Wash Post’s Milbank Compares Obama Team to the North Vietnamese?

During Tuesday evening’s “No Bias, No Bull” program, Washington Post national political correspondent and CNN contributor Dana Milbank implied, perhaps inadvertently, that the incoming Obama adminstration was like the North Vietnamese advancing on Saigon in 1975. Host Campbell Brown asked Milbank about the “backlog of at least 2,000 pardon applications” to the Bush administration before the president leaves office early next year, and he replied, “Yeah -- it sort of has the feeling of the last helicopter off the embassy roof in Saigon.” [audio available here]

Milibank made the remark during his regular “Political Daily Briefing” feature, which aired at the bottom half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Earlier in the segment, the Post correspondent, as well as Brown, commented on Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman keeping his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Brown stated that “despite supporting John McCain, despite saying some pretty nasty things about Barack Obama on the campaign trail, Senator Joe Lieberman is going to keep his coveted chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.” Milbank agreed with this labeling of some of Lieberman’s past statements about Obama in his reply: “It’s amazing -- looks like a full amnesty for Joe Lieberman. He said some awful things about President-Elect Obama, and now he gets -- I don’t think you could even really call it a slap on the wrist there...”

After playing a clip of Lieberman’s “very carefully-hedged mea culpa” to the Democrats, Milbank injected some commentary in response to this affair: “Well, the Democrats may look a little bit wimpy for their behavior here, but fortunately for them, the Republicans are looking no better. They met today to decide whether to kick out Ted Stevens over his felony conviction, to decide -- you know what? Let's take this up again in a couple of days.” Brown then exclaimed her reaction to the Stevens development before moving on to the presidential pardon issue: “God, it’s so cynical -- every vote counts.”

The full transcript of Milbank’s segment from Tuesday’s “No Bias, No Bull” program:

CAMPBELL BROWN: Time now for our PDB, the ‘Political Daily Briefing’ with CNN contributor Dana Milbank, national political correspondent for the Washington Post. And, Dana, after nearly two years on the campaign trail, John McCain returned to his day job today. Tell us about it.

Dana Milbank, Washington Post Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgDANA MILBANK: You know, there’s a gracious way to lose, Campbell, and then there’s then an ugly way to lose, and John McCain is pursuing the gracious way -- sort of a lovely concession speech, goes out to Chicago to see Obama, and then returns with no fanfare at all to Washington today.

Now on the flip side of that, you’ve got Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican out of Colorado. She lost her re-election bid by 12 points. It’s two weeks later now -- still hasn’t called to concede or even acknowledge that she lost the race. But I think it’s not too late. As a public service to her tonight, let’s give her the number. It's 202-224-3121. That’s the Capitol switchboard. Ask for Congresswoman-elect Betsy Markey.

BROWN: Twelve points and she's still hanging on? You got to give her a little credit for that.

MILBANK: She’s keeping hope alive.

BROWN: Today, also, Dana, it became official, but despite supporting John McCain, despite saying some pretty nasty things about Barack Obama on the campaign trail, Senator Joe Lieberman is going to keep his coveted chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

MILBANK: It’s amazing -- looks like a full amnesty for Joe Lieberman. He said some awful things about President-Elect Obama, and now he gets -- I don’t think you could even really call it a slap on the wrist there, and in fact, to thank his colleagues for keeping [him] on board, he went out and gave this very carefully-hedged mea culpa after hijacking the Democratic leader’s press conference.

SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN, CONNECTICUT: Some of the statements -- some of the things that people have said I said about Senator Obama are simply not true. There are other statements that I made that I wish I had made more clearly. And there are some that I made that I wish I had not made at all. And obviously, in the heat of the campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that, and now, it's time to move on.

MILBANK: Well, the Democrats may look a little bit wimpy for their behavior here, but fortunately for them, the Republicans are looking no better. They met today to decide whether to kick out Ted Stevens over his felony conviction, to decide -- you know what? Let's take this up again in a couple of days.

BROWN: God, it’s so cynical -- every vote counts. And finally, the story that caught a lot of our eye. So many convicted felons who want to be pardoned by President Bush before he leaves office -- there’s apparently a backlog of at least 2,000 pardon applications.

MILBANK: Yeah -- it sort of has the feeling of the last helicopter off the embassy roof in Saigon.

(Brown laughs.)

MILBANK: There are 2,300 people quite literally begging the president's pardon right now. This is the most in more than 100 years. We've got everybody from the former congressman, Duke Cunningham to John Walker Lindh. Interestingly, not yet Scooter Libby, not yet Ted Stevens -- still time for them though. And there’s also talk that maybe the president would just want to sort of get everything out of the way, give everybody in his administration a blanket preemptive pardon.

BROWN: All right. Dana Milbank for us tonight. Dana, thanks.

MILBANK: Thanks, Campbell.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center