Chatology: Riding the Nuclear Tiger
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Chatology this week slightly enlivened by the appearance of Stephen Colbert, though it was offset by Chairman of Joint Chiefs Peter Pace doing a half-Ginsburg; he has the kind of whispery monotone that made us fall asleep during filmstrips in health class. Most notable segment: Bill Kristol channeling Arianna Huffington in his disappointment in the administration, causing massive freakout on the Fox set and Chris Wallace to utter the Quote of the Week: "My whole universe has been rocked."
Top topics: Potential (or ongoing?) civil war in Iraq; Katrina tapes; Dubai port deal.
One hit wonders: Two hits for the criminal investigation into Pat Tillman's death (MTP and FNS); Oscar talk on "This Week"
Quotes to live by:
• Stephen Colbert on his Oscar expectation: "a lot of jokes [about] abortion... it's a funny word, like guacamole."
• Peter Pace moderates his view on Iraq: "I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it."
• Juan Williams on DHS/FEMA infighting: "I'm going to put that off to two big boys having something in the back yard." Well, someone saw "Brokeback Mountain."
Full coverage continues after the jump.
Fox News Sunday
Peter Pace interview, Mike Brown interview
Top guest: Peter Pace, Chairman of joint chiefs of staff.
Criminal investigation into death of Pat Tillman... "there's one more step to take"; in other words, maybe this explanation will stick. It is the fifth formal investigation.
British reports that all troops out of Iraq in a year: "Not true." Spins sectarian violence as "government not even formed yet and ... they performed pretty well." Uses the "looked into the abyss" line. Chris Wallace points out that, well, shouldn't the government be formed already? Pace sounds like Henry Fonda. Tell us about the rabbits, Peter. Pressed on insurgents and the Iraqi army's inability to stop them: "We -- meaning they -- need to get it under control." Pretty much could be the slogan of this war.
Dubai ports controversy and Rep. Duncan Hunter's recommendation that the deal should be killed: Pace kinda gives a creepy grin and says "The policy debate is going to continue in public," making us all think that who-the-fuck-knows is going on in private. Asked if it's true that Dubai acts as a bazaar for the sale of arms to terrorists, Pace says, "I do not know if that is true." Shouldn't he?
Paid propaganda in Iraq: Wallace asks if we can really teach Iraq to value a free press while subverting it. Pace responds with another tagline that could be this administration's epitaph: "regardless of whether something is legal or not or authorized or not, what's important is the perceptions."
Mike Brown, pin-striped and somber. He's been coached. Kind of amazingly, he has figured out the exact proportions of whose fault the disaster was: "70 percent state and local, 30 percent federal." Such mathematical skills were not so obvious in calculating how to prevent the disaster. Rolls recent Katrina video. "The government didn't realize -- as I did -- that this would be a catastrophic disaster of Biblical proportions." And why didn't they realize it? Brown unable to apply Rain Man-like odds making to this question. Wallace presses on delays. Brown blames logistics system. Wallace: Hey, NBC got water there. Whole fiasco seems to be the result of an "Office Space"-type cold war between Brown and Chertoff. People died because Brown wanted his red stapler. Wallace posts up the infamous "fashion god" email. Brown says he was trying to "inject a little levity" to keep the "troops' spirits up." Let us know how that worked out.
Still asking for FEMA to be pulled out of DHS, "despite the politics of it."
Panel time: Brit Hume, Nina Easton, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams
Leading with Katrina video, Brit says "we learned nothing!" Does anyone else get a little turned on by all this talk of "topping levees"? Nina (best hair and jacket I've seen since starting Chatology, btw -- lovely modified bob and a light green silk jacket. Maybe a bit too Joan Crawford on the shoulder pads. Low bar but still.), cites the two reports, points out that Brown actually did do what he said he did, but that there was a lack of urgency. Kristol: "It's amazing how much damage Katrina did... to Bush, politically... I underestimated it at the time," thought people would "move on." Says that even conservatives worry about this administration being able to "execute." Not so many wry smiles from Bill this morning. Juan on Brown v. Chertoff infighting: "I'm going to put that off to two big boys having something in the back yard." Well, someone saw 'Brokeback Mountain.'" Hume basically says you just can't expect government to save people in a disaster of such proportions. Translation: Hey, dead poor black people happen.
