Chatology: No Problem With Mean
Having finally recovered from Prom, Chatology returned to her perch on the couch to sit through 3.5 hours of bone-grindingly obvious talking points. We're used to butt-punishing workouts, but this is not our favorite among them. That said, a surprisingly sexy Sunday morning. ALSO: Can't get enough of that wacky Bush impressionist? We can.
• Michael Hayden, spook or just creep? Rep. Pete Hoekstra makes news by negation: Hayden "is the wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time." McCain is more loving.
• '06 sickness/Congressional "culture of corruption," with Republicans showing Reaganesque -- which is to say, delusional -- optimism.
• Goss's departure: Not did he jump or was he pushed but rather, "Pushed, shoved, or run over with a truck and stomped on the face?"
Quotes to live by:
• Saxby Chambliss on Hayden: He is "just a class individual" (as someone who questioned the patriotism of a paraplegic, he knows class!)
• George Stephanopolous makes right wing bias hunters' heads explode: "That was not one of the top four pieces of legislation that Speaker Pelosi...ah, I don't know why I have that stuck in my head today..."
• Chris Wallace masters the obvious: "I don't have to tell you, you are the chairman of the intelligence committee."
• George Will teases the Kennedy story: "One reason this story touched all of this city's erogenous zones..."
• Bill Kristol looks on the bright side: "I'm looking forward to getting more sex into this scandal."
• David Brooks auditions to be Maureen Dowd: "This has more layers than a Tom Clancy novel."
Your full-on weekend chat soup after the jump.
Dianne Feinstein, swathed in pink -- perhaps not the best choice for a woman talking about national security issues. She's concerned about Hayden taking over the CIA ("It's a civilian agency.") and, of course, NSA wiretap. Saxby Chambliss -- winner of the Senate's Most Awesomest Name contest (Olympia Snowe second runner-up) -- says he shares concern about military running the CIA, but "at the end of the day," Hayden is "just a class individual" (as someone who questioned the patriotism of a paraplegic, he knows class!).
I want to make clear that I like Dianne Feinstein. I do. But she should not have worn pink (though it's a nice color on her). Also she had Jack Nicholson eyes. Perhaps it's time to do a Delay?
Discussion of CIA's problems, morale, lack of intelligence, and Porter Goss's mistakes (DF: shouldn't have brought his Hill staff over); Saxby says we can't continue to let the people who let 9/11 happen run the agency...White House, fine, but not the agency. The buck stops over there.
Feinstein laying into pre-war Iraq intel, showing an emotion beyond "Ambien hangover" for the first time this morning.
Tom DeLay up now -- what with Scott McClellan coming up, it's disgraced former lackeys day on This Week! George Stephanopolous shows gas prices, poll numbers and asks about Republican House races. DeLay shows the optimism of a smiling mug shot: "none of these things will effect the races."
"We are paying the price of Democrat policies." Uh, right. Because they control the House, Senate, White House... uhm... wait...
Asked what reasons he'd tell a voter to vote Republican: "Look at the alternative" -- and rattles off culture war issues. So that's how they're going to play it. This is going to be a long summer...
On the "culture of corruption" charge, DeLay snaps back: "Howard Dean is creating a culture of hypocrisy." Says something about Pelosi being "found guilty" of ethics violations, which makes it sound like she had a trial or something. And, shit, my brain is going to explode, he just criticized the Democrats for playing the "politics of personal destruction."
Dean comes in, and, in his first talk block has the biggest snap of morning: "I'm not going to get into an argument with a guy who's on his way out of Congress." George Stephanopolous brings up the Dems who are under ethics investigations. Dean says Dems ASKED for investigations, that's one difference. Then we get a list of Republicans under investigation. This is not helpful, particularly, but it's what Dean has. Is also wearing blue button-down collar shirt, with shmutz on the lapel of his jacket. Who dresses this man?
George Stephanopolous asks if William Jefferson should resign if found guilty. Dean: "Yes." GS: "Really?" Dean: "Yes." I think George thought there might be some discussion of that.
And now for the line that will cause a wingnut blogasm, George: "That was not one of the top four pieces of legislation that Speaker Pelosi...ah, I don't know why I have that stuck in my head today..."
Dean: "I like the sound of that, George."
I personally don't think it's bias toward the Dems, George is just a VERY excited about the midterms this year.
