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As part of a new segment on the "Today" show called "Candidate Cribs," NBC's Jonathan Alter went on a cab ride, with Democratic candidate Mike Gravel behind the wheel. However, Alter received more than a calm cruise through the city from the former Alaskan senator. In a gimmicky stunt, meant to showcase the candidate's past life as a New York City cabbie, Alter slid into the back seat for a ride but just after Gravel started griping about Iraq he crashed the taxi.
Alter: "Gravel is best remembered for helping end the Vietnam era draft with a filibuster and for reading the Pentagon Papers in the Senate. Now, after a quarter-century out of politics, he's an angry Rip Van Winkle."
Gravel: "I know how to get out of Iraq. I know how to affect the solution, it's a diplomatic solution."
Don't look for Arianna Huffington to be sitting down to a chummy luncheon with Hillary Clinton anytime soon. Huffington has been no fan of Clinton for some time, considering her insufficiently, and inauthentically, anti-war. But on today's "Morning Joe," Huffington took her animus to another level, accusing Hillary of an ultimate Dem sin: "swiftboating" an opponent, namely Barack Obama.
HUFFINGTON POST FOUNDER ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: After the CNN debate, I think it was ridiculous the way she and her campaign attacked Obama for saying he would engage in diplomatic talks with dictators. That is sort of a classic example of swiftboating your opponent. Like the equivalent of what Republicans do anytime Democrats call for troop withdrawal and they are talking about "cutting and running" or "precipitous withdrawal" or any of the clever little phrases.
Bush hatred has taken on a new, virulent mutation: animus towards First Lady Laura Bush. Witness today's New York Times column by Judith Warner, ‘24’ as Reality Show [subscripton required].
Warner's jumping off point is Kiefer Sutherland's response to a question about the advent in this coming season's "24" of a woman president. Observed the actor who plays Jack Bauer: “I can tell you one thing. We had the first African-American president on television, and now Barack Obama is a serious candidate. That wasn’t going to happen eight years ago. Television is an incredibly powerful medium, and it can be the first step in showing people what is possible.”
That prompted Warner to write:
I giggled a bit nastily over this at first. What was next — claims that fingering China as a one-nation axis of evil on “24” had presaged the country’s exposure this spring as the source of all perishables tainted and fatal? That screen first lady Martha Logan’s descent into minimadness anticipated Laura Bush’s increasingly beleaguered late-term demeanor? (Has anyone but me noticed her astounding resemblance to Dolores Umbridge in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”?)
As noted here at NB yesterday, Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda walked out of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday after hearing General Jack Keane testify about the potential impact of a bill meant to micromanage troop deployment. Keane also testified about progress being made in the counteroffensive that has come to be known as "the surge."
Boyda walked out because the objections to that bill, and the descriptions of an improving situation in Iraq, were apparently too much to bear. She said as much when she returned. Boyda and the fly in her pocket (based on her several references to "we") went into full-rant mode (painfully long and slow-loading audio is here; scroll down to July 27's entry and click on "Audio Transcript"; Boyda's tantrum is about 60% of the way through it; also note that at least a half-dozen hecklers and demonstrators had to be removed during the hearing):
"..... As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to."
"But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it's a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
Mark's post on new Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart caused me to stumble across this news from a few days ago: The gay cable channel Logo and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobby, have announced that Margaret Carlson, a former White House correspondent and deputy Washington bureau chief of Time magazine, will moderate the August 9 Democratic candidates debate on Logo, and Capehart will join the questioning panel.
Carlson was a major booster of Hillary Clinton when she reported from the White House for Time. Capehart is a longtime member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Here's the official press release language:
What is it with Dems and hedge funds? Not long ago we learned that Mr. Two Americas worked for one. Today we find out, in a front-page profile in the New York Times, that Chelsea Clinton also works for a hedge fund.
But the Times was strangely shy about divulging the fact. Only those who persisted through 18 paragraphs and 977 words were rewarded with that noteworthy nugget. And even when the Times did get around to informing us, it managed to find a sympathetic spin to place on Chelsea's decision to work for what many liberals like to portray as the poster child for evil capitalism gone wild.
Does the MSM have the vaguest clue about what makes Republicans tick? For months the liberal media has been propounding the absurd notion that John McCain's quest to obtain the Republican presidential nomination has been undermined by his support for the Iraq war. The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart seems a good guy, but he has now added a clueless coda to that misperception, suggesting that McCain's efforts to repair his relations with the religious right has done him in.
Capehart was part of a panel on this afternoon's "Hardball." Mike Barnicle guest hosted for Chris Matthews, and asked the question "is John McCain gone?"