Dubai Ports World controversy not over, apparently. The agreement to delay 45 days "has not stopped the political bleeding," says Wallace. Again, little discussion of actual mechanics of deal or how it would or wouldn't affect safety, mainly just astonishment that the White House didn't see this coming. Easton cites a Carville-Greenberg poll showing Bush loyalists shifting to Democrats. (REALLY? Huh.) Kristol says no one's shifting parties, they're just going to stay home. (Seems more realistic.) Kristol has unusually bad tie. Like burnt orange or something. Kristol: "Republicans will lose the house." Juan: "I'm sick of all this Bush bashing." Indeed: WTF? Kristol sounds like Arianna Huffington! Am I TAKING CRAZY PILLS? Everyone on panel having same reaction. Juan sputters that Kristol sounds like a Democrat. Kristol avers: "Vacuous opposition parties can when control of party... In all honesty, Democrats don't need a positive program. They should just keep quiet and let Republicans attack each other." DNC should hire this guy. Wallace: "My whole universe has been rocked."
Power player of the week: Gen. David Johnson of National Weather Service.
Podcast; Stephen Colbert interview (video)
Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Duncan Hunter on ports. Hunter talking about nuclear switches and "heavy water" being shipped through Dubai... says that President Bush doesn't have this information, intelligence briefs weren't included in the approval process. "We're gonna see a turn around." Collins sounds like a warbling substitute teacher and says approval process needs to be taken away from Treasury and given to DHS. Because they've done such a great job. Hunter: "I don't think President Clinton -- your old boss -- knows the specifics" of the risks involved. SNAP. Basically both calling for more review. Hunter keeps referring to Clinton as "your old boss." I kind of love him for that. Collins thinks it's "too bad for this issue to be used in national campaigns." Apparently the entire state of Maine exists in a cave.
India and nukes: Hunter says the President is "trying to ride the nuclear tiger."
Gen. Wesley Clark says "the United States has to find a way to fit into the modern world." Our security does not depend on who "owns" the ports, it depends on regulating them. I had forgotten how he doesn't blink. Asked if he agrees with Hillary Clinton's bill requiring American ownership, he says he appreciates how she's brought attention to the issue. Ouch. On Iraq withdrawal, Clark says "we're [at] a key point," we have a "choice between a C- solution and an F solution." Does that mean Iraq still has a chance of running for president? Pulling back now would be a mistake, he says. "You can't just jawbone" about preventing civil war, "we have to take leadership" -- does that mean we have to get involved in the civil war? -- sort of doesn't answer the question, admits we don't know enough about culture and language to police the country. Abyss bingo point: "We're at the edge of the abyss." Though he pronounces it like the head of an abbey.
Clark has advocated dealing directly with Iran before taking any kind of action. "Rather than passing a $175 billion dollar Iranian Liberation Act, why don't we just talk to them?" He makes it sound so easy.
George: "Seems to me you're scratching the Presidential itch just a little bit." Usually you need a cigar to do that. Clark says he's just trying to get Democrats elected in 2006. George: "You just ignored my question." Clark goes on about all the need for a strong two-party system but it does sort of sound like he's running for president.
Panel time: George Will, Bill Sammon and Robert Reich. Who was sick today? Opening with Bush's shitty poll numbers. Somehow Will starts talking about France AND gets a dig in about "your former boss." People are so mean to George. Reich starts talking about economics, median wage. I think he's sitting on a phone book. Ports deal "an amazing political failure." His tie looks like someone threw up on a Navajo rug. Bill Sammon looks a little like Jeff Gannon -- the cool, laser-like yet slightly vacant stare? George Will points out people don't trust the president anymore -- he can't, as he did with ports deal initially, say "I wouldn't do it if were bad for us."
Sammon says Democrats are trying to have it both ways on protectionism and isolationism. George: "But they ARE having it both ways. It's working for them." Talk turns to midterms: Strong Republicans will just stay home. Will: tactic in 1996 was to nationalize all elections, now we have to localize all of them.
