Chatology: America for Americans!
Sorry for the hiatus, folks. But between the dodgy servers and pictures of Katherine Harris's breasts did you even notice? If I had to sum up yesterday's chatfest with one word, it would be this: amneleaksty. Immigration and Fitzgerald investigation dominated -- which makes sense when you realize that Fitzgerald's grandparents were probably immigrants.
• Immigration bill: "bureaucracy of rubber stamps" or "lack[ing] compassion"?
• Leak investigation: Specter says the President needs to come clean, Kerry says "This was not a declassification to educate America, this was a declassification to mislead America."
• Nuking Iran. Scary!
Quotes to live by:
• Stephanopoulos wonders "how do you solve this Rubik's cube" of the budget?
• Dionne asks "What did the president forget and when did he forget it?"
• George Will gets legalistic: The President "was trying to discredit, punish, or seek revenge against a critic... where in the federal statues does it say that is forbidden?"
• And in case you're wondering why he lost: Russert introduces Kerry thusly as the man who won "48.3 percent" of the popular vote.
Kerry: "I thought it was 49.2"
Tim: "48.3 -- But who's counting?"
After the jump: The most optimistic man in America, the calm and cool Joe Wilson (really), and a testy Schieffer.
Fox News Sunday
Brit Hume in for Chris Wallace and the tone is suitably belligerent. Apparently there are different -- "and contradictory" -- reports on our plans or lack thereof to invade Iran.
Arlen Specter live from Columbia -- he has a little tiny earset mic like Madonna. A pasty, male Madonna. Says the immigration compromise fell apart because of the Democrats and because of the Senate's "difficult and arcane rules." Also: Democrats hate national security. And freedom.
Huh-huh: He said "whip check."
Did what the President do with the NIE constitute a "leak"? "I don't know, but I think the President and the Vice President need to tell the American people what happened... he owes a specific explanation to the American people." While the "President may be entirely in the clear," he leaves open the possibility that he isn't. Brit Hume manages to contain himself.
Rep. Pete King -- angry high school wrestling coach with mobster hair -- gets on to shine the bright light of truth on the immigration issue. Truth being powered by his electric green tie.
Oh, excellent: Hume pulls up the Webster definition of "amnesty." I wondered when we'd get to that. King insists the compromise would be "amnesty," Brit says the bill doesn't sound like a "pardon" to him. King hits all the talking points, noting that the idea that the supposed checks on immigration would turn into a "bureaucracy of rubber stamps" and that Congress is "scared of people waving flags on the streets." Brit asks what the alternatives are to a guest worker program: Is there anything else that is "practicable"? (That dictionary sure comes in handy!)
Zalmay Khalilzad responds to the U.S. study that evaluated the situation in Iraq as "somber." "The goal was finding what we need to focus on in different provinces." Brit wonders why "an average American" shouldn't believe that things are deteriorating? Khalilzad says, "Well, if they were looking a year ago, they would see that things were not as good as they are now." Huh.
On formation of government: "Iraqis as losing their patience, as well as the international community." Uhm, yeah. A real rhetorical risk-taker, Mr. Khalilzad.
On the visit of Jack Straw and Condi Rice: "The people in those countries are losing patience... the vacuum that exists now is dangerous and encourages terrorists... and I think that was useful for Iraqi leaders to hear."
Panel: Charles Krauthammer, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.
NIE right up there and, shockingly, Brit Hume wonders if the word "leak" is really appropriate. Krauthammer calls the "whole story" "absurd." It is, but I don't think for the reasons Charles thinks. Krauthammer posits that Scooter was really acting as a kind of friendly fact-checker for the press: He knew about the "distortions" and so he needed to correct them.
OMG WHAT IS MARA LIASSON WEARING!?!?! She's full-on plummy with oil-slick lip gloss and a huge rhinestone brooch. Agrees that if a "leak" is "unauthorized," then, well, "this was very authorized."
Kristol says that while he knows people who like and respect Patrick Fitzgerald, "I now think it's a politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration."
Immigration debate turns up as dissection of who will get hurt the most by lack of a compromise bill. Democrats benefit from lack of any bill at all, says Kristol. Liasson says that being seen as "anti-immigrant" will hurt Republicans but Republicans have been the loudest in celebrating defeat of compromise. Krauthammer says that turning immigrants into "felons" is what brought protesters into the streets and that word will be "hung around the necks of the Republican House."
