Neilsen's next generation ratings system finds that while the Fox "News" Channel has more old, grumpy, computer illiterate viewers, CNN (especially) and MSNBC beat them handily when it comes to people who get their news online, rather than just "through the teevee..." Fox's response? Snark:
Fox, of course, views CNN's emphasis on a newfangled measurement as a mark of its failure to secure the old-fashioned ratings advertisers care about. "Apparently the sheer embarrassment of getting beat by both Headline News and MSNBC along with the continued implosion of Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper has led CNN to its latest act of desperation," says a Fox News spokesman. "We wish Jack well in continuing to defend their battle for fourth place."
Keep entertaining the masses, guys, even as the masses you're reaching head off into America's nursing homes.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."
He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."
In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."
A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.
There's much more, but don't expect the rest of the media to rally to Landay's factual cause. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out earlier this week, the mainstream media has long since moved the center to the right, and adopted the Cheney version of reality when it comes to war and national security, and relegated all other versions to the fringe:
What is, in my view, most noteworthy about all of this is how it gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism. Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions -- particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media -- acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.
Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the Bush approach to counterterrorism policy." That's because -- contrary to the ceremonial displays of regret and denouncements of Bush -- the dominant media view is this: the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism was right; those policies are "centrist"; Obama is acting commendably by embracing them; most of the country wants those policies; and only the Far Left opposes the Bush/Cheney approach.
Increasingly, President Barack Obama and Democrats who run Congress are being pulled between the competing interests of party liberals and the rest of the country on Bush-era wartime matters of torture, detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
When it comes to torture and Bush's Terrorism policies, it's the Far Left (which opposes those things) versus "the rest of the country" (which favors them). And she described Obama's embrace of Bush's policies as "governing from the center." Apparently, Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies are Centrist. Who knew?
BTW, if you caught MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning, you see Greenwald's point. The show, which increasingly is obsessed with rehabilitating the George W. Bush presidency, with Joe and Mika pulling the wagons and only Donny Deutsch and Lawrence O'Donnell running interference for the reality based community, has now become the new, unofficial home of that nasty piece of right wing work: Liz Cheney. Today, they gave her a full hour to bond with Mika and kvetch about Barack Obama not appreciating her dad.
Well, the Sunday shows were a wash. David Gregory had a rather dull interview with Jordan's King Abdullah, whose new book sounds like a keeper. The only interesting moment: Abdullah's obvious affection for his late father as he watched a clip of the late King Hussein. Meanwhile, in the panel afterwords, we learned from two Pulitzer Prize-winning historians that well, great presidents violate American values in wartime. It's just the way it is.
On "This Week," Stephanopoulos interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmenidejad, and managed to asked him the same question about a dozen different times: would he accept Israel if the Palestinians go for a two-state solution? Will he accept them in a box? With a fox? On a train? In the rain? Will he, will he? Make it plain...! The extent to which the American media (not to mention American politics) is obsessed with Israel's point of view is striking. And the extent to which the Muslim and Arab world are resistant to the pressure to bow to Israel is equally striking; witness Abdullah's repetition over and over again to a resistant David Gregory that a Palestinian state is crucial to peace, and Ahmadinejad's repetition over and over again to a resistant Stephanopoulos that the Palestinian people have rights that should be respected by the international communty. Natch.
CNN managed to get through an entire Sunday without really questioning the absurd notion that somehow, torture is a necessary evil (but only when WE do it,) and without once bringing up the now-exposed Iraq-torture connection. In fact, none of the networks brought it up. Instead, each of the Sunday shows focused on the entirely irrelevant question of whether torture got us any good intel. For the hosts of America's Most Important News Programs, torture is just another policy choice in the grand war on terror, and the debate is over politics, not legality. It's a non-debate debate that is, in a word, shameful, as is the complete rub-out of the most important news to emerge last week: that the Bush administration began torture Abu Zubaydah AFTER he gave up whatever relevant information he had, and did so at the same time the Bush administration was looking for some link -- any link -- between al-qaida and Saddam Hussein. It's a point that has been entirely erased from television since it broke last week, and as of Sunday, has been repeated by only three media personalities: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and on Sunday, Frank Rich, who points out the following revelations from the Levin report:
The report found that Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful.” As higher-ups got more “frustrated” at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, “there was more and more pressure to resort to measures” that might produce that intelligence.
In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.
But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus “intelligence” from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.
With this kind of bombshell laid at their feet, what explains the media's refusal to cover this story? Perhaps the newsies are simply ignorant of the relevant law (presented for them here in black and white...) on torture, and so they can't make the connection in their minds to Iraq ... or perhaps they, the Washington press corps in particular, were and continue to be wholly complicit in -- even cheerleaders for -- the whole "war on terror," Iraq war adventure thing, and thus can't bring themselves to question their own beliefs. Or worse, perhaps an editorial policy has been set at the top, at each of these networks, not to talk about the big, fat elephant in the room: the probability that the Bush administration tortured "high value detainees" Pol Pot style, in order to create false "evidence" that would allow them to sell the American people on going to war in Iraq.
In related news, Andrew Sullivan declares FBI interrogator Ali Soufan a national hero. Hear hear.
And the Washington Post publishes a lengthy he-a-culpa, essentially an excused absence letter to the school of public opinion from Judge Bybee's friends, saying he's a wonderful, thoughtful man after all, who rather regrets a certain memo legalizing torture. How sweet. Now, if the Post could just get up an article abouthow John Yoo loves to pet puppies... beautiful, fluffy puppies...
It's on. After watching MSNBC intermittantly throughout the day, and seeing not one word ... not one... about the Cramer v. Jon Stewart beat-down that the network had been hyping mercilessly before Cramer got served, I and many other folks wondered, wha happen? Having worked for NBC News a few years ago, from around Chandra Levy to the summer before the 2004 election, I can tell you that while it isn't Fox News, GE/NBC is a corporation, CNBC is a division of that corporation, and while many of us love MSNBC's evening programming, at the end of the day, GE/NBC acts the way any corporation does -- in its own interest.
Anyhoo, when I saw that the Cramer/Stewart showdown didn't make Morning Joe, or the afternoon news, or "Hardball," (except for a passing reference to Cramer by Joan Walsh at the end, which elicited little more than a groan from Chris...) or "Countdown" (I admit I only watched the first few minutes of Maddow, and apparently she did talk about it...,) and zilcho on CNBC's programming today (except for the incresingly sexy Donny Deutsch), I figured the word must have come down from corporate HQ: no need totalk about this. It isnt' good for the "family." I mean, for not a single clip of the exchange to appear, even on "Morning Joe?" Come on. We're loyal viewers, not idiots.
