re going to look at two Democrats who have run for President before, and may very well do so again. We know that it is in moments like this, when the words “presidential race!” begin to be dropped like gentle drops of spring rain, that our control issues flare up, along with our attention spans, our blood pressures, our heart rates, and our will to live again. These are very dangerous moments for recovering addicts like ourselves.

Crowd response: “NO SHIT SHERLOCK! NOW GET ON WITH IT, WOULDJA PLEASE?”

Okay, here’s the dope. Leah will give her report first, on various babblers and then the important part—John Edwards: Fit, Tanned, and Ready to Run? Or Flaky, Flabby and Fixed by the DNC? :

MEET THE PRESS March 5, 2006

Iraq was the major issue for the Russert-fils interrogation this morning, and his single guest in the first half hour was General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who better, to give us a true picture of what is going on in the streets, alleys, and broad desert vistas of Iraq?

I don’t have the heart to include much snark in discussing Iraq - too tragic, too infuriating, the mainstream discussion about it, except for some exceptional reporting here and there by mainstream outlets, too pointless, too unable to grasp the central contradictions of our policies there. And this mornings MTP was a fine example of the genre.

Russert took a tough tone with General Pace, peppering him with questions like - Is this a civil war? - Do you have confidence in Jaafari? - What about those militias? - What about death squads sponsored by the current Interior ministry. Weren’t most of the pre-war assumptions wrong? - Can an insurgency this “robust” be only the work of foreign jihadis; doesn’t it suggest deep support on the ground from Iraqis themselves?

To all of this General Pace presented the administration’s badly smudged but still reigning rosy scenario of Iraq’s future: No, not a civil war; in fact, having been catapulted to the brink of that particular abyss by the destruction of that most sacred of Shia mosques, the Iraqi people and their leaders stood down; Iraqis don’t want a civil war - only. the terrorists want that. Yes, progress is being made, more Iraqi troops ready this year than last: Yes, the American people are getting tired, but the real problem is the lack of comprehensive coverage of all that is going on in Iraq. Iraqis are hopeful. Expectant. And don’t forget those three, count ‘em, three, remember, three elections; now there will be a parliament, and an elected government.

To Russert’s direct question: Is the insurgency in its last throes? General Pace didn’t take the bait, shifting the focus, instead, to where the Iraqi people are in relation to the insurgency and their own future - and where they are is here - waiting to see what this new government of theirs is going to do, or be able to do, I think the General was suggesting. Not that I am fun of him, there were bits and pieces of truth through-out what Pace had to say. The American military is caught in the same terrible dilemma the rest of us are when it comes to figuring out, at this late date, a decent, intelligent set of policies in Iraq, and where the military policies have faltered, as in Abu Graib, or Fallujah, to name but a few instances, you can trace the failure right back to the Bush & co; as the President is so fond of reminding us, he is the Commander & Chief.

CROWD RESPONSE: BULLLLLL-SHIT!

What was missing from MTP this morning, was any sense that Tim and Peter were engaged in an actual conversation. Instead, they moved from question to assertion to anther question and another assertion. I’m so tired of invoking Kabuki as a metaphor for this kind of deadly journalism, so if any readers can suggest another one, please do. In any case the comparison is unfair, to Kabuki, and all other of the great ancient theater traditions, like India’s Kathakali, which depend on fixed performance tropes and a coded retelling of classic stories that are without suspense or surprise because so often repeated and so well known; the great achievement of these heavily encrusted performances is to breathe life into these ancient stories so that they are once again born to the moment.

No such liveliness could be discerned happening on NBC this morning. Not in that first half hour. Here’s an example, perhaps, of why not.

The most astonishing moment in the interview came when General Pace explained that his perception of the thinness of support for the insurgency, even among Sunni Iraqis, was based on an awareness not only that fear of reprisal keeps many Iraqis from standing up against the insurgents, but that many of them take money from that same source, because they need to support their families. What came next had me wondering if NBC had decided to replay an old MTP from 2003; here was General Pace explaining that many of the problems in Iraq are economic ones, and that with the right kind of aid to increase security and develop an infrastructure and to create jobs, Iraqis can be pulled away from an insurgency that most of them have come to hate.

