Chatology: Digesting the Sunday Spew
By ANA MARIE COX
This Week's Sunday spew lacks a taste of Greece: The Brylcreemed smoothness of Washington's Hellenic homeboy, George Stephanopoulus, was pre-empted locally for emergency snow coverage. Because people in Washington are pussies.
We are thus unable to verify Condoleezza Rice's landing of a Half-Ginsburg, but she was scheduled to go on both "This Week" and "Face the Nation." She told "This Week" that the Danish cartoon protests "could spin out of control," which we would never have guessed. Also, apparently Joe Biden was on, which is like missing Haley's comet. If Haley's comet came every weekend. We regret the loss.
Full rundown and highlights after the jump.
↑ "Cartoon controversy" hits all cylinders this weekend, putting pundit asses in chairs from Fox to CBS, where Condi improved on the State Department's previous spin and -- shockingly -- stuck to her talking points.
↑ Fitzgerald investigation prodded into the spotlight by the assertion that Scooter Libby was given the "authority" to talk to reporters about the National Intelligence Estimate by his unnamed "superiors." This is invariably linked to...
↑ NSA wiretapping , the sole topic of discussion on "Meet the Press," but relegated to a supporting role by other shows. Talking points on both sides unchanged but MTP did bring back the ghost of Tom Daschle to speak on matter from the perspective of the spirit world. Should NYT reporters be forced to testify on those leaks? Ask some reporters! Also, Dems seem to have finally come to a steady talking point on the issue: It's fine to have a warrantless wiretapping program, just ask us first.
↑ Terror as a legitimate campaign issue, per Cheney. As long as we don't talk about gun control, right, Dick?
↓ Abramoff barely sniffed at, despite that awesome blurry picture snagged by Time.com, which looks a little like someone tried to get a snap of that creepy "booster" who comes to the Little League potlucks even though he doesn't have a kid.
One hit wonders:
Fox wonders if there's every a "proper time to go after the President"; Sen. Pat Roberts -- I shit you not -- urges magic "memory pills" on U.S. Congress on "MTP"; Chris Matthews admires Norah O'Donnell's technique (better than her ass, we suppose); Elisabeth Bumiller wonders if Bush can still see Putin's soul. We wonder if the mechanic she stole her mullet from is mad.
Quotes to live by:
• Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) goes out on a limb: "Well, we're defined by what we stand for and what we stand against."
• Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) speaks for us all: "I wish I had been smarter."
• Chris Matthews blinks into self awareness: "It's shows like this, where there are two guys talking, how [does a woman] get heard? Oh, hey, Norah..."
• Howard Dean tells us these are not the droids we're looking for: "I've often said that we went to war with Iraq without justification because the real problem is Iran."
Full rundown continues below.
Sens. George Allen (R-VA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) interview; Joseph Lowery and Ron Christie, back-to-back.
George Allen cites Farmers' Almanac as being correct about massive snowfall. Is ruddy-faced and homily-addled enough to be farmer.
Clip of Hillary accusing of Republicans ginning up fear as political strategy, Allen says he hopes Americans realize we're in a war on terror. BREAKING. Is it in the Farmers' Almanac?
Clip of Cheney putting stamp of approval on terror as political issue. Reed agrees that they're vital issues, and that Democrats have been the ones to make progress on the issue. Nice play! If only the nation were as secure as his hair.
Allen "the constitution doesn't get thrown out just because you're at war." Well, that IS breaking. Oh, but then he cites the "authorization of use of military force" (aka "the clown car act," or, the extra-constitutional gift that keeps on giving) as a blanket okay for wiretaps and whatnot. Reed disagrees, and he may be scowling, but it's hard to tell. Reed is a squat, angry man whose face looks like it's been squished the wrong way on a widescreen TV. Allen is one of those senators who thinks if he smiles while he talks he'll seem like he's making sense. I'm gonna go with the angry little man.
Was Libby authorized to leak the NIE? Reed says Fitzgerald should investigate. Wallace: Even if it's the vice president? Sure. Allen says that let the investigation proceed where it will. "I don't think anyone should be releasing confidential information, period."