George Stephanopolous quotes RNC talking points about Dems' intention to impeach Bush. Dean: "They just make that stuff up over there at the RNC." I kind of love the belligerent Dean. He's got a weird anti-charisma, and he's pissed: "The day has come and gone when this nation is going to believe Republicans about anything."
Roundtable with Martha Raddatz, George Will and the incredibly tiresome Katrina Vanden Huevel.
On Goss, Will teases: "One reason this story touched all of this city's erogenous zones..." But then somehow escapes mentioning hookers at the Watergate. Leave that to Katrina, who gets positively giddy in being able to say out loud: "poker games and prostitutes" in relation to the dismantling of the nation's intelligence infrastructure. Raddatz plays down the angle though it is getting mention "in the blog world."
Raddatz points outs that if you look at the reasons given for Goss's departure -- people didn't like him, he was a bad administrator -- "And yet Don Rumsfeld remains."
Turning to Hayden, Will predicts a huge fight. Katrina is itching for one. Finally, a chance to hammer someone on NSA wiretaps in a confirmation hearing. Raddatz notes that "the public does not seem terribly upset." A bigger problem? Lack of experience with "human intelligence." Katrina tries for the easy joke: "We need a lot more human intelligence in this city."
Camera pulled back to reveal that Martha is wearing kitten heel sandals, which makes me like her. Katrina, on the other hand, is dressed like Freudian analyst on a first date.
Usual show biz segment is devoted to Scotty McClellan, who is finally smiling for real. "Most secretaries don't miss the podium, but they miss the job." Talks about the importance of humor. "That's one piece of advice I'd give anyone who wants this job." Who in the fucking world would want that job. Or maybe that's the joke...
Hoekstra repeats the concern about having a general in charge of the CIA. Would "send the wrong message to our agents around the world." Wallace: "You think the perception is that he'd be under the sway of Rumsfeld?" Hoekstra: Duh.
He explains, very deftly, WHY people are concerned about having the military take over intelligence: the military cares about the danger that exists today. The CIA's job is to advise on intelligence that will effect policy, winning wars is a different job.
Wallace: "I don't have to tell you, you are the chairman of the intelligence committee." One would hope so. "Nothing I've said to you today will come as a surprise to the White House." But he's not concerned about having to work with him -- "Mike and I have a very good personal relationship." On Goss, "I talked to him on Friday and I had no idea... The guy can keep secrets!"
Responding to Harman's crit that "300 years of intelligence" have been lost under Goss, Hoekstra says that the agency was in "free fall" BEFORE Goss came on, he's not surprised that losses continued. He's concerned about the possibility that under the new director, the agency will become more bureaucratic. "We will push on that."
And this will come as a shock to many, but both Arlen Specter and Joe Biden are on. Good thing they're in separate studios with their own personal cameras. Wallace asks about how the WH "wouldn't mind a fight" at the confirmation because it would show Dems to be soft on national security. "That's ridiculous."
Specter says he looks forward to the confirmation as "we might be able to find out what exactly Michael Hayden was doing." Would Specter hold up the nomination in order get answers? "I'm not making any predictions.... I want to know what the program is. We cannot judge its constitutionality until we know what it is."
Immigration: Are Democrats ready to vote, up or down? Biden blames the children in the House. "We've been stiffed by the House." He gives a lot credit to Arlen for getting the McCain-Kennedy out of committee. "If he's one of the conferees, we might not get rolled by the House."
On Judge Kavenaugh: Biden says "I have no line in the sand." On Boyle, however: "I am unalterably opposed." Well. Specter says he's studying Boyle's "potential conflicts of interest... where there may be a line in the sand for the Democrats that would be justified." Wallace wants to know if Boyle would present the kind of "extraordinary circumstances" triggering a Gang of 14 filibuster. No, says Specter, conflict of interest is simply a disqualifier on its own. And Kavenaugh, definitely no.
Biden talks on his three-state plan for Iraq. "The sectarian genie is out of the bottle." Besides, "Who else offers a plan?" Good point.
Roundtable: Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams.
Wallace opens: "In a town where no one likes to admit they're surprised," everyone was surprised. I would like to note that this a theme of my book and that Chris has copy of it on his desk at this very moment.