And wouldn't you know it? TV Newser apparently confirms it:
A TVNewser tipster tells us MSNBC producers were asked not to incorporate the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart interview into their shows today. In fact, the only time it came up on MSNBC was during the White House briefing, when a member of the press corps asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if Pres. Obama watched. Gibbs wasn't sure if the president had, but Gibbs did. "I enjoyed it thoroughly," the Press Secretary said.
So I'm reading the TVNewser post for the first time.
Frankly, the guy who posted this, the site's Associate Editor, Steve Krakauer ("SteveK"), is well known around the industry as being entirely in Fox's pocket.
His "MSNBC producers have been told" not to mention this, is, frankly, bullshit.
Have a look at his posts on this otherwise successfully neutral site: they are Fox News and Fox Business Channel press release rewrites, and anonymous criticisms from "industry sources" of people at CNN and MSNBC.
And the big finish:
... So, did Stewart do a good job? Obviously. Did we get ordered not to run it? Nope. Was stirring up rumors about a ban in the interest of a Foxophilic blogger with the credibility of a bush league Drudge? You bet.
Keith, Keith, Keith ... bubbie... I think you're protesting a little too much! And playing the Fox card? Questionable, brother. I'm not saying I know for sure, I'm just sayin' ...
UPDATE: More Keith 'splanation. Read it and see if you buy in. Most dubious:
... we do in fact give weight to stories based on how much they are covered by the older newscasts and organizations. In other words, if it's going to be on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, etc., that brings it down a notch in our evaluation of its worthiness in our show. Our show is primarily about trying to give airtime to stories that are not on ABC, CBS, CNN, and Fox.
Really? You mean like Octomom, or the Santelli flap, or the Limbaugh nonsense, all of which is being thoroughly slogged through, like, everywhere, and still manages to get on MSNBC? Really? And in addition:
I'm not going to spend part of a show, for fear of having to spend part of every show, explaining why I gate-kept on a particular story.
Except that ya ahre, Blanche. Ya ahre explaining why you gate-kept... I love K.O., but this time, I'm not buying it.
Cramer: Passing into the dustbin of cable history? Soon to have a new show on Air America after a couple of years doing pharmaceutical commercials? Or just a guy in search of a little love...?
After taking his ass-whupping like a man ... well, okay, like a really meek man ... Jim Cramer's problems just mount and mount, kind of like a bear market for derivatives! Not even the TOTAL STEWART BLACK-OUT on MSNBC today, ALL DAY, including Matthews, Olbermann and Maddow (can't you just see the memo from Jeff Immelt? "We will not be discussing the Daily Show incident on this network. Period." UPDATE: blackout confirmed by TVNewser....) could spare Cramer from the bad news:
The CEO of his webco, The Street.com, quit ... the company's stock price is down to about two candy bars a share ... and his "Mad Money" ratings have been down ever since Stewart first took him on. Not cute.
Meanwhile, per TVNewser, it seems the only one not participating in the Soviet style information black-out (WE DON'T MENTION IT, THEREFORE IT DIDN'T HAPPEN...) was Cramer himself, who had this to say at the top of tonight's "Mad":
Before we get started, I want to say something about -- about what happened yesterday. A lot of people are talking about what happened. I want to be very clear...that although I was clearly outside of my safety zone, I have the utmost respect for this person. And for the work that they do, no matter how uncomfortable it was to be on. So I want you to take a look at this clip from yesterday of Cramer versus Stewart.
Oh, wait ... he then played a clip from his appearance earlier yesterday on Martha Stewart's show. Oh, the hilarity! ... I stand corrected. Blackout was total, comrades. Das vidanya.
Mas: Can't get enough? Watch Jim Cramer get OWNED by Jon Stewart again, as if for the first time, here.
Meanwhile the NYT Opinionator blog picks up the back and forth Twittering between Joe Scarborough and the "elites" who don't get that the real point is that Cramer is sad because fellow Democrats are "turning on him..." Whatever, Joe.
For your viewing pleasure: the Chris Matthews Ari smackdown
Ari Fleischer (who apprently really is a douchebag, Jon Stewart!) and a charter member of the hilarious Bush Legacy Project, defends the Bush years, and declares it "shameful" to place 9/11 within the Bush years, when clearly he wasn't president until immediately afterward. Enjoy!
BTW the one thing Matthews didn't do, was point out to Ari that 1) the recession that Bush "inherited" began in the second quarter of 2001 -- after I'm pretty sure he was president. And the so-called "record job creation" Ari touted during Bush's term, which he said were the best EVER! ... were actually the third worst job creation numbers of all the presidents dating back to Harry Truman. Only Bush's father and Gerald Ford saw fewer jobs created on their watch. Payrolls expanded by about 3 million during Bush's two terms, or about 375,000 per year, which puts him DEAD LAST in the per year number versus all the presidents since Harry gave 'em hell. Here are the totals:
Truman - 8.4 million Eisenhower - 3.5 JFK - 3.6 LBJ - 11.9 Nixon - 9.4 Carter - 10.5 Reagan - 16.0 Bush I - 2.5 Clinton - 23.1 Dubya - 3.0
Forget the correction watch ... it ain't comin' ... but via a brief Jon Stewart clip tonight your intrepid blogger learned that our boy Dana Milbank, the quote-clippingest, context-changingest snarkporter in Washington, has resurfaced as a CNN commentator. Sez Dana about the whole "misquoted Obama and kicked off of Countdown" kerfuffle:
"The CNN contract was negotiated long before the Obama column," Milbank tells FishbowlDC. He says that there are "no hard feelings" although he takes exception to Olbermann's characterization of things on last night's program (more on that later here on FishbowlDC).
"It's just that CNN's a better fit for me and my philosophy of holding all parties to account," says Milbank. He will be a political analyist for CNN, mostly with Campbell Brown but "wherever they want me."
Ooh, oh no she didn't! Olbermann, please to respond...
Olbermann tells TVNewser:
Dana appeared with us the night before his column appeared with the truncated Obama quote — and did so under the terms of his contract which both he and MSNBC obviously considered still in force. After the column, he contacted us, joking he was glad I hadn't put him on the "Worst Persons" list, and then discussing with the producers coming on to clarify or explain what he wrote. Out of appreciation for his work for us, I had delayed a permanent decision on whether he should again appear on Countdown. Dana used this time to make another deal, which he told us about the day before he appeared on another network.