Wallace: What positive reasons have you given people to vote for the Democrats? Reed: we have to concentrate on open, honest government, but then we have to deal with real issues, national security, "and we have to do something about this addiction to oil." Is ethanol the new methadone? Wallace: Haven't you been defined by what you're against? Reed: "Well, we're defined by what we stand for and what we stand against." Ah, a two-prong strategy.
Wallace asks Allen about why polls show Americans preferring Democratic leadership. Allen: We must support our troops in the war on terror. The man has exactly one talking point. Oh, wait: Drill in Alaska, line item veto, "judges is a big values issues." He has three talking points, though not all of them grammatical. Maybe he has a shot at the presidential nomination after all.
To Reed: "I understand that Republicans have plenty of Abramoff contacts, but what about Harry Reid?" Reed: Harry Reid is a honest man whose voting record is more shaped by his "zealous protection of the gaming industry" than Jack Abramoff. So it's not that Reid isn't for sale, it's that the gaming industry bought him before Abramoff did. Whew.
Next up: Coretta Scott King funeral "controversy" with Rev. Joseph Lowery. "Was that the proper time to go after the President?" asks Wallace. I'm eager to get a schedule on when it is okay, but I am sort of doubting Fox will supply it.
Lowery: "I'm sure Bush is smart enough to know that when he comes to a funeral for a civil rights leader, he's going to hear about the issues she gave her life to... Rosa Parks's funeral had more discussion of public policy than Mrs. King's." These are remarkably
Wallace tries to point out that Democrats didn't win the war on poverty. Lowery says that's the not issue: "I'm neither Democrat or Republican, I'm Methodist. One party takes us for granted, the other just takes us." Wallace is not succeeding in rattling him. Asked about what policies he advocates, Lowery says eliminate tax cuts for the rich, institute more programs to aid the poor, and admits "there are weapons of mass self-destruction which fall upon the black community... but we're talking about public policy." Wallace is trying his best to rattle Lowery, but I suspect that once you've faced down the segregationist Governor Wallace, no helmet haired cablebot is going to take you by surprise. Best part of interview? Lowery's small, dignified smile of satisfaction.
Now Ron Christie, a former White House something, author of the just-published "Black in the White House." [Note: Some former colleagues of Christie's joked that given his limited role and duration in the
administration, a better title might have been, "Black in the White House on a Tour." But really he was a "commissioned official," and apparently quotes the text of the commission in his book, which is kind of like reprinting your diploma to show you graduated from college.] He has a purple tie and lilac shirt on and his incredibly well-rehearsed. Christie criticizes those black leaders who are "looking at their own air time on the airwaves rather than at what might help black people." Uhm, yeah.... so your book's on sale where again?
He also says that Lowery's comments were offensive because -- not sure I've got this right -- "unfortunately you and I are sitting here talking about whether not they were political comments." But he supports Lowery's right to say them. No wonder his eyes appear to be crossed.
I think the reason why the Bush administration loved him is that he looks like an extremely tan Richard Nixon.
Discussion of how Bush policies favor the rich... or do they? Christie says they favor "Americans." Katrina catastrophe, Wallace says: The President has promised "bold action." What bold action? Well, says Christie, "He's led by example. He's gone down to Louisiana, he's gone down to the Gulf Coast." Huh. They do say that 99 percent of life is showing up. Shifts blame to local responders. But wait, the local responders have been there THE ENTIRE TIME, so shouldn't that be EXTRA bold? Repeats that Bush's main responsibility is to make sure the money gets to the right people. And also to show up.
Panel time! Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams and today, playing the role of Brit Hume, Fred Barnes, whose gasping sycophancy makes Ron Christie look a fucking gadfly.
Did Libby get "authorization" for leaking national security information? Kristol: Well, that's not what he charged with. Snap! "Criminalization of politics" yadda yadda yadda. Kristol also says that the NIE was released by the administration ten days later [in
quasi Jackie Mason voice]: "So, what, this is a great offense?" Barnes has on a red, white and blue tie. And says that we don't know what was and wasn't classified in the NIE, but "we do know" that the wiretapping leak to the NYT was a "violation of the espionage act." We "know" that, do we? I'm so glad that the judicial process hasn't been circumvented just for terrorists but for journalists too.