We end with a little light hearted Saddam humor: fake state torture inspired limericks courtesy Jimmy Kimmel show. Hilarious.
John Boehner shows off his tan. He's seems notably less smiley than when he became leader. Budget talks not going well, though Boehner wants to talk about how they're cracking down on earmarks. George just asked him "how do you solve this Rubik's cube" -- itself a mindtwisting metaphor. Boehner can't help but rub it in that the House has passed an immigration bill, unlike those fancypants in the Senate. Says that the Senate compromise "sounds like amnesty" to "most Americans." No sign of a dictionary here.
Ninety-five House members have signed a petition to bring a discussion of Iraq policy to the floor. Boehner says that he has "no fear" of bringing a resolution to the floor. "We went to Iraq for the right reasons" and "I think we're winning" -- George interrupts, "We're winning?" I have to say that Boehner comes across as much less of a lightweight than he did months ago. Perhaps it's because his tan is not as dark.
George pulls out actual copy of the NYT to read from story about the dismal Iraq study. Old school!
Bush and Congressional approval ratings in the crapper -- is a Democratic takeover coming? Boehner: "The choices are simple." Well, that's true. Admits that the Republicans "have had a rough year...I'm not going to deny it." Lists DeLay's "troubles" as part of the roughness, George tries to edge in: "Is it better that he's gone?" No answer. Republicans are moving forward.
Oh, great: Joe Wilson. Because he needs more of a platform. He took his somber pills this morning, however. Being very frowny and disappointed. He's the hip guidance counselor who really wishes you hadn't tried pot. Best drama of the morning are the clips from McClellan's briefings, wherein he looks as purple as his tie. Wilson says that the president should fire the leakers if he wants to maintain credibility. "Maintain." Heh. Cute, Joe.
I think I like him better in bloviating snark mode.
George asks if he's going to file suit against anyone in the White House, Wilson: "We're keeping our options open." Says that the President owes the American people an explanation first, and also one to the troops in Iraq. Okay, who gave Joe media training when we weren't looking?
Panel: Fareed Zakaria, George Will, Cokie Roberts and EJ Dionne.
Will lays out the argument on the Fitzgerald side: "How can he claim to have been too busy to notice [what he did and didn't say to reporters] when the President is involved?" That said, Will has trouble with "concept of a Presidential leak." Fareed says that giving out a name of CIA agent is not "declassifying."
Roberts runs down the recent lowlights: Katrina report, vice president shoot someone, Dubai port deal, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and who knows? Dionne trots out a line that I imagine he wrote down before coming out: "What did the president forget and when did he forget it?"
Will: Fitzgerald report claims that the President "was trying to discredit, punish, or seek revenge against a critic... where in the federal statues does it say that is forbidden?" OMG. GREAT POINT. I also think it does not explicitly forbid the president killing a man with his bare hands. Watch your back, John Snow!
Zakaria notes that the Iraq report says 35 percent of the country is in trouble. Asks of Rumsfeld, et al: "Are they really seeing the same world? Are they living in some kind of fantasy?" Yes, they are. Only things missing are naked cheerleaders and beer fountains.
George S. dubs Tom DeLay "the most optimistic man in America" for claiming that the GOP can "grow the majority" in the House. Everyone loves Gingrich's "had enough" quote as slogan for the Dems, though Cokie wonders if real Democrats can really beat real Republicans as opposed to generic ones. Zakaria says there are, in fact, ideas at war underneath political battles: GOP used to be able to claim to be more competent with defense and the economy. These ideas are slipping.
A quick detour into the Massachusetts health care plan, Cokie says states are "laboratories of democracy, yes, but also laboratories of practicality."
Show biz segment: Bernadette Peters and the ASPCA. Everyone likes dogs.
Meet the Press
First guest is some guy who looks vaguely familiar: John Kerry. Heard of him? Apparently he ran for President once, and Tim introduces him as the man who won "48.3 percent" of the popular vote.
Kerry: "I thought it was 49.2"
Tim: "48.3 -- But who's counting?"
Oh, I remember this asshole now.
I think Kerry's hair is inflated. It seems to hover slightly above his head. A dark cloud, really.