Wow, it gets ugly. But the fact remains, and is now CNN's to deal with, that Dana Milbank completely mischaracterized a statement that amounted to heresay, by one of the two major presidential candidates. Had he misquoted John McCain in that way, to quote the Creepy Grandpa, there would have been a seizmic event. But since it was Obama, no probs, including at CNN, which apparently will appreciate Dana "holding both sides (ahem) ... to account." BTW Dana's new gig is with Campbell Brown, who is currently getting her wig handed to her by pretty much everybody, at 8:00. Perhaps someone should bring it to Dana's attention.
BTW, just for a laugh, check out this Powerline Blog rant from 2003... The first sentence is interesting. Or this one. Apparently, NO ONE likes Dana Milbank!
Related: Washington Sketchy returns! With quotes! (Sure hope somebody checked them...) |
How far is Fox News willing to go to help John McCain become president? They're now pulling a stunt that would make the Fidel Castro regime proud: actually de-aging the wizened Republican candidate by using video from his 2000 campaign. Dan Abrams caught it, as Raw Story reports:
Over a "Beat the Press: Fox Anti-Aging Fix" graphic, Abrams urged, "Take a good look at the senator and the video they use." He then showed a clip in which Fox ran http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifvideo of a strangely youthful and vigorous-looking McCain at a campaign rally to accompany a story about McCain's current campaign schedule. However, the video also prominently features a sign reading "www.mccain2000.com," which at one point is even waved in front of McCain's face.
"Fox is actually using eight year old video to discuss today's activities," Abrams marveled. He concluded cheerfully, "They report -- you decide."
Good work, Fair and Balanced team! Hell, at this point, they're almost as helpful to Republicans as Nancy Pelosi!
It's way too late in the game to make mistakes, and I'd say the Obama campaign made a small one tonight, sending a Texas state senator into the MSNBC lion's den to be shelacked by Chris Matthews, who zinged him with a "gotcha" question about Obama's accomplishments in the Senate, as Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, flacking for Hillary, smirked on. The State Senator couldn't name said accomplishments, although afterward, Keith Olbermann reminded Matthews that no one could likely name an accomplishment by the entire congress at this stage.
"That's why it's called Hardball," retorted Chris, after demanding that the Senator name an accomplishment, "NOW!"
Bottom line, the clip will be Youtubed something awful by Camp Clinton tonight, and served to the Wolfson-cowed (still lying about the horse race) mainstream media, and to the right wing hit machine, tomorrow.
Update: The Texas State Senator in question, Kirk Watson, crawls out from under a rock to tell his constituents that yes, he lost his game of "stump the chump" with Christopher Matthews.
Update 2: Here, go ahead. Relive Kirk Watson's shame...
MSNBC owes Barack Obama an apology. On "Hardball" just a few minutes ago, Chris Matthews went through his set-up, talking about the Clinton campaign ginned-up "controversy" over Barack Obama's alleged borrowing of Deval Patrick's rhetoric, and with an interesting image appearing over his left shoulder.
No, not this one...
What gives, MSNBC? Did some junior associate producer grab the wrong picture filed starting with an "O" or have you guys been watching too much Fox Noise...?
It's reminiscent of another interesting moment on MSNBC, a couple of years ago when Niger Innes, that's N-I-G-E-R ... appeared on a morning news program ... to interesting chyron results.
Video to come shortly.
Update 5:30 - Apology issued on-air. video still to come shortly.
George W. Bush may want to pass on being Keith Olbermann's valentine. The MSNBC host (who today admitted a "deep and abiding affection for the Clintons" -- the right wing will have a field day with that one ...) called George W. Bush a liar, a fascist and a terrorist, all in one Special Comment -- and he called the Republicans in Congress crash test dummies. In short: I heart Olbermann. Enjoy.
I caught Chris Matthews typically blunt performance on Morning Joe this morning, and thought that, this time, the all-time number one Clinton Hater had it about right. In the wake of the Get Shuster campaign (otherwise known as Pimpgate,) the Clintons showed a disturbing tendency to try and intimidate the press, something we've come to expect from George W. Bush, but which looks really bad on a Democrat. The Huffpo's Sam Stein caught it too:
"What she has to do is get rid of the kneecapers that work for her, these press people whose main job seems to be punishing Obama or going after the press, to building a positive case for her," said Matthews. "Her campaign slogan right now is don't get your hopes up. That won't work in America. You can't diminish Obama and hope that you will rise from the ashes."
Asked why he believed Clinton had gone negative, Matthews again struck an antagonistic chord about the campaign's media operation.
"The kneecapping hasn't worked. Her press relations are lousy," he said. "If all you do is intimidate and punish and claim you'll get even relentlessly, people of all kinds of politicians -- and in all fairness, the press -- human reaction to intimidation is screw you. That's the human reaction. Don't tell me what to say, and that has been their whole policy. We're going to win this thing. Get out of the way."
During the same segment, my man Pat Buchanan counseled Hillary to "go negative or go home," to which Matthews countered, people don't vote for negative; they don't vote against optimism. He's right. Hillary's campaign has to strike a more positive, uplifting tone if she hopes to dig her way out of the hole. That said, I'm not sure she can dig her way out of the hole, and if the buzz that her camp is willing to screw the popular vote AND the pledged delegate count and try to win it in the brokerage rooms at the convention, then she has a very rude awakening coming. If she wins this thing in any way other than by getting more votes, she will lose sufficient support to guarantee the presidency to John McCain.
By the way, David Shuster's return now has a date attached: February 22nd, at which time he will have served a suspension of two weeks.
Finally, some cojones on the part of GE-NBC. They will not bow to the nattering nellies of NOW, nor to the intimidation tactics of Camp Clinton (who WILL attend that debate on Feb 26 thank you ... Hil needs the free media...) by firing David Shuster.
NBC insiders have told Greg Sergent of TPM that he will be back in short order (if by short order you mean after the debate) ... and I'm sure, he will be chastened...
Why has Shuster become the target of so much acrimony? Isn't this the guy who famously quit Fox News and then told the world exactly who they are?
The feminist brigade can't seriously believe that David Shuster is the worst of the worst -- on some Don Imus level of daily cruelty and abuse (and the former was doing it to be funny ...) What they clearly believe is that this story is helping Hillary among her base -- white women -- and that they will respond to it in such a way as to get her back in contention at the polls.