Mara Liasson: OMG WHAT IS SHE WEARING!?!?! There is glowing, radioactive alien hairball on her lapel. Anyway: CIA is "a regular mess." Also Bush wanted him out for a long time.
Kristol: Goss was "trying to do what he needed to do... and his reward was to be fired... it's an outrage and a terrible signl to conservatives" in government. CIA will become a "mini-State department" full of bureaucrats where Bush's "foreign policy agenda" will not be a priority. Riiiiiight. That's why BUSH fired him? Kristol is genuinely outraged but it's hard to parse how the White House would participate in it's own disenfranchisement from the CIA.
Juan Williams says something.
Hume believes that Goss was "trying to do the right thing" but was unable to. "It's way too early to conclude who won and who lost." Kristol says Hoekstra used military objection to Hayden as a stalking horse for his real objection: Hayden is a bureaucrat with no human intel experience.
Juan Williams says something. (Wonkette readers may be interested to know that he tosses out Fran Townsend as a possible Goss replacement.)
Now onto "Congressmen behaving badly," "who has the upper hand now?" Wallace teases. Wallace calls Kennedy car accident as "the saddest" incident. Hume says that Capitol police reverted to traditional role, "to protect these people, not to arrest them." He's surprisingly sympathetic and points out that it's a very different kind of scandal than the others in the paper: It's not the kind of thing that gave rise to "the culture of corruption" in either party.
Mara's hair could withstand a windtunnel. Says that the Dem money scandals just reinforce public perception that "everyone does it." Kristol STEALS MY LINE: admits that "I've had a hard time following these scandals... they're all about money and it's hard to follow, and this week I must admit I got interested, with the talk of poker parties at the Watergate and the procurement of prostitutes." Passes on a curious piece of folk wisdom garnered from Mara: "You don't procure prostitutes for JUST ONE congressman." Economies of scale I suppose. "I'm looking forward to getting more sex into this scandal." Mrs. Kristol has some odd turn-ons, I guess.
Fox News Sunday mugs are now available. The perfect gift for someone who does spit takes over the New York Times.
Bob Schieffer dropped some acid before picking out his tie this morning. Or, rather, you will feel like you've dropped some acid if you look at it. Just drink this orange juice and stay away from the windows. He introduces guest John McCain with the big question: "Is he running for president?" You know, if Bob hasn't figured this out then I'm not sure he should interviewing McCain to begin with.
McCain backs Hayden, despite Chambliss and Hoekstra's objections. "With all due respect to my colleagues... Hayden is more of an intelligence expert than an Air Force officer." Does the Air Force know this? Call CIA director "the toughest job in Washington." Doesn't want the hearings to drag out, though "I want to give this a thorough hearing." I wonder if his inner thighs hurt after all that straddling.
Russia talk. McCain paints a picture of Putin trying to "recreate the old Russian empire," including jailing dissidents and their support for the dictator of Belaruse. Mentions his support of Bush boycotting the G8 in St. Petersberg. "I hope he'll have a frank discussion with Vladamir, who I know he has a good personal relationship with. But personal relationships end where oppression and repression begin." Not straddling anything on that one.
On to Palestine. (All this foreign policy talk sure would be helpful to someone running for president.) Can't recognize Palestine until they renounce desire to bring an end to Israel. Will announce candidacy for president next year, "right here on Face the Nation."
The Falwell question. McCain puts it into context of all the speeches he gives at many universities. He and Falwell have "put our differences behind us." Keeps saying that he loves talking to "students" at "these universities." As for the sucking up: "I feel honored to be invited to speak there and other schools." Talking points remain steadfast even if McCain doesn't.
Something he's a little more comfortable talking about: Earmarks. "It's a shameful practice." Wants president to veto spending until it "gets down to his number."
Roundtable: Colbert King and David Brooks
Brooks is surprised by the opposition to Hayden. "Fear of Rumsfeld" is driving it, not fear of Hayden. Colbert surprised as well, notes Hoekstra "wrong man, wrong time, wrong place" mantra. Bob is also surprised. We're all just shocked, really.
"This has more layers than a Tom Clancy novel," says Brooks, which suggests that there should be more handsome people involved. And guns. And awkward sex scenes. And it would actually be easier to follow.
Colbert has going point: Goodbye platitudes at the resignation announcement, but WH staff going on background to say Bush had lost faith in Goss. "No wonder people are cynical."