Not only did Big Russ’s little boy, Tim, fail to remind the good General that we’ve been hearing this kind of analysis from the administration and the military since the summer of 2003, he neither reminded the General that billions of dollars had been appropriated to accomplish precisely those goals, nor asked the General just where he thought the funds to accomplish those goals would be coming from, now that the Bush administration has decided not to ask for more money for Iraq’s reconstruction. Another “nor did he” - Russert exhibited not an iota of an iota of interest in where the money for Iraqi construction had gone, or to whom.

Final deathly irony - Russert asked the General about the Knight-Ridder report, of this week, that multiple warnings were given to the administration in 2003 that the insurgency had local roots and could be expected to intensify, and to lead to a civil war, if the root causes of it were not addressed. General Pace seemed to say that he rejected that interpretation of the data, but one of the reasons his answer made so little sense was that Russert had misstated what the article reported, which was that “the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.”

And you knew, didn’t you, that little Russ was going to bring up William Buckley’s recent treatise on Iraq. If only, opined General Pace, Buckley could walk the streets of Bagdad? Tim did ask if that was presently possible, and was told, with some sheepishness, that yes, with the right kind of escorts. But you also knew, didn’t you, that little Russ never wondered why General Pace was making arguments about what needed to be done in Iraq that had been made to the administration in October of 2003, and never mind the multiple Democrats who had made those same arguments about what needed to be done in Iraq to have a chance in hell of avoiding the awful place we, and the Iraqi people, find ourselves in today.

CROWD RESPONSE: ZZZZZZZZzzzzzz……umph, huh? Is this shit over yet? Hey you there in the corner, here’s a Jackson, run out for some beer, okay?

The second half hour was much livelier, and for one reason only, the presence of ex-Vice-Presidential candidate and Senator, John Edwards.

He was paired with Jack Kemp, ostensibly, because they were co-members of a panel who put together a recent report for the Council on Foreign Relations about what should be the approach of this country to the increasing anti-democratic practices of the Putin regime in Russia, but also because Jack Kemp, as we all know is the designated Republican soul-searcher on matters of economic inequality and race. And irony of irony of ironies, what did Jack Kemp do, given relatively free reign to comment on our problems in Iraq, he made two points - the failure to include an economic component in the War on Terror, which meant that there was little reward for those Iraqis, for instance, who sided with us, and our failure to signal to the Iraqi people that we don’t intend to stay there forever, and that we don’t intend to leave any military bases behind.

Hmm, wasn’t that pretty much what John Kerry ran on as an Iraq policy? The moment of total amnesia was complete, with neither Kemp or Russert seeming to have any memory of the 2004 election. I couldn’t wait for John Edwards to ride in on his white horse and remind America that humans are gifted with the ability to remember.

That didn’t quite happen, no reflection of Edwards, mind you. Whereas Kemp had been treated as a member of a private club by Tim, John Edwards’ first question was one meant to limit his response - you know, the one about his change of heart about his vote on Iraq, the one he disavowed as wrong, even though as of 2003 he was still insisting that he stood by his vote. John Edwards was ready with the best defense anyone can muster who wants to lead other human beings - being truthful. Yes, he was wrong, that’s what his statement said. Yes, he accepted intelligence reports which turned out to be inaccurate. Yes, in 2003 he still thought his vote was defensible, even as he had criticism of the administration’s occupation policies, or the lack thereof.

I’m not sure what Russert was looking for in the way of an answer, but he asked at least two questions too many on this subject, but that didn’t stop Edwards. Each question was treated as an opportunity to make his own point - the last of which, was that anyone who aspired to moral leadership has to be ready not only to admit error, but to be precise about it. The complete ease with which Edwards’ repeated, ‘yes, I was wrong’ struck me as precisely the kind of spontaneous confidence that the American people are more than ready for.