That calculation is cynical, highly political, and about as disengenuous as it is savvy. At the end of the day, Shustergate will probably help Hillary get her vote out, but it won't win her friends in the centrist end of the blogosphere...
Emily's List, the powerful womens' political group headed by Ellen Malcolm (co-founder of the 527 I used to work for, America Coming Together, and who I have said is in large part responsible for Hillary Clintons victories in New Hampshire and Florida,) has waded into what can now official be called Chelseagate (or Shustergate ... or maybe pimpgate...) demanding that MSNBC take unspecified, but immediate "action" to rectify their "misogynistic" attitudes toward women. MSNBC's David Shuster has already apologized ... twice, and been temporarily suspended. MSNBC has apologized, too... Apparently, that's not enough for Emily 'n dem.
[Sidebar: At least, not while there's still a chance Hil can win Maine with a little help from the woman vote...]
Now, let me just say that MSNBC is hardly Fox News (where Hillary Clinton may, ironically be more willing to attend a debate than NBC, considered by the right to be a bastion of liberal propaganda...) and the attempts by some bloggers to characterize Shuster as some sort of shill for the right are evidence only of the fact that those folks clearly don't watch the network.
Having worked for NBC News, I can tell you they are as PC as it gets. Sure, they make mistakes (I attended a meeting of Black employees while I worked at the local station in Miami, where we discussed with the then general manager what we saw as a pattern of racially stereotypical depictions of Blacks in the newscasts, and the lack of representation of African-Americans in the decision-making functions in the newsroom...) but to try and depict MSNBC as to women what Fox is to Democrats is a stretch, to say the least. Worse, the idea that David Shuster is some sort of Bill O'Reillyesque figure because he made one slangish comment about Chelsea Clinton (who is 27 by the way, not 12, as she was when Rush Limbaugh and company lampooned her looks...) is ... well ... kind of stupid, and femist reactionary ... which is why I don't listen to feminists ... at all.
My advice to the ladies of NOW and Emily's List, and Hillary's other supporters of the female and/or liberal persuasion is this: get your panties out of a twist. David Shuster is a fine reporter, a smart guy, and sorry, Ellen, but also one of the good guys, fighting the good fight against the unexpurgated crap coming out of the White House. To try and run a Don Imus on him -- if in fact the "strong action" Emily's List wants is for him to be fired -- is a scorched earth response worthy of, well, the Clintons. And that's the problem. The Clintons are always at war. They seem to be more comfortable when in combat with some political or media enemy. But war is clearly not what a sizable portion of the electorate wants.
A lot of folks, including those of us who have been Clinton Democrats since 1992, want something different.
So stop pimping the Chelsea Clinton story for political gain and free media coverage and tell your candidate to go do that debate. Um ... you're not gonna demand swift action against me for that ... are ya...?
Update: Politico has more background on Camp Hillary's attack on bunker MSNBC, including David Shuster's initial self-defense (by email -- hot copy alert!!!) And at least some people inside NBC News are calling the network cowardly for caving to the Hillbots. Didn't I tell you earlier that NBC folks are PC and risk averse to a fault? Look how quickly they caved on Imus?
...one high-level NBC source told Politico that apologizing was an act of cowardice on behalf of the network.
"This is at least the second time they've caved to the Hillary Clinton campaign," a source told Politico, referring to Chris Matthews' recent apology over remarks he recently made about Clinton that were widely denounced as sexist. "What does this do to journalism?"
Next they'll be sending Russert over to Chappaqua with a fruit basket...
The cable chat media, led by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (backed by his seconds, Chuck Todd and Howard Fineman), and their friends in the print press, have a message for the non-Clinton Democratic candidates: "Bring me the head of that Clinton woman!"
Matthews and company are desperately casting around, offering beligerent free advice to Barack Obama: ATTACK HILLARY NOW! Why are they so certain that Barack must quit to professorial schtick and lop off Hil's head? Becauase John Edwards, for all his shrillness, isn't getting the job done. And for the mainstream media hit squad that tried with all its might, but failed to take down President Bill Clinton over that phony scandal with a chubby, horny intern, the job must get done.
Matthews in particular seems bent on justifying his near decade of obsession with the Clintons' sex life, and his spittle-mouthed, high horsed jihad against the former president back in the bad old days of 1998, when the right wing Congress and their bounty hunter, Ken "show me the panties" Starr, sought to undo the results of two elections by hounding a sitting president out of office for doing what just about every president before him has done: cheat on his wife. (Just a guess, they probably all lied about it, too.)
And now that Hillary Clinton seems to be running away with the Democratic nomination for president, she... must ... be ... stopped. And if the media can't do it themselves (too obvious) then Barack had damned well better start the shelling.
If he doesn't, the media bete noires say, he's toast. He can't beat her if he doesn't beat her. The desperation to see a bar room brawl is so thick that yesterday on "Hardball," Pat Buchanan, who usually holds it together a lot better on "the race thing," at least on TV, actually mused that Obama "sure doesn't come off like a Black guy from the south side of Chicago." Huh? What's he supposed to do to Mrs. Clinton? Smack that ass and call her a "ho?"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, there's no competing narrative demanding why Mitt Romney doesn't mount a real, full throated attack against Rudy Giuliani, the front runner for the GOP nod. The assumption is that there is so much to attack with Hillary, but with Rudy? Not so much. I mean, he's "America's mayor" after all -- what's there to attack? The media insists that the only thing worth attacking Rudy for is his apostasy on social values issues -- gay marriage and abortion. Beyond that, Matthews and Co. can't imagine anything, by golly by gosh, that Mitt or Huck or Fred could possibly want to bash Mr. 9/11 for...
Honestly, with the exception of David Shuster and of course, Keith Olbermann, it's almost as if the powdered men of the MSM have formed a Jim Jones-like cult whose ritual chant is an incantation to burn Hillary in the fires of hell. ... and her cheating but still getting love from his wife, still more popular than any of the TV talking heads, and more manly to boot hubby, too. (Haters.)
Anyhoo, the Dems will attempt to live up to the Mathews brawl-o-meter tonight, if Barack and his team are that easily hypnotized (earth to Barack, look how well nasty attacks have worked for John Edwards!) The debate will be moderated by the almost rhythmically bland Brian Williams and the Roger Ailes golf buddy posing as an objective journalist, Tim Russert.