Kristol says that the NSA wiretapping and the "leaking" of the NIE are "apples and oranges," what's more, "the President is winning the wiretapping debate." Howya like them apples, indeed.
Juan messes up his laugh line: "It's not 'King George,' it's 'President...Bush.'" Astute.
OMG WHAT IS MARA LIASSON WEARING!?!?!!? She has stolen a linebacker's shoulder pads and mobster's pinstriped suit... but there's a red flower on the lapel, so it's a feminine look. Also, her lipstick appears to be from Revlon's new "Virgin Blood" line. I have no idea what she said.
Kristol has some free advice for Democrats: Support the President in the war on terror, but fight off-year election on domestic issues. Where I assume he'd also have them support the President. In other words, Democrats would win elections if they were Republicans.
"Cartoon controversy" -- Wallace expresses surprise that the protests are still happening. Barnes: "They're not exactly spontaneous." Mara's lips move and she's issuing speech like sounds. Violence bad. Something something.
Chris holds up copy of the Weekly Standard. Perhaps brought by one of the two employees of the Standard who are on the panel. Or by Rupert Murdoch, who pays everyone's check at the table who is not on the NPR payroll. The magazine has reprinted cartoons, "partly to show what the debate was about but also," he says, "we have to reprint them in order to show that we can't be intimidated." Juan: "I have to take my
hat off to Bill on this," knocks the State Dept.'s initial statement on this [which was totally pussy, IMHO]. Fred points out that if you're writing about cartoons that people haven't seen, you should show them. Mara says that she wouldn't be surprised that some editors might be frightened for the safety of their reporters if they run the cartoons. That would be the definition of intimidated, yes.
Power player of the week: National Air and Space museum geologist. Because we're going to Mars, did you hear that?
Feb. 12, 2006
It's all about the wiretapping. Tom Daschle (back from from South Dakota if not the dead, and he brought the hair of the young George Harrison with him) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI).
Daschle: "We were briefed," but "there were many omissions." He seems to have grown a toupee. Roberts "hates to quarrel with my good friend Tom," but "we were briefed," and "in my situation, I knew exactly what was going on... so consequently, I believe I was fully briefed." Or he's an idiot. It's a briefing throw down!
Tim cites Rockefeller letter to Cheney about lack of briefing. But Roberts says that his friend Rockefeller "never mentioned the letter to me." I don't think Pat has as many friends as he thinks he does. He insists that everyone who was briefed was comfortable with it and thought it was necessary. Tom Daschle shakes his head resignedly throughout this.
Jane Harman is wearing a pink Star Trek uniform jacket. She says she supports the wiretapping program but it needs to be on "sounder legal footing."
Tim shows text of Cheney letter accusing Democrats of "forgetting" their briefings and that the program was going fine "until there was publicity New York Times." Everything would be fine if it weren't for
those meddling kids!
Hoekstra on briefings: "We walked out of there believing it was legal, we walked out of there believing it was making a difference." Translation: "We were snowed." Says that if he thought that the President was breaking the law, he would have said something.
Why is Daschle here again? Only Democrat who would come through the snow? Anyway... says that President is making a false choice between war on terrorism and rule of law.
Tim to Harman: Do you regret not raising more reservations? "I wish I had been smarter." So do we all, Jane, so do we all. Apparently was crippled by inability to consult staff on the issue.
Tim to Roberts: What is the authorization for this action? Roberts: Every other president has done it. Also, he "disagrees with my good friend Jane." I don't believe a word this man says. Says FISA is unwieldy: "You gotta figure out what committee you go to and what details you reveal and what are you gonna say." Solution: Eavesdrop first, let God sort 'em out.
Hoekstra cites clown car legislation, does the little pinkie-thumb phone call hand sign to mime bin Laden making cell call.
Tim goes to Daschle. Poor guy's been kinda quiet. Reads from Daschle's WaPo op-ed history of the clown car legislation, which includes detail of WH trying to jimmy "in the United States" into the language of the motion, which would suggest they were thinking about some kind of domestic surveillance. Daschle says they did widen FISA for him. His whispery, lulling voice makes me nostalgic.
