Chatology: No News Is... No News
This week's Chatology is abbreviated due to illness on the part of the author and TOTAL FUCKING LACK OF NEWS. You thought circle jerking to the tune of "Cheney's Got a Gun" was boring -- at least people could feign some kind of disagreement over it. The Port World of Dubai deal sets up a debate between those who think the deal should definitely go through and those who think that it should go through after 45 days. Mean people suck. Ice cream is good. Also, Joe Biden was on.
Full rundown and highlights after the jump.
Top topics... I mean topic: Ports ports ports. Other topics: How badly did the administration screw the ports story up? Can the Democrats profit from the ports story? Is the ports story being overhyped? Who still thinks "Ports in a Storm" is a clever headline?
Non-port topics: Possible civil war in Iraq, who's running in 08.
One-hit wonders: Mitt Romney's secular Mormonism on Fox News Sunday, Richard Gere pimping AIDS relief on This Week, Bob Schieffer worries that "we're too in touch," and Ahhh-nold tells George Stephanopolous that he "enjoys fixing California." The doctor recommended it after he injured his knee.
Quotes to live by:
•Bill Kristol goes Jackie Mason! Claims "the 45 days [delay in ports deal] is to give cover to the idiots in Congress," not the White House. Says "one has the sense that bush administration is just mailing it in... they should counter attack on this... Sue Myrick's letter to the President of the United States is idiotic and rude and an embarrassment." After being told he sounds sort of extreme and he says "to engage in that kind of behavior IS JUST IDIOTIC and they need to be called on it." Recites text of Myrick's letter in slightly fey voice implying that Sue makes war like a girl.
•Stephen Hadley tells Bob Shieffer, "In response to events like this [violence in Iraq], the interest in joining the Iraqi army has actually increased." Schieffer: "I suppose we can hope!"
•McCain tells George Stephanopolous, "the people who are in charge of security are customs and Social Security... excuse me, Coast Guard. I'm ready for Social Security."
•In addition to fixing California, Arnold Schwarzengger enjoys cruising portly pundits. To Tim Russert: "You look nice and trim [slight leering look down] your abs look good."
• And the inestimable Mr. Biden: "I've been dealing with the foreign military sales act for... for I don't know how many years!"
The not un-hot Francis Townsend in Ann Taylor, trying to walk a thin line between "there's nothing wrong, we've reviewed all the security issues" and "of course we'll review security issues." Discussing the bureaucratic hurdles having to do with obtaining visas and multiple agency access to security agreements, one has to wonder what party sounds legalistic and process-bound now? Talking point of the day: "You're not going to treat this country any differently than we treat
our other allies in the war on terror... This is a fundamental exercise in multinational cooperation." Chirs Wallace asks, "Do you think there's some anti-Arab bigotry in all this?" Fran dodges, but says, if there were, "It would be unacceptable and frankly offensive." Sort of like Ann Coulter.
She says Andy Card told the president about the PW of Dubai deal on Feb. 16. "So Scott McClellan was lying?" Presses Wallace. Ah, the time-honored throw Scotty under the bus tactic.
Rare Joe Biden sighting! Refers to Townsend as "Fran." Says the whole fricassee shows that neither Dems nor Republicans trust the president's stance on port security. First and best self-reference: "I've been dealing with the foreign military sales act for... for I don't know how many years!" Chris Wallace now applying for CAIR spokesperson, insisting that opposition to the sale is "anti-Arab bashing." Where was this concern for the appearance of bias during the wiretapping debate? On Iraq civil war, Biden says "we can't want peace and security in Iraq more than the Iraqis want it." I do think it's true they want it more. Time for traditional humiliation of low-ranking presidential candidates. "They're all better than known than me on the national stage. All I can do is say what' on my mind." Brags about being "too centrist for this."
Mitt Romney looks like he was grown in a lab and appears to be wearing an elephant tie. Feels need to prove something? Has the solidly tan good looks of George Clooney + George Hamilton. Has yet to say anything outside of the middle of the road. Grilled on abortion flip flop: his logic about coming to call himself "pro life" has to do with stem cell research. Huh? Mormonism: "People want a person of faith, most people don't care what brand of faith he has." Looking forward to the next Zoroastrian nominee.
Do you believe in the book of Mormon? "I'm not going to get into a discussion about the particulars of my faith."
And again with the humiliate the third tier candidate time: "How do you beat the Republicans who are better known than you are?" Essentially, he says, to know me is to love me. Chris admits that they have time to kill. Why else would any ask "The word is that you're really running for vice president."
Panel time with the usual folks: Juan Williams, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Cece Connolly. UAE deal up front. Many wonder what the fuck the WH was thinking. How is it that they missed making the argument that UAE is our ally? Juan: "he's a lame duck president." Krauthammer sees this as just a way to get a month and a half to "win the public argument." Pissed that they didn't use any of the solutions he suggested?
Cece Connolley taking the Mara Liasson role. Cece is a smirker, and I like that about her. Notes that "every member of congress seemed to have listen to Karl Rove" when he said that the midterms are going to be about national security. I suspect she had rehearsed this line and maybe even was hoping for a laugh.
Kristol gets grumpy. He calls Congressional opposition "idiotic." Says that the sectarian violence in Iraq "hasn't even caused a full-scale ethnic cleansing and I think we can stop that." All together now: LOW BAR. Thinks we should redouble efforts, increase troops levels. Also has a brain storm: We should "kill terrorists." DOH! In other words: "We have not a serious three year effort to fight a war in Iraq." Cece: "I think that really begs the question of what we HAVE been doing there."