The Democratic debate tonight on MSNBC, sponsored by the AFL-CIO, is a wrap. It was by far the most contentious, combative debate so far, and the leading candidates ripped into each other in a way that was almost uncomfortable to watch. Barack took incoming fire from Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on his comments about invading Pakistan. Hillary took flak from Edwards about being on the cover of Forbes Magazine as the candidate that corporate America is betting on, but she gave it right back, declaring herself the candidate who can win, and who has a history of taking on the wingers. In a nutshell, here's my quick assessment, in order of how well I think they did:
Hillary Clinton - I think she won it again, even though she lost the battle for the crowd with Barack, who had home field advantage. Hillary came off as strong, and as the one on the receiving end, rather than the battering end, of Dem on Dem attacks. Hil needs to watch her upper register when she gets loud to shout over the crowd, but overall, this tiny lady again distinguished herself as the most succinct, the most savvy, the most competent, and the most prepared to be president on the day she enters office.
Joe Biden - Another strong performance. This guy has knowledge to spare, particularly on matters of foreign policy. He did well tonight, even infusing some humor into the debate, i.e., his one word answer to the question of whether he would end no-bid contracts ("Yes.") ... and when he showed a softer side by sympathizing with a woman who lost her husband in the Sago mine, by referring to his own loss of a spouse. This guy would make a hell of a secretary of state.
Barack Obama - I thought he came off as strident, almost to the point of nasty tonight, and far too prone to Democratic fratricide in his quest to topple Hillary Clinton. His constant slaps at Hillary, Dodd and other "Washington insiders" who voted for the war is what he has to do (though they might remind him that since taking office, he has repeatedly voted for the funding of the war,) and he had the hometown crowd in the palm of his hand. But at the end of the day, Chris Dodd was right when he said that Barack was in the wrong for telegraphing his Pakistan policy to the world. Hillary is right on substance, but Barack won the crowd. At the end of the day, when the glow wears off, Hillary will be seen as the more presidential on foreign policy.
Chris Dodd - He's a bit dull, but was good on substance tonight. He still has an image problem, and no shot at being president, but he did well. One caveat: he was one of the worst at not directly answering the questions.
Bill Richardson - Richardson is as dull as dishwater, and he failed to distinguish himself in any way tonight. This guy's timer should have long since run out, but he's still in play, frankly, because Democrats still believe they may have to play the Latino card to win out West.
John Edwards - Edwards probably had the worst performance of the night. He is coming off as increasingly desperate in these contests, flailing out at Hillary's corporate ties (despite being a rich trial lawyer himself), trying to sting his opponents on the war, as if he never voted for it, and pushing his one liner about not taking lobbyist money even when the question was about healthcare. Not a good show, John.
Dennis Kucinich - This guy is a Socialist, pure and simple. He wants to put us all on Medicare, which is insane, he wants to turn the White House into the "workers White House," which sounds suspiciously like "Socialist paradise," and he claims he'd cancel NAFTA and the WTO agreement immediately upon entering office. He sure is animated, though, and I'd have rated him higher than Edwards had he not sounded so insane.
At the end of the day, Barack will probably win the Internet polls, but Hillary will be ahead by another 2 points by week's end.
Wow. "Hardball" stand-in David Shuster just bitch slapped Iraq war-o-phile and Scooter Libby defender Fouad Ajami over the latter's ridiculous comparison of Scootie-pie to the U.S. troops fighting, dying, bleeding, losing limbs and coming home permantly disabled from the war in Iraq. It was a thing of beauty, as Shuster cut up every lame argument Adjani tried to make, then brought in Paul Reikhoff to tag team the squirmy little weasel from the troops' point of view. After that, Shuster utterly dismantled that kook Dan Burton who tried so hard to take down President Clinton, but apparently hasn't learned the difference between an acquittal on perjury and obstruction and a conviction. The poor old cooter seems to still be salivating for the blood of Bill, but he can't wrap his addled mind around Libby's having been found guilty, but not punished for his criminal behavior. What a show. What a couple of maroons! Damn. Chris Matthews had better watch his back. There's a new big dog at MSNBC.... The video is here or get the link here. I'll post the transcript as soon as it's available. It's a thing of beauty...
For more classic Shuster smack-down, check out Youtube... first victim: Libby pal Tucker Carlson.
By the way, to understand why so many people are outraged by Ajami's idiocy, here's the crux of what he wrote in the Wall Street Journal last month:
In "The Soldier's Creed," there is a particularly compelling principle: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." This is a cherished belief, and it has been so since soldiers and chroniclers and philosophers thought about wars and great, common endeavors. Across time and space, cultures, each in its own way, have given voice to this most basic of beliefs. They have done it, we know, to give heart to those who embark on a common mission, to give them confidence that they will not be given up under duress. A process that yields up Scooter Libby to a zealous prosecutor is justice gone awry.
So Scooter is akin to our troops fighting in Iraq? Really? I hope Mr. Ajami doesn't really believe that, because such a belief is an insult not only to the troops in Iraq, but to anyone who has ever worn the uniform, which, by the way, includes neither Libby nor the boss he nearly went to prison to protect. Just thought I'd mention that. Oh, and by the by, in addition to being a recalcitrant and rather delusional neocon, Ajami is a Lebanese Shiite, which would make him likely quite pleased with the new government of Iraq, such as it is.
Ajami also wrote this:
This case has been, from the start, about the Iraq war and its legitimacy. Judge Walton came to it late; before him were laid bare the technical and narrowly legalistic matters of it. But you possess a greater knowledge of this case, a keen sense of the man caught up in this storm, and of the great contest and tensions that swirl around the Iraq war. To Scooter's detractors, and yours, it was the "sin" of that devoted public servant that he believed in the nobility of this war, that he did not trim his sails, and that he didn't duck when the war lost its luster.
Funny ... I thought it was about the outing of a covert CIA operative by her own government. Funny, that.
I think it's hard to come away from tonight's GOP debate with any other conclusion but that Mitt Romney emerged as the strongest, most articulate and confident candidate on the stage. Coupled with his impressive fundraising (with the caveat that most of it was from Utah, so he'll have to broaden that out), I think Romney should, all other things being equal, get the biggest bounce from the debate. (Gilmore did well, too, but he lacks the charisma that Romney has.)
I think it's also clear that Rudy Giuliani failed to live up to expectations. He was flat, emphasized at least three times his pro-choice stance on abortion, repeated his New York City record so many times it became annoying, and made a point of tagging himself as the guy who can work with Democrats -- not a good look in a primary fueled by people who loathe Democrats.