Edward’s didn’t wait for Russert to allow him to make his points either; yes, I was wrong, but where do we go from here allowed him to remind one and all that Edward’s had run for Vice-President on a plan for Iraq that included most of what Jack Kemp had just recommended. Making clear that he wasn’t offering a pie in the sky scenario, Edwards’ stated clearly the Iraq was slipping away, into chaos, in part because America’s footprint in the occupation was far too large. Most of what he had to say was a reiteration of the Kerry proposals - which probably deserves a separate post to analyze their practicalities - but my impression of the way Edwards’ handled a moment in which he was intended to seem weak and forlorn, left veiwers with exactly the opposite impression.

On Dubai, Edwards was particular impressive. He was having none of Kemp’s easy acceptance that we couldn’t run our own ports, and that the current dustup is going to look like Arab-bashing. Better still, he turned the moment into a treatise on all we’ve failed to do to secure our ports, and in such a way that one was left with the impression that such security was perfectly doable, and the failure to achieve such security could only be considered a failure of will - and all of that by implication.

The same was true of the way Edwards handled the issue of Katrina.

I’ll leave it here, since I know Xan got to see this part of Meet The Press. My final thought: Mr. Russert, meet Mr. Edwards, one fine Democrat who’s got your number, and knows what to do with it.

XAN: And let’s have a nice round of applause for Leah, along with a big bottle of Pepto and a free refill on the Valium for having coped with the Pace putridity to get to the Edwards euphoria.

CROWD RESPONSE: SUSTAINED APPLAUSE, WHOOPING, CHEERING, AND VARIOUS REMARKS OF AN INDECENT BUT APPRECIATIVE NATURE

Xan: Well, all I can do to follow that, particularly now that the beer has arrived and we have serious Recovery type work to do, is to tell you that Wesley Clark was an absolute godawful flop on “ThisWeek” with George Stephawhatever today. He ducked, he dodged, he equivocated, he dithered, he thought everything needed “more study” and “further investigation,” he clearly couldn’t unravel a straight piece of string. He punted on the Ports issue, he was absolutely incoherent on Iraq, feh. What a chuzzelputz.

His only half-decent moment was at the end when he was, alas as usual, dodging on the “are you running in ‘08” question. He said, firmly and repeatedly, that such questions were for the future but that NOW his job was to help the Fighting Democrats, and all Democratic candidates everywhere, to win so as to restore Two Party Government to America. He managed to get in references to the Republican Abramoff scandal, to the Republican NSA wiretap scandal, to the Republican misuse of Intelligence scandal, and the Republican failure to ever issue the second 9-11 Report, said issuance having been a promise to end the Harry Reid shutdown of the Senate a couple months back. I thought everybody had forgotten that.

So okay! Somebody hand me a beer, it’s open meeting time. Let’s get to work.

Xan and Leah

 

The Chris Matthews Show
..in soft focus

Watched Chris Matthews Show in soft focus today, trying to see what we could between the lines. Some interesting images emerged from the folderol among our host and guests Katty Kay, Joe Klein, Andrea Mitchell, and David Brooks.

The topics of the day were: the Iraq war - civil war, U.S. troop withdrawal, political effects on mid-term electoral politics; CM accusing Clinton of doing a flip-flop - on McDonalds; the Oscars; the usual panelist potpourri round-up; and the illuminating historical perspective moment, this time it was Winston Churchill and his post-modern counterparts - that'd be James Baker III, Bush I, and Brent Scowcroft, of course.

The first image that stood out from the perfunctory opinionating was that Chris is worried that Bush's stay-the-course course is leading his (i.e., Bush's) party to a massive cliff-dive in November. CM asked about it, then came back to it. All concurred that Bush will not veer from the course for the sake of palliating people's disapproval of his handling of the Iraq war - nor presumably for the sake of palliating our disapproval of his lying to get into the war, our disapproval of his disregard for melting glaciers, for billions bestowed on Halliburton and on drug and oil companies...

En tout cas, all agreed that the Republican incumbents who face mid-term challenges will "jump ship" and advocate for troop drawdowns to separate themselves from the guy with the lowest numbers since pappy's.