Roberts: "If you have ten dots here and you need a hundred dots to get a full picture," you can't wait for authorization. Dots? We're fighting a war on dots? What about the ju-jubee threat?
Tim asks "why not ask for a change in legislation?" Roberts sputters, says, "I...I don't know... I..." then: "I have some memory pills here."
And jesus fucking christ: he has some memory pills there. Is looking at them over his glasses like he's trying to figure out whether to take them with milk or not. O.m.g. "I think everyone here oughta take a memory pill every morning... because that's not my
recollection." (Guess he forgot to take them. Also missed a dose before the Senate Intel Committee Hearings on the invasion of Iraq.)
To his credit, Daschle is barely able to contain audible laughter. What brilliant staffer thought up this stunt and when will their resume be posted on Monster.com?
No one really fell for memory pill gambit...though what I would have given for Harman to ask if he had any "smartening pills." A regular Dr. Feelgood, that Roberts.
Daschle and Harman want the program to continue. I'm not sure why we're still discussing this. Roberts doesn't "meant to pick a fight with my good friend Jane whom I agree with 90 percent of the time." Harman shakes her head like the reaction shot of a contestant on a reality show.
Discussion of Risen exposure of the NSA program and whether reporters should be subpoenaed about such leaks. Harman somehow gets onto how Congress should be better briefed. Hoekstra says the NYT shouldn't get to decide whether something is of vital national interest. But, you know, if Congress isn't doing such a hot job... Daschle says he doesn't like leaks, but notes that the administration "seems to have a double standard when it comes to leaks."
Roberts has put away pill bottle but is now tapping pointer finger on table. "Some Justice Dept. employee by the water cooler who's upset by this.... or, perish the thought, some FISA judge whose ego is second only to that of a senator." Now we're getting to the bottom of things: The three FIA judges watching at home just yelled at their screens, "Oh, no you diiinnnnt!"
Tim asks about subpoenaing reporters, Roberts says, "you're talking to a reporter! If you look at the bio, it says 'Roberts, journalist.' An unemployed newspaper man." Well, that is confidence building -- and something else besides being an administration shill that Roberts has in common with Judy Miller.
Former intel honcho Paul Pillar article on intel and Iraq invasion. Daschle regrets how this all was handled. Roberts rambles about moving goal posts. Hoekstra says "these are interesting allegations" but "where was he before we went to war." Apparently, he was a National Intelligence Officer. Harman regrets "that our intelligence wasn't considered in full." If only you had been smarter, Jane.
Panel: Joe Klein, Norah O'Donnell, David Brooks (required by law to be on at least one Sunday show a week), Cynthia Tucker
Apparently Muslims are upset about some cartoons. Klein talks about Europe becoming more xenophobic. Norah is wearing red Star Trek uniform. She is fascinated by the use of cell phones and the web to spread hate.
Chris observes of protests: "they're all 35 years old and wearing the same brown suit... they're gung-ho and available to riot." Chris asks Brooks about the faces of these young men on the television, "what is that emotion?" Brooks: "It's not an emotion, it's a world view," which sounds pretty clever except that I think it really is an emotion: hate. Claims that Muslims think to themselves, "I don't have to strive and learn... they see history as an epic struggle... it's
apocalyptic." That sounds familiar somehow... they're not anti-evildoer, by any chance, are they?
Tucker says that it's "important to moderate in response" and doesn't see an immediate terrorist threat coming from it. Norah says "what was missing from this discussion was a world leader talking about
tolerance," says that Laura Bush is only one that's come close. Thank God we voted Laura Bush into office.
Chris: "we all come from the Abrahamic tradition... or you can debate that." Brooks: Bush is going to have to make some kind of pluralist statement. Everyone agrees that cartoon riots are a "symptom of something bigger." Chris compares it to "the war of Jenkin's ear." Huh?
Moving onto Barack-McCain break-up make-up. Cute use of sappy soft rock.