Going into tonight, Giuliani was already losing momentum in the polls. I wouldn't be suprised if he continues to drift downward. Going in, Quinnipiac had his lead down significantly:
27% said they support Giuliani, down from 40% who said than in early February.
14% said they support Thompson, who wasn't included in the February survey.
19% said they support Sen. John McCain, vs. 18% in February.
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were tied for third. Each had the support of 8%.
McCain came off a bit desperate for me, like an old man trying really, really hard to sound young and tough. I don't think he hurt himself, but I don't think he helped himself either.
Outside the top tier, I think the most interesting person on stage was clearly Ron Paul. He'll probably enjoy a brief love affair with Democrats who will then be let down terribly when they find out exactly what a Libertarian thinks. Next to Paul, who upheld good old fashioned Goldwater Republican values quite well, I think Governor Jim Gilmore came off as the most impressive, from a policy standpoint. He will probably get a serious look as a secretary of state, no matter who wins the White House. Gilmore is now in the spin room saying that to his mind, neither Giuliani nor McCain are true conservatives, and Rudy, says Gilmore, hasn't represented himself as such.
Chris is now justifying his Hillary and Bill question, saying he thinks it would be the unifying principle of the GOP in the presidential campaign. But the answer elevated Hillary on the Democratic side, which has to piss of her Democratic rivals. None of the respondents took Chris' bait and attacked Bill. They all went after Hillary. I'll repeat my statement that the question was a waste of time, and an indulgence of Chris' Clinton hating fetish at the expense of serious voters who wanted to hear about issues tonight.
No surprise, Chris began by pitching Rudy a softball, asking how we get this country back to Reagan's "morning in America." Rudy stuffed in as much conservative boilerplate as he could.
McCain came out of the blocks charging on Iraq, taking on Harry Reid on his statement that the war is lost.
Tommy Thompson says the Iraqis should be required to vote if they want us in their countries, and if they vote no, we get out. He also suggests dividing Iraq into the 50 states of Iraq, split the oil reserves between federal, state and individual Iraqis.
Hunter: Bush boilerplate: "the key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military."
To Romney, Politico's reporter asks why Americans shouldn't have a president who'll listen to them on Iraq. Romney says if we want a president who governs by polls, "we can just plug in the TVs and have them govern the country." Romney says he wants to get the troops out, but in a way that's not precipitous, and doesn't cause larger chaos. Initial impression: Romney seems very prepared, very polished, very smooth. That he has going for him.
Brownback: Chris asks him about polls showing increasing hostility in the Arab world against the U.S. Brownback: "I think we win the war by standing up for our values." Then he goes into how many people are really with us. Okay, tuning him out now... This guy is Bush lite...
Update 1: Least presidential so far: Tom Tancredo. He just hummed and hawed his way through an answer about what he would do if Israel said it would be attacking Iran soon.
Giuliani, meanwhile, has used the words Ronald Reagan in each of his answers.
Ron Paul is making the most sense, having said that non-intervention is both an American and a traditional Republican principle. Note he didn't say "practice," because that isn't true.
Most coherent so far: Jim Gilmore. He has made the point twice now that America must re-exert leadership around the world, by working with our allies. He just said "we can't allow a situation where people from Morocco to the Phillippines don't believe America has their best interests at heart. ... We have to represent the aspirations of people of good faith."
Most blow-dried: Romney.
Least interesting so far: Giuliani.
That's the end of the first round.
Now, the interactive round. McCain is asked if he would be comfortable with Tom Tancredo as the head of the INS. McCain's answer: "in a word, no." Then he zigged back to tracking Bin Laden, saying "I'd follow him to the gates of hell..."
McCain now asks a patented pander question. Should we change the Constitution to allow foreign born citizens like Arnold Schwarzenegger the chance to run for president. So far, it's all no's. Tommy Thompson says yes, after he serves his eight years. McCain said he'd consider it if Ahnold endorses him. Giuliani gave an odd answer about being afraid to say no to him, so yes.
Giuliani is asked if he learned or regretted anything about his tenure in NYC regarding race. So far, Giuliani says he learned much and regretted much, but that he worked hard to reduce crime, move people out of welfare, etc. Says "moved 660,000 people off welfare and that's the reason crime is down."
Romney is asked what he dislikes most about America. Romney played it like a job candidate, turning it around to how great America is. And he got in a kiss up to Nancy Reagan. I'm telling you, this guy is a used car salesman.
Huckabee gets a question from Boca about global warming. I find myself looking at the way Huckabee's suit fits ... sorry, back to his answer. He says God says we must be good stewards of the earth. Didn't really answer the question though.
Tancredo is asked about selling organs for transplants. Huh?
Duncan Hunter just answered a question about whether he's a compassionate conservative like George W. Bush with a yes, and a call for the U.S. to take military action against Iran.
Ron Paul says if he was president, he would abolish the IRS,
Next up: values.
Update 2: Would repeal of Roe be a good day for America? Yesses all the way around, except for Rudy, who says "it would be okay." He adds that "if a court ruled that it was precedent, that would be okay too." Tancredo goes one further, saying it would be "the greatest day." Gilmore says that his convictions on abortion 'have never changed throughout his public life. He then adds his record in VA about passing parental notification and 24 hour waiting period."
Thompson says Roe should be up to the states. First impression: Thompson is very, very boring.
Romney is called on the carpet for being "always for life" and "always pro-choice." Romney says he ran on a platform of upholding the law as is, though he is "personally pro life" and that he changed his mind on the road to Damascus ... er, stem cell research. Politically convenient, Mitt? He says cloning convinced him that "we have gone too far."
Brownback: could you support a nominee who is not pro-life? Brownback says yes, because the GOP is a 'big coalition party.' That might not have been the right answer for his base.
Giuliani gets a second shot, courtesy of his friend kiss, I mean Chris. Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion? Giuliani says "I don't. I support the Hyde amendment." In other words, it's up to each state. Chris gets out of him that he supported public funding for abortions in New York. I think that's Giuliani's second mistake tonight. His drawn out answer on abortion was mistake 1.
McCain's line of the night: "I may not be the youngest candidate up here, but I'm the most prepared." The question was about every cab driver knowing what Reagan stood for. "I don't want to be president of a failed nation, or a sad nation or a nation that thinks our best years are behind us. I want to be president of a proud nation."
Hunter jumps in saying me too on having and armed services background. You know what Duncan Hunter reminds me of? A mean school principal.