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIALIST JONATHAN CAPEHART: At least for me, as a member of the press, when John McCain . . . called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance," I thought now there's straight talk, that's someone standing on his own two feet. But then, when he walked away from that recently, I thought wait a minute, what happened to straight talk?
Fortunately, the Weekly Standard's Matt Continetti was there to set him straight.
A lot of people are atwitter over this addition to the Thompson advisory team of former Senator Spencer Abraham. But, it is starting to look to me like a story incorrectly reported by the MSM and rolling off track from there. It just seems that there are too many conflicting reports on Abraham's role with the AP reporting that he is a new "campaign manager" but others saying Randy Enwright is.
The website IsraelToday, for instance, has posted a story full of alarm over the addition of Spence to the team. Their reaction is similar to many Israel supporters here in the states, too. "Fred Thompson names anti-Israel ex-senator as campaign manager" their headline screams. They are very worried over Spence's past slights to Israel and for being "soft on Islamic terrorism."
From the Gavel -- At a House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq Legislation Friday morning (revised from "this morning" when originally posted on Monday), Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda apparently heard as much good news as she could stand.
So she did the old cut-and-run by walking out (as The Gavel explains, "She is responding in part to General Jack Keane, who testified before the Committee but left before Rep. Boyda’s remarks, and was reportedly one of the architects of the escalation policy"; there should probably be a "from" before the second mention of Keane's name):
"I was certainly hoping that General Keane would be able to be here as well. Let me say thank you very much for your testimony so much, Mr. Korb, and I just will make some statements more for the record based on what I heard mainly General Keane. As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to."
"But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue."
Tired of seeing Hillary Clinton in virtually every political media report?
Well, that's not surprising, for according to a new Pew Research Center poll, the junior senator from New York was named by 42 percent of respondents as being the candidate "heard the MOST about in the news lately."
The next nearest was Barack Obama, who was named 22 percent of the time.
By contrast, the top Republican candidates - John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and the not yet announced Fred Thompson - were each only named by two percent of the respondents.
As reported in the poll summary (emphasis added, grateful h/t to unknown e-mailer):
This is why it's hard not to make slippery-slope arguments against the "reforms" the media in this country are constantly pushing, we can see the eventual result--politicians outlawing any kind of criticism of themselves with the media bearing the brunt of it:
New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.
The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for "satire, ridicule or denigration".
On Sunday, NewsBusters reported a shocking discussion that ensued on "The Chris Matthews Show" wherein five liberal media members actually debated why America shouldn't withdraw its troops from Iraq.
Maybe more shocking, the following day, an op-ed was published in the New York Times claiming that "We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, "morale is high," and, as a result, this is "a war we just might win."
Adding to the shock is that this piece was written by two members of the Brookings Institution, which even Wikipedia acknowledges is "widely regarded as being politically liberal." The authors - Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack - described themselves as "two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq."
Not anymore. Better prepare yourself for an alternate reality (emphasis added throughout):
Mika Brzezinski is so outraged that people are discussing Hillary's cleavage . . . that she hopes it helps the Dem prez candidate.
The topic arose at 6:18 A.M. EDT on today's "Morning Joe." The affable Willie Geist, a frequent panelist, is serving this morning as guest host for the absent Joe Scarborough. He broached the subject.
MORNING JOE GUEST HOST WILLIE GEIST: One of the other big stories that everybody is talking about is this Hillary Clinton cleavage thing.
MORNING JOE NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI [in an exasperated tone]: Oh my gosh.
GEIST: . . . There's a shot of it right now; that's not so bad, I've seen much worse.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you kidding me? That's a great outfit. But what annoys me is that people wrote about it and talked about it. And if has helped her in any way I guess it doesn't bother me because that was ridiculous.
The Clinton campaign's attempt to raise money off a Washington Post fashion report on her cleavage drew a very odd sports comparison from CNBC/Wall Street Journal pundit John Harwood on Sunday's Meet the Press: "for her to argue that she was not aware of what she was communicating by her dress is like Barry Bonds saying he thought he was rubbing down with flaxseed oil, okay?" NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell played her usual role of Hillary defender, saying "This was so marginal. This was microscopic evidence of...inappropriate attire." She told Harwood "Sometimes a blouse is just a blouse." Mitchell also claimed it could be a political plus" if Hillary "can connect with women and say, 'You see what we have to put up with? This is the way they trivialize us,' it helps her on—in just about every level."
Something happened on Sunday's "Chris Matthews Show" that likely shocked virtually all viewers on both sides of the aisle: the panel, stocked with liberal media members as usual, actually discussed reasons why America shouldn't pull troops out of Iraq.