Now: Is Hillary too angry? Tucker: Women who are tough or angry get caricatured as being something that "rhymes with itchy." Laughs. Klein says it absolutely is a gendered attack. I agree, this is a horribly sexist strategy. There are many reasons to hate Hillary besides her emotional profile. Chris says he blames the news shows! Says Chris "it's shows like this, where there are two
guys talking, how do you get heard? Oh, hey, Norah..."
Norah says it's part of the strategy, but that Republicans will have harder time than with Kerry (because he's not a woman?). Ah: Not so much about gender but ANGER. Bushes have made a strategy about making it a lot about personality. Klein says that there's a "simple defense to this that Democrats have a hard time summoning: humor."
Brooks on Democrats: "they've got the blogs and the netroots and they're semi-nuts." Chris: Who has more nuts? Brooks: "Objectively, the Democrats." Ha ha everyone laughs. Agrees that "objectively," Hillary's comments weren't angry. Chatter about Bill at King funeral, Chris admires how Norah grabs Klein's arm to get into the conversation. "Would that work for Hillary?" Aw, she'd just rip it off, and devour it in a maniacal frenzy, no?
Now let's all tell Chris something he doesn't know. Tucker: There will be a move by states to bring FEMA back as independent agency. Klein: Rumsfeld not really transforming the military. Norah: 2006 is the "year of the veteran." Brooks: Cartoon riots have changed the dimensions of the NSA program? I think I missed something.
Now for Chris's deep thoughts on... Cheney. He's a very powerful veep, says Chris. SERIOUS QUESTIONS have been raised about him.
Feb 12, 2006
Schieffer has the most awesome "Network"-era-ish tie. Wide maroon, blue, and green stripes. So jealous. Elisabeth Bumiller has a mullet that would not be out of place some 10 years after "Network," most likely on a 30-year-old mechanic in New Jersey. With hair like that she should be drunk by now.
Guest is Condoleezza Rice, and we're straight into cartoon riots. "Violence in the streets and killing people" is totally unacceptable. Need to draw a distinction between peaceable demonstrations by people who are offended and not that. "We need to have tolerance and understanding of each other and it's in short supply." The talking points on this have gotten easier as the protests have gotten more violent.
Bumiller is wearing somethign from the Jaclyn Smith collection, I think. Asks about nukes in Iran. "Our view is that if there is a robust international response" we can prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. Define robust: maybe if we click our heels three times and rub our stomaches and pat our heads?
Schieffer asks about Russia. These are serious, substantive questions. No wonder no one watches. "Are you satisfied with Putin?" Rice: They have differences, but "on the Iranian situation" we're getting along. So much cooperation and working through the UN it's almost like the Bush administration believed in diplomacy.
Bumiller: "Did President Bush misjudge Putin when he said he had looked into his eyes and seen his soul?" Never trust love at first sight. Rice says something that's not really an answer and unfortunately doesn't say if Bushtin (Putsh?) is still a couple or not.
Howard Dean arrives. Schieffer asks about the Democratic response to Bush saying he needed to make a military response to Iran. Dean says he'd be shocked. "This President isn't strong on defense, he's weak on defense...I've often said that we went to war with Iraq without justification because the real problem is Iran." Bumiller asks about domestic agenda, do the Democrats have one? Dean lists it. This is sort of not exciting. I want angry Dean. "A real agenda for change"? Is he on meds or something? Someone poke him with a stick, please.
Schieffer cites Cheney's assertion about security as a political issue. Dean says Cheney has not credibility on security, cites Libby testimony that Cheney authorized leak. Would Dean prefer indictment or impeachment if Cheney did order leaking of national secrets? "He cannot remain in office." Bumiller asks what he means. Disappointingly reasonable, Dean insists, "First, we have to find out if it's true or not."
Bumiller with the Mehlman Hillary-is-angry quote. Dean says he can't comment on 2008, but defends Hill's comments about "worst. administration. ever." She's said things that are "true but that Mr. Mehlman finds inconvenient."
Schieffer on Mike Brown. Is in dire need of getting a break on the matter. Calls him "old Brownie" and says "we know it was failure of government on every level." "And God help us if there is a terrorist
attack." Because, presumably, the government won't.