Huckabee has given us our second "city on a hill" reference. "We are a great nation because we are a culture of life. We celebrate life." We go search for people lost on Mount Hood, etc.
How to reconcile this moral leadership role of conservatism with libertarian, Goldwater conservatism, Ron Paul? "if the goal of government is to be the policeman of the world, you lose liberty. If the goal of government is liberty you unite people." ... "the moral principle is that of protecting liberty."
Thompson is asked whther an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker. Thompson says it should be up to the employer. In other words, yes.
Romney is asked what he'd say to Roman Catholic bishops who would deny communion to a politician who supports abortion rights. Romney: "I wouldn't say anything to a Catholic bishop. They can do anything they want." This was Romney's opening to say we don't choose leaders based on their faith, and he seized it. Again, very smooth.
Huckabee is called on whether he criticizes Romney's saying his faith wouldn't affect his decision making. Huckabee says his faith does inform his politics.
Update 3: Governor Gilmore is asked by Chris if he would employ Karl Rove, whom he knows. Gilmore's answer was a good one: "what's important is not Karl Rove. What's important is how this government is run." Gilmore gets in the line that he's a "consistent conservative." Tancredo says Karl Rove would certainly not be in his White House, mainly because of their differences on immigration.
Chris asks Rudy if the influx of Christian conservatives has been good for the GOP. He says yes, then parries to say that neither party has a lock on virtue or vice, and that we have to bring in Democrats and Independents. He's reading his record again. Is saying we need to reach out to Democrats a good move in a primary debate? I think not. If it is in a mistake, Thompson just made it too. And he added that Republicans went wrong by going to Wahington to change it, but being changed by it. And he just gave us another Reagan big-up.
Brownback is asked about corruption and goes right to the one Democrat involved. Now he's saying we need to build stronger families and a stronger culture. Oh, here comes the conservative nanny state. Brownback just played the Imus card and said we've got music being sold with the same words. Sound like he's running for vice cop.
Tancredo on the same questions says the corruption thing is about individuals, not the party. Now he's going off track. He says regarding whether a centrist is the only way to go in order to win, Tancredo reminds that Reagan was no centrist and won California twice.
McCain is asked about the shots he took at Giuliani regarding incompetence and first responders. McCain says he was talking about special interests, not New York City. He immediately left that topic to say the GOP went off track by spending too much. Interesting that he didn't want to take that bait.
Jim Vandehei asks McCain what specific programs he'd cut. McCain says yes to the line item veto, yes to reducing costs for military spending cost overruns. No programs yet, but he says each unnamed program should justify its existence every year.
Huckabee asked to give the Bush administration a grade on its handling of the war. He says it's too early to give a grade.
Giuliani is put back in the spotlight on abortion. He says he "hates" abortion, encouraged adoption as mayor of New York City, but says "since it's an issue of conscience," he would "support a woman's right to make a different choice."
Thompson is asked if racism is still a problem in our society and can a president do anything about it. Thompson says a president has to unite, Ronald Reagan was a uniter...
Tancredo is asked beside himself, who should be the nominee. Tancredo says if he thought there should be another one, he wouldn't be there. Tancredo is stumbling around verbally, but he's sticking to his talking points on illegal immigration, plugging them into all of his answers.
McCain is now defending he and the president's plan on immigration, saying we must secure our borders but we also need a guest worker program and a plan to sort out the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Duncan Hunter says he hasn't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" but he sees the issue of global warming as an opportunity and challenge to remove energy dependence on the Middle East and create new technologies. Good answer.
Gilmore was asked about mothers behind bars. He says the law must be applied, but he got in a plug for himself as governor during the 9/11 attacks.
Down the line: Nancy Reagan wants the government to expand embryonic stem cell research. Are you for it? Romney says no, Browanback: only adult stem cells. Gilmore: no. Huckabee: no. Hunter: no. Thompson: can't answer yes or no, there's so much research that will allow adult stem cells to do. McCain thanks Nancy Reagan for her kindness to him and other POWs. He says we need to fund this research, because these embryos will be discarded or perpetual funding. That's a yes. Paul: programs like this are not authorized under the Constitution. Let the markets and states handle it. Giuliani: if no creation of embryos created for that purpose, then yes. Tancredo: no.
Romney called on not touting his version of Hillary care. His answer: "I love it! It's affordable and portable. We won it 198 to 2. It's bipartisan!" I'm telling you, this guy should sell cars.
To all: name a tax you'd like to cut Romney - zero tax on capital gains Brownbax - alternative flat tax Gilmore - I eliminated the car tax in VA. Current tax: the AMT Huckabee - pass the "Fair Tax", get rid of the IRS, all capital gains taxes, etc. Hunter - trade deals suck. we need to eliminate all taxes on manufacturing Thompson - Alternative Minimum Tax. let's have a flat tax choice McCain - give the president the line item veto, repeal the AMT. Give tax credit to purchase health insurance (sounds like Bush), flatter Fair Tax Paul - get rid of the IRS, dump these entitlement programs and foreign adventures. Get rid of the "inflation tax" with sound money Giuliani - get rid of the AMT, the "death tax", and make the Bush tax cuts permanent. "Regularize the rates" whatever that means Tancredo - Repeal the 16th Amendment. And you can veto all the spending you want and you won't touch the deficit until you deal with mandatory spending.
McCain is asked what Democrats he's appoint, besides Joe Lieberman. He can't name one that's elected. Okay, he just named a businessman named John Chambers. McCain is running in the general election already, not the primary.
Update 4 - lightning round: Hunter is asked what the government does
McCain: believes in evolution. Anyone who doesn't? Tancredo, Brownback and Huckabee raised their hands (though Tancredo seemed to be looking to see who else would first.)
Romney wouldn't carry any of Bush's cabinet over.
Giuliani is quizzed on Sunni vs. Shia Islam. He looked like he was trying to remember it from his debate prep.
Gilmore declines to uphold his previous statement about being the only conservative in the pack.
Ron Paul trusts the Internet more than the mainstream media.
Giuliani is asked what is his biggest weakness is. His quip that it's "the fact that they're not all endorsing me" fell absolutely flat. Instead of answering the question, he reracked his New York City record yet again, and threw in a gratuitous Reagan.
Sidebar: I'm struck at how much alike these guys look. Very different from the multiethnic, multi-sex Democrat debate...
Thompson is asked how many Americans have been killed and injured in Iraq. His answer was "over three thousand killed and several thousand injured." Not too specific.