Katrina tapes. George calls it tape from the "Crawford situation room." Sammon talks about tapes as Rorschach test and the media's "rehabilitation of Mike Brown," cites Margaret Carlson's column as "typical." Rehabilitated "for the purposes of the left." Will talks about "uncurious George," and "it's what's not on this tape that's alarming -- the absence of vigorous interrogation from the man at the top of the pyramid." Sammon said that Will is taking things out of context.
Now: "We gotta talk about the Oscars." Because they're on ABC. George Will mocks Hollywood for considering itself brave: "McCarthy hasn't been a threat for 49 years!" Reich says "Brokeback" IS brave. Sammon: "these are preachy, lefty films that most Americans will never see," and admits he hasn't seem them himself. George blames baby for keeping him away from the movies but he totally hearted "Brokeback."
I find the obit section of This Week a little creepy. That is all. This Week's obligatory showbiz segment features Stephen Colbert's advice for Jon Stewart and they've been teasing it for approximately 55 minutes. Segment itself lasts nine and is not a real interview. He expects a lot of jokes "about abortion... it's a funny word, like guacamole." Finally, "good luck, because I think he will fail."
Iraq talk with Rep. John Murtha. Bob Schieffer points out that Chairman of Joint Chiefs says things are going "very, very well." Murtha: "Why would I believe him?" I love this Murtha guy and he actually rattles off facts with great facility, but he kinda reminds me of Chris Farley's motivational speaker character. OMG just noticed Schieffer's tie. I think he stole it from Austin Powers. LIME GREEN PAISLEY. Murtha: "The only people that want us in Iraq are Iran and al Qaeda." Insists that Iraq will/need to take care of himself. Points out that anyone we endorse in Iraq tends to get voted out. Says that the public has "caught on" to how badly the war is going and that Republicans are figuring it out too. "I predict there's going to be a big turn over in Congress."
On ports controversy: "It's an interesting thing... these guys have used fear as a club and then wonder why Americans should react so viscerally!" Says he wants to learn more about it but right now would be against it if it were up to a vote. On Iran: "Iran knows we can't deploy to a second front." Back to Iraq: "It's not a we thing, it's them thing." Uh-huh.
Sen. Richard Lugar says that the question is "whether Iraqis want to be Iraqis," as opposed to sectarian blocs. "We're on the cusp of figuring that out." Refuses to back the statement that things are going "very, very well." Boils it down: "The heart of the matter, for most Americans, is people being killed." Wobbly on troop withdrawal, there won't be any "in the next few weeks." Bold. Lugar's prediction about how Iraq will play out for Republicans is that it depends on how Iraq plays out for Iraq. Schieffer: "That sounds like my golf game: If I can hit that next shot just right, then suddenly I'm a good player." Defends the Indian nuclear agreement. It's "wise" to have the 45 day examination of the port deal. Port security is what "Americans are really interested in."
Schieffer's final word is on the Katrina tapes. It revealed the bureaucratic boondoggle. But "Didn't we know that already?" We need to "stop the tape and go live."
What a tease: "Edwards and Kemp, together. Only on Meet the Press." Is Joel Osteen still on? First up, however: Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs head, making half the rounds, insisting that things are going hunky dory, though "I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it." No fucking shit. Though I think that's part of the paid propaganda initiative. Speaking of, Pace says that Americans think that things are going badly because "I don't think we're getting the goodness out to the American people." Doesn't think that militias are "a major, long term problem." On Noam Chomsky being the favorite author of a Iraqi Prime Minister front runner: "I would be concerned if the only access to foreign ideas he had was that one author." If one only read Chomsky, the concern might be staying awake.
Lack of WMDs: Says Pace, Well, they're still better off today. Uh-huh. Russert: "We were told the insurgency was in it's last throes... that just isn't correct, is it?" Pace says that this is about "sustaining family structures." [?] When did James Dobson start advising the Pentagon? Though I would actually prefer a culture war in Iraq to what's happening now. Can we ship over some copies of "Brokeback"?