Another image, fleeting but still noteworthy, was the unveiling of the right's latest rationale for keeping troops in country despite their ineffectuality - pointed out by the host, no less - in preventing or even much moderating a civil war. Brooks, who can be counted on to share with us the administration's newly surfacing talking points, to no one's surprise did not say, "We need U.S. troops to stay so as to control the oil flow and justify channeling billions to Halliburton." Nope, he said they must stay because otherwise the neighboring countries will come into Iraq.

So now our soldiers have to keep dying to stave off incursions by Iran and Turkey. In other words, it's not just a matter of protecting Iraqis from each other. Now that we've destroyed its self-defense capabilities, we're responsible for Iraq's national security. Bush here reminds me of the story about the lad convicted of doing away with his parents who throws himself on the mercy of the court on account of his being an orphan.

And in one of CM's many pundit polls, 12 of 12 said "Yes" to the question, "Will U.S. troops continue their presence in Iraq after Bush leaves office [in 2009]?" Sober yet?

Apropos of God-knows-what, Matthews injected a ridiculous gratuitous dig on Clinton by showing a few clips that he interpreted as showing that Bubba was turning on his erstwhile-beloved McDonalds. In his taped heart-healthy occasional remarks Clinton acknowledged his affinity for the Mick, and he simply advocated for cooking the fries in veggie oil rather than trans-fatty animal fat.

So that was Clinton "turning on" McDonalds. Huh? The soft focus reveals that Chris was trying to make it appear that despite what you may think he wasn't being an asshole last week when he responded to Bush's LYING about the state of his knowledge of Katrina-related threats by nonsequiturially throwing back at Hardball interviewee (Kerry campaign consultant) Bob Shrum that his candidate had flip-flopped too. So now it's not lying when Bush utters falsehoods - it's flip-flopping! And we all know that Kerry - and really all Democrats, burger-lovin' Bubba as well as Kerry - are just as flip-floppy as Bush. So let's lighten up on likable George, huh.

The "tell-me-something-I-don't-know" round-up produced less scripted panel pap. Kay said that all U.S. corporations other than the oil companies and Halliburton were expressing regret for their involvement in Iraq. Andrea said that the UN has to override U.S. resistance and intervene in Darfur. And Brooks - is he more of a weasel or a rabbit, I can't decide - embraced Mitt Romney as a solid prospect for '08, noting that the lunch Romney had treated him to was quite good [not kidding, he said so].

The historical retro moment went back to Churchill's Iron Curtain speech in 1946 - this was mostly significant apparently because Chris was invited to speak somewhere to mark the 60th anniversary thereof. CM said that Chuchill's warnings about Russia proved prescient, and he likened that to the prescience of none other than those sage post-modern prophets James A. Baker III, Bush I, and Brent Scowcroft, all of whom warned of civil war in the event of adventurism against Iraq. I.e., Chris implied that W screwed up by going into Iraq and ignoring their warnings of civil war! Of course, the flip side is that in doing so he analogized the givers of the warnings with Winston Churchill. But still, Bush II screwed up!? Chris?

The soft focus sees a pattern behind the words, and it links to the host's concern with the mid-term turnover threat. Since his main concern during the show was that Bush was creating the conditions for a Dem takeover of Congress, this historical coda was perhaps his way of modeling for the at-risk Congressional Pubs how they could separate from Bush while reinforcing their deeper Publickin' ties (via homage to Baker, GHWB, Scowcroft...).

Our psycho-insight: Chris struggles to withdraw obeisance from his oh-so-authoritative and gosh-darn-it likable fearless leader. It's like seeing your favorite clergyman defrocked. So he appeals to yet-higher authority for absolution to assuage his flip-flopping conscience. If only he could explain to us why he waited until now to tout the warnings of the three wise Publican eminence grises.

- Eli and Howard Dansky

Universally acclaimed as boldly shrill members of the reality-based community, the Bloggers of Corrente can be reached off the record, on the Q.T., and very hush hush at their highly fortified headquarters, The Mighty Corrente Building.

Gene Gaudette is a music and video producer, managing partner of a production company, and publisher/ringmaster/chief bottle washer of AmericanPolitics Journal.

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