They're talking about Kerry's deadline/ultimatum proposal. What will the government on demand look like? "I don't know the answer to that today...unless you combine that with the threat of withdrawal, it's not going to happen." Tim points out that an immediate withdrawal could make Iraq a "haven for terrorists." Kerry is jocular, laughs, "Oh, Tim, that's not what I've proposed." That's because it's what we already have.
Tim puts up Kerry's original proposal, from 2004: "My exit strategy is success." Why the switch up? "Now we have no choice, because the administration didn't do any of the other things I suggested." Okay, answer was longer than that, but I think I can summarize: Because now the war isn't as popular.
Personal anecdote: "Last night, late at night, I went down to the Vietnam wall... they were added to that wall after our leaders knew the policy wasn't working... This is not to be resolved militarily. It has to be done politically." I wonder if Kerry himself served in Vietnam. Do any of you know?
His vote for the war in Iraq is the one he'd most like to take back.
I think he's borrowed Mara Liasson's lip gloss. And he is anti-nuking Iran. "It is the HEIGHT of irresponsibility."
Re: NIE. Tim rolls tape of Alberto Gonzales defending the right of the President to declassify material for whatever reason he wants. Kerry: "This was not a declassification to educate America, this was a declassification to mislead America."
On domestic wiretapping: "I think this impeachment talk is a waste of time...all this politics is a waste of time." I dunno. If he broke the law...
He manages to bring in this idea that Americans want an optimistic, bipartisan leadership in every answer, including immigration. You think he might be running for office? "I don't know." Of the last election: Joe Klien's new book claims that Kerry intended to speak about Abu Ghraib but that consultants went to a focus group first. CRAZY TALK. Kerry says "I don't know about that focus group." Clearly.
Now the interns debate immigration. Rep. Luis Gutierrez: anti-House bill. It lacks compassion. Henry Bonilla: pro-House bill. "We have a crisis on the border." Talks the national security point. J.D. Hayworth: anti-House bill because it's not tough enough. Is actually against birthright citizenship.
Hayworth looks like he should be running a pool cleaning business but he did just reference the "legislative legerdemain of Lyndon Johnson." The irony of the immigration debate is that discussion of it is not nearly as exciting as the enforcement and enacting of it: giant fences! Vigilantes! Death defying journeys through the desert! Maybe we could settle whole issue by having congressmen try to cross the border themselves. Survivor: Legislative Edition!
Oh, and speaking of immunity challenges: J.D. is the number one recipient of Abramoff donations. And he's "so glad you asked about that."
Face the Nation
More interns. Reps. Thomas Tancredo and Xavier Becerra.
Schieffer says that because of the large demonstrations, "Congress decided to punt and go on vacation." Trancredo says it's unlikely a bill will happen. Becerra says the compromise bill could work if they could just have a "straight up-or-down vote." Smart borrowing of GOP language.
More discussion of undercover amnesty bills. Tancredo: "For the millions of people who do it the right way ... it's a slap in the face to everyone who believes in the rule of law." Becerra gets technical: It's not an unconditional amnesty. I dunno, I think the right's gonna win this doublespeak contest. Repeat amnesty enough and it'll just lose real meaning and simply be a Bad thing.
Becerra says the economic incentives are too great to make hardline approaches work: "A fence is not going to stop you." Oooh, dictionary definition of amnesty showdown! Tancredo says that the "textbook" definition of amnesty is simply letting someone get away with breaking the law. Then, oh well, interview order. And Schieffer gives Tancredo a slap: "You had a chance to answer my question but you choose to answer another one. And now we're out of time." Bi-atch.
GM's Rick Wagoner up now. "We certainly are facing some tough issues." Omg. He just said, "right-sizing." FLASHBACK. Where are my legwarmers and "Baby on Board" signs? There won't be a bailout but they are working with unions. And, by God, the new product lines are awesome. Schieffer: Is the real problem that "Americans just like Japanese cars and trucks better?" But it turns out "no one country has the silver lining on how to design cars." Which isn't even English. Someone clearly shuffled his index cards.
Schieffer's final thought: "Our elected officials have lost the ability to compromise" because of all of the favors they already owe to special interest. "Our political system is so broken, there's not much Congress can do." And on that note.