When you're a former POW you can get away with a pink tie, and John McCain is no exception. Baby pink, really. Softening his image, a la Givhan's Cheney thesis? He certainly sounds sane. His line on ports included the assertion "the people who are in charge of security are the customs and Social Security... excuse me, Coast Guard. I'm ready for Social Security." On civil war in Iraq, he sound the admin's bell on one issue need to get a functioning government up, but is vehemently against a troop draw down. He has a much less optimistic view of how Iraqi army is doing than admin though he is "encouraged mildly" that the numbers are increasing. Makes this point about how withdrawal from Iraq won't end the war: "We can withdraw, and then they can come right after us.... their ultimate objective is the destruction of the west." So much for friendly pink tie. And the bite that will make the news: "I've been consistently pro-life... my position has been clear for 27 years." Yawn.
Sen. Carl Levin looks like he's combing over hair from his back. Also he has demeanor of the world's longest term DMV clerk. Insists that there's no issue in reopening port deal, and that it's just about following the rules. Anti Arab bias? Nonsense. "The is not a matter of profiling any particular country." On Iraq, he all but stands on desk and waves a white flag: "Does it make sense to stay there when we aren't coming to a conclusion?" and "There's no point in our staying without them coming together politically." Finally: "We should not intervene in that kind of a civil war. Only they can solve their problem."
Panel includes George Will, Torie Clarke, EJ Dionne and Fareed Zarakia. People still continue to be astonished that the WH didn't see PR storm coming. EJ: "Who knew we'd be longing for the politics of Hurricane Katrina." Fareed Zarakia look like a tan Willem Dafoe. The Brown Gobblin. George Will describes GOP rebellion on ports deal as a "Terri Schiavo oment." (Curious as to who is vegetative state in that metaphor.) The way objections are playing everywhere else is as "blatant racism," says Zarakia. Civil war in Iraq: Will notes we're not nation building in ANY sense other than the army. Zarakia notes that Iraq lacks any "Nehrus or Mandelas." This Week's weekly show biz segment: Richard Gere pushing HIV/AIDS help in India, acknowledging that allying with Bush on the issue is not bad.
Stephen Hadley calls last week "a time of testing." (Iraqis are apparently going for graduate degrees in total chaos.) WHY IS TOM FRIEDMAN ON? Also will someone please make the man wear a tie? He looks like he's about to head to a key party. And yet not looking forward to it. The man at the key party who drew his own key. Hadley: "They stared into the abyss." Interesting spin: violence was so bad no one will try it again. "In response to events like this, the interest in joining the Iraqi army has actually increased." Because they want guns. Schieffer: "I suppose we can hope!"
Friedman notes that anyone who's looked at this issue knows that the security issue is "bogus." Hadley admits that "what we need is something that buys some time."
Sens. Schumer and Graham. Lindsey Graham clearly reading from talking points, or, rather, some memo from the GAO. Accusing admin of "rushing through" the port deal. Schumer complains about secrecy. Tom Friedman has bad posture. Schumer says it's not the the UAE company is Arab-owned, it's that the UAE is within "nexus of terror." (Hey, that's kind of catchy!) "We're struggling as a nation in how to conduct the war on terror," says Graham, managing to tie in all of the GWOT's lowest points, from Abu Gharib to wiretapping. "We constantly remind ourselves that we're under siege," he says, so of course, when people read that a port that was attacked on 9/11 will be run by an Arab country, they get concerned. "It's not fair to have to read to about this in the paper."
Not a surprise, but Schumer did try to jump in an answer a question for Graham. At least they weren't in the same room.
Schieffer goes all Andy Rooney about being "too in touch" and "the new familiarity." I suggest you email him your thoughts.
Meet the Press
And with Rep Steve King and Sen John Warner we go straight into ports thing. King wants to know that no one in the company or UAE government has ties to al Qaeda and/or the Taliban. I am in love with King's hair. He looks like Elvis's granddad; maybe he should be running a hardware store or a bar. Warner is wearing an electric blue pocket square. Warner totally taking credit for the agreement with the company to "help work this thing out" by requesting a review. Insists that we must consider how "this looks" to other Arab countries. Fair enough but I wonder if that's a standard we want to, I dunno, invade countries by. King: "You CAN'T treat the UAE the way we treat great Britain." Sixteen minutes into the program, Iraq discussion. The fun of having feuding Republicans diminishes. Mostly because there's no real feuding. Iraq war was the right decision (no matter how it "looked" to the rest of the Arab world), but only the Iraqis can fix things. Say Warner, in his drunk-guy-at-end-of-country-club-bar way, "We can't give them an open ticket to just sit there and dither around."
Schwarzenegger interview... "First of all, let me say California is not effected by that, which is good." I didn't think this would be interesting but hearing the Terminator talk about foreign policy will ALWAYS BE HILARIOUS. "We have the globalization," he says, like it was product tie-in. "We have villainized the Arab world," much as I villainized evil thinking machines. On UAE deal: "It freaks everyone out and rightfully so." FREAKS. Love it. "The number one job of the government is to protect the people of California .... and the rest of the country." Priorities, priorities. Domestically, he's here in Washington to talk to Bush about health care and education and to "fight for those things." Iraq: it was the right decision but has "mushroomed."
He will not be running as a Bush Republican: "I will run as an Arnold Republican." Indeed. On legislative troubles: "It's like in weightlifting: sometimes you try the 500 pounds you can't lift it sometimes you can lift it." And sometimes you get a hernia. No wonder Bush is walking funny lately. His parting shot: "You look nice and trim [slight leering look down] your abs look good."