Giuliani says he's for a "tamper proof national I.D. card" -- oh, lord, he's back to talking about crime in New York again. He wants every American in a database. Please, God, let Ron Paul answer that. Romney is for the national I.D. card, too. He just got in a USOC plug. Brownback is against a national I.D. card. He says secure the border with a fence, and make the Social Security number mean something. "We don't need a new system." McCain says he's for a national I.D. card. Dr. Paul finally gets his chance. "This a total contradiction of what a free society is all about. The purpose of government is to protect the secrecy and privacy of Americans." Tancredo agrees. Clarification: Romney and Giuliani say their card is only for immigrants.
To all: Pardon Scooter Libby? Romney: candidates shouldn't make that decision, but outrageous for prosecutor to go after Libby knowing he wasn't the leaker. Brownback: it's up to the president. Gilmore: president should go to the American people to make the case if he wants to do it. Anyone for pardoning Libby? Tancredo says yes, but pardon Ramos and Campeon, the two border patrolmen (he gets the Lou Dobbs vote.) Paul points out that Libby was part of the misinformation that got us into the war. Good going, Ron.
Now, to the Schiavo case. Should Congress have acted or let the family make the decision? Romney: Congress' intervention was a mistake. Leave it at the state level. Brownback: Congress was right. Stand for life. McCain: difficult issue, all of us were moved, but in retrospect, we were too hasty. Giuliani: that's what we have courts for. Not a good answer for a GOP primary, where they distrust the courts...
Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back in the White House.
Romney: "You've got to be kidding..." Brownback says "no" because Hillary's not pro-life. Gilmore: no. McCain got in a shot about activist judges. Matthews couldn't resist the opportunity to give these guys a chance to Clinton bash. What an asshole.
I have half a mind to turn this off at this point.
Anyway, the next question from the GOP lackey from MSNBC is how the candidates would differ from Dubya. Romney says he respects Bush but would change the way we operate at home and abroad. McCain would manage the war better and cut spending. Gilmore: we need to be vigorous on the GWOT, draw the world in, improve homeland security, and energy independence. Huckabee: more power to the states. Hunter: bring back our industrial base, enforce trade laws. Brownback: break up Iraq, push a political solution there. Tancredo: Bush has done many good things, but on No Child Left Behind and prescription drugs, he overreached, and on Iraq... he ran out of time. Thompson: change healthcare system, settle Iraq, better foreign relations. Giuliani: oh, lord, remind ourselves every day about 9/11. Paul: change foreign policy, protect privacy of Americans, caution on warrantless searches and never abuse habeas corpus.
Overall score: C. Not much excitement. No headlines. Romney looked good, and smooth. I can see why the establishment favors him. He'll either be received as a liberator, or written off as far too slick -- the candidate you build from a kit. If Gilmore was smoother, he'd probably have won the debate on substance. McCain came off very forced. Tommy Thompson looked like he should be working on his papers and research in a basement somewhere -rumpled fellow, that. Giuliani didn't come off well, in my opinion, and he didn't appear strong or presidential, and he fumbled the ball on the abortion question. Ron Paul impressed me, I have to say. Too bad he has no shot at getting further media coverage. Duncan Hunter wasn't as nutty as I expected, and Tancredo seemed nervous and a bit shaky. Huckabee made very little impression on me, and Brownback came off as a religious nutter.
Was it just me, or was it kind of weird the way Politico's John Harris kept rolling up on the candidaes when he asked them a question...? Sorry, total sidebar...
So who was the winner? I think it's clear: Ronald Reagan. He got the most props tonight, along with his wife, and he was the man everyone up there wanted to be (sorry, George.)
The big loser? Chris Matthews. His chopping off of the second tier candidates and largesse toward his favorites was embarassing. And the fact that he wasted the audience's time on questions about Bill Clinton -- as if anyone on the stage would dispute that his wife shouldn't be president -- was a disservice to the voters who care about this race. Next time, MSNBC should give the job to Brian Williams, or even Tim Russert. Chris really was a let down tonight.
The Reidblog handy dandy guide to the first GOP presidential debate
The GOPers debate tonight, (and in so doing, they attempt to find their souls...) so in case you're not in the know, let's handicap the ten declared candidates, shall we? Here we go:
1. Rudy Giuliani Best known for saying, after 9/11, that the first thing he did after the attacks leveled the buildings where he had moved the command centers for the police and fire departments right after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was to turn to his crimie Bernard Kerik and say, "thank God George Bush and Dick Cheney are in the White House." Likes: gun control, wearing frilly dresses, gay civil unions (unless he's campaigning in the South) and public funding for abortion (see previous "like"). Dislikes: wives (once he finds a better one). Southern strategy: publicize the fact that he was once married to his cousin.
2. John McCain Also known as "Baghdad Johnnie". Best known for taking a stroll through an Iraqi market with 100 of his closest military friends, 2 Apache helicopters, 2 Blackhawk helicopters
3. Mitt Romney Best known for: Running the U.S. Olympic Committee, being a Mormon, and yet, having only one wife, and for looking exactly like Guy Smiley...
4. Sam Brownback Dubbed “God’s Senator” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. Voted NO on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program to put more police officers on the street. And says Stare decisis would have upheld separate-but-equal! What would Jesus do, indeed.
5. Mike Huckabee Former governor of Arkansas. Most famous for: losing a busload of weight (over 110 pounds). Biggest problem for the GOP: as governor, he raised taxes, a big no-no.
6. Duncan Hunter Most famous for: promoting the Gitmo diet, and saying that the food at the Guantanamo detention facility is to die for! Perhaps no one briefed the California congressman about the suicides...
7. Tom Tancredo Most famous for: calling Miami a Third World country. Southern strategy: don't campaign in Miami.
8. Tommy Thompson Former governor of Wisconsin and Bush's onetime Health and Human Services secretary. As secretary, he helped create Bush's stem cell research compromise, which legalized federal funding for the use of ... well ... compromised, old and mainly useless stem cell lines for research. Researchers, were mostly not interested.
9. Jim Gilmore Former governor of Virginia during the Clinton era, and was governor during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Stole Howard Dean's line by saying he represents "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." Negatives: not many. Biggest problem: no one outside of Virginia knows who he is.
10. Ron Paul 10-term Congressman, medical doctor (M.D.) and two-time and current presidential candidate from the U.S. state of Texas. Wants to abolish both Social Security and the Federal Reserve. Chances of becoming president: 0. Look for him to be the Mike Gravel of tonight's debates.