In fact, not only was this issue seriously debated, but some of the statements made could have come from well-known conservative columnists like Fred Barnes, Bill Kristol, and Charles Krauthammer.
No matter how obscure the corner of our culture it might be covering, the MSM often manages to inject its politics. And so it was on this morning's "Today," on what had been shaping up to be a harmless feature on ventriloquists.
NBC's Brian Balthazar narrated the segment, which focused on a ventriloquists' convention in Kentucky. At one point, this dialogue between a ventriloquist and his dummy, Dexter, was rolled.
DEXTER THE DUMMY: I'm thinking about running for president.
VENTRILOQUIST AL STEVENS: President? Who in their right mind would vote for a dummy for president?
We all had the opportunity for some real political fun this week when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama contradicted each other in the CNN/YouTube debate. If you did not already see it, one of the YouTube questioners asked the candidates whether they would be willing to meet with the leaders of rogue nations, without preconditions, during their first year in office. Obama answered that he would. Clinton answered that she would not.
Those are differing positions, right? Diametrically opposed, actually? Well, maybe not, or at least not according to Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. In his July 27 article "Talking to Dictators," Alter wrote: "[o]n the substance, their views are almost indistinguishable." Indistinguishable?
Alter's surprising conclusion comes after his own summary of the post-debate fracas between Clinton and Obama:
The Washington Post website reports that Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign has sent out a fundraising letter protesting Post fashion critic Robin Givhan’s article about being disturbed by a small glimpse of Hillary’s cleavage on C-SPAN. Longtime Hillaryland fixture Ann Lewis fussed: "Now I’ve seen some off-topic press coverage – but talking about body parts? That’s grossly inappropriate." She even tries to sound like a social conservative: "Take a stand against this kind of coarseness and pettiness in American culture."
Insert your own comment here on how odd it is to assume that Bill and Hillary Clinton are the very antonym of public pettiness or coarse personal misbehavior.
The Washington Post 2008 campaign blog "The Trail" has an update on Cleavage-gate, a minor row that seems to have caught the paper's fashion critic Robin Givhan with a dear-in-the-headlights look while giving New York's junior senator a change to perk up her campaign's finances. [Update: Tim Graham has an excellent take on the matter, coming at it from a different angle than I did here. It's a good read. Check it out.]
As the Post's Howard Kurtz and Anne E. Kornblut note, Givhan protests that she:
...would never say the column was about a body part... It was about a style of dress. People have gone down the road of saying, 'I can't believe you're writing about her breasts.' I wasn't writing about her breasts. I was writing about her neckline.
No matter. Kurtz and Kornblut note that Hillary's acolytes are using Givhan's July 20 article to push-up fundraising:
Correction (July 31 | 14:40): Colbert's wrist was broken. He injured it running around his studio before a show. I regret the error.
Bob Shrum, the Democratic political strategist who has only slightly fewer losses on his resume than the Philadelphia Phillies, appeared on the Colbert Report last night to tout his book, “No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Complainer,” err, I mean, “No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner.”
Colbert, who was pretending to be gravely hurt and wearing a fake cast on his arm, was ushered in by wheelchair. Shrum, not missing an opportunity to shill for the Democrats, quipped:
“I hope all the suffering has made you more inclined to support national health insurance, so everybody can get the same kind of risk care you do.”
Clever as ever Mr. Shrum. But that was only the beginning.
Colbert immediately turned his attention to what Shrum, the Susan Lucci of political campaigning, is best known for, losing.
A transcript of Colbert and Shrum’s conversation follows. Colbert’s show is designed as a satirical homage to Bill O’Reilly and usually makes fun of conservatives and certainly Shrum knows this. Even so, he’s dead serious about his Bush-stole-Ohio charge.
Scanning the columns at Townhall.com is part of my early-morning routine, and it was at about 6 A.M. today that I read Charles Krauthammer's "Obama Bombing." I marveled at how perfectly the Pulitzer Prize-winning author had captured the essence of Hugo Chavez, calling the Venezuelan thug "a malevolent clown."
Krauthammer's words obviously impressed Matt Lauer, too. For barely an hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the psychiatrist-turned-pundit's phrase turning up on the screen at "Today," with Lauer clearly seeming to advance the conservative commentator's theory.
Lauer was interviewing MSNBC's Chris Matthews on this week's Hillary-Obama dust-up.
"TODAY" CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about this debate, the issue that came out of the debate, this whole inexperience-versus-change thing, when Barack Obama answered that in the first year of his presidency he would meet with people like Castro and Chavez. Let me read you what Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post this morning:
Do the Democrats want to risk strike three, another national security question blown, but this time perhaps in a final presidential