To the criticisms of William F. Buckley, Pace says Buckely should visit Iraq and see the progress for himself. Tim: "Do you really think it would be safe for William F. Buckley to walk the streets of Baghdad?" Chuckle. Pace: "Well, maybe not every street." Pace also pooh-poohs Americans' concern, says they aren't seeing the whole picture: "What they see is the same bomb going off every fifteen minutes on television." Much as they saw the same vase stolen.
Is Afghanistan the forgotten war? Pace says it was forgotten by the terrorists for awhile. Tillman criminal investigation: Claims that investigations have been complete and though there was no indication of criminal activity, now they will go back and see if there was any criminal activity. Mindfuck.
Sens. John Edwards and Jack Kemp, TOGETHER. Man, it's like Clapton and Page. Or, uhm, Keillor and Glass. Though that would be more exciting. Zzzzzzzz. Tim calls them "former wanna-be vice presidents." Ow!
Kemp looks like someone put a white rabbit on his head. A plush Liberace 'do. Oh, he's talking about Iraq allow me to pretend to pay attention: lots of misjudgements, little opportunity for reward. Thinks we need to set a deadline. To Edwards on his Iraq mea culpa: "Why were you so wrong?" Edwards: "Well, I wasn't the only one who was wrong." Way to take responsibility. How did he come to change his mind after spending 2004 defending his vote? "When the election was over, and I had time to think about it and reflect on it." Wouldn't the time for reflection be before you became Vice President, not after you lost?
And we turn to the ports. Kemp has defended the deal. Of course, he's a lobbyist now. (Right?) Says that 80 percent of ports operated by foreign companies are companies with ties to governments, including communist governments. This does not make me feel better. Edwards says of course we shouldn't discriminate against certain foreign countries, we should discriminate against all of them! Foreign companies shouldn't be allowed to run ports in general. Talks about practical container security.
Tim points out that Edwards has been to UAE and voted in favor of providing them with fighter jets. Edwards is all like, "I totally heart the UAE!" Repeats how it's not about Arab companies but foreign companies. Kemp: Bullshit. Okay, really, "that doesn't agree with facts on the ground."
The two of them have been working on poverty issues. Kemp says Katrina gave Bush admin an "image problem," and that it uncovered "a level of poverty that's unacceptable... and a level of racism." Says "we need a massive, dramatic effort" to recover the Gulf. Edwards calls poverty "the great moral issue of our time." Katrina "gives us an opportunity to do something." Notably, both of them have avoided blaming a particular party and have focused on policy. Edwards talks about simply figuring out how to help the poor "acquire assets" (a home, a car, an education).
Now discussing their brief on US-Russian relations... when did Edwards become a Russian expert? Russia's anti-Democratic moves are cancelled out by their role in "all the important issues of the day," says Kemp. "It is a pragmatic relationship." Kemp says we should use G8 membership as a threat. Edwards says we need to "look at this thing from an altitude," and consider how "the great nations of the world" can solve the world's problems. And "it's better to have Russia on the inside," and one of the things we need them for is Iran. Specifically, we need them to stop helping Iran.
Oh awesome: Bush's x-ray vision quote on Putin, seeing his soul and whatnot. Kemp: "I don't think the President would say that today."
Tim points out that Edwards sure has been going to Iowa and New Hampshire a lot. Edwards: "I can't imagine where this is going."
Chris Matthews show: Why do all women on Chris Matthews' show tend to look like men in drag? Not that they're not pretty, they just look like pretty men in drag. Matthews' clarifies his demographics: "This is an American show. We're talking to Americans -- and some visitors to our country." Also he asked David Brooks to imagine "you have a big automatic weapon." Much discussion of military strategy because of course Katy Kay is an expert in such matters. "Crash" v. "Brokeback" for Oscars; Chris totally loved "Crash." Things that Chris didn't know: Katy Kay says businesses regretting investing in Iraq; Joe Klein says moderate Dems moving to the left on globalization; Andrea Mitchell says U.S. will have to put in peacekeepers in Sudan; David Brooks was taken to a French restaurant by Mitt Romney.