King and Brooks both give McCain a pass on Liberty University speech. Brooks: "It's not going to change who he is... He's the class clown in the back of the room, saying 'Oh, give me a break.'" I don't think you can be front runner from the back of the room but whatever...
Schieffer's final word on the Star Spangled La Bamba is cogent: Cites the times when American icons have been used in other revolutionary contexts, including the paper maiche Statue of Liberty in Tianamen Square; "when people adopt our symbols of freedom, it makes them stronger, not weaker." Word.
Pelosi is wearing a lime sherbet colored blazer and distracting mascara. Did Porter Goss leave voluntarily? "No." She's all about bipartisanship in intel but then pops up with Goss's connection to "Republican scandals." She's careful: "I have NO THOUGHT that he is caught up in it," but talks about his questionable appointment of Foggo.
She has serious concerns about Hayden. His connections to NSA wiretaps, specifically, but says that shouldn't be a topic in confirmation hearings. Hm. Criticizes the "clique" of the intelligence community, "it's all just musical chairs." She speaks in a strange, urgent whisper.
NSA wiretaps, "we shouldn't violate the law just because they don't have enough lawyers." Tries to stay on the side of intelligence gathering but not endorse this specific program, uses "protect the American people" A LOT.
She has recently come out in favor of withdrawal from Iraq... why the change of heart? Well, there's this great guy, John Murtha... Jeez, NOW she backs him... what a spineless ninny. Of course, a lot of things have changed: "The President continues to dig a hole in Iraq." All the Democrats are united around the idea of "significant transition" in Iraq in 2006. Yeah yeah.
Gas prices: It's a national security issue and domestic issue. "We intend to achieve energy independence in 10 years." How to support this? Would you repeal the Bush tax cut? Tim: "It all takes money." She refuses to answer, says that ending the war in Iraq would also give them the money they need. Democrats have a goal, a timetable, a plan. Just not the power.
Balanced budget: Democrats are committed to pay as you go, and there will be "no deficit spending." Lots of Clinton budget surplus nostalgia. She almost gets misty-eyed.
Taking the House: She's not measuring for draperies, but she does want the people to know what they'll do if they do win. Tim: Would Conyers try to impeach Bush? Pelosi: "We are not about impeachment." There will be investigations, and hearings, tea parties and treehouses. She also says that "you don't DECIDE to impeach," you go where the facts take you. This is a good point.
Culture of corruption gets the usual "but what about the Dems" spin. Insists it's worse for Republicans. I am just really bored right now and will stop commenting unless she veers from talking points.
Roundtable: Dan Balz and Todd Purdum.
Lead with all the horrible polls, including high disapproval from conservatives. "Dan Balz, explain." And then he does: "Iraq... gas." It's not a tough question, it's true. "The Democrats' optimism may be slightly displaced and they are setting expections very high.... if they don't take the house, they might feel like they lost the election." Well said.
Clips from Cheney interview this morning. Will he bow out to give the President a chance to pick a successor? No, no, no. Balz agrees that it's highly unlikely... Purdum talks about his VF profile and how Cheney has changed since the 70s. "He's always been much more conservative than people knew."
I kind of love how Cheney continues to insist "we are viewed as liberators." Balz notes that "people see a different reality." I would say, they see reality.
Steve Bridges, professional Bush impersonator comes on... and Tim is treating him like it was a real interview. I find this kind of humiliating but the bar is low for humor Sunday shows.
"Why did you fire Porter Goss?"
"It's a secret."
Lots of uncomfortable laughter at not great jokes.
The clip from the Correspondents Dinner comparatively hilarious.
Now interviewing Bridges as himself. Whew. Two and half hours of make-up go into it. That's more time than Bush spends preparing for debates. Tim asks about "crossing the line." Bridges has politic answer: "I want to make people laugh...without being mean."
No one at Atrios will believe me, but I personally have no problem with mean. Tim is so clearly energized by this interview it makes me a little sad. Bridges is talking about how Bush's mannerisms "endear him" to people. So much for mean.
He then makes Todd and Dan ask Bridges questions in character. I think maybe he's giving Tony Snow an idea.
"The more I get into it, the more I find myself backing away," from political views. He says he has to focus on the funny. Personally I find having political beliefs helps makes things funny -- it gives you something to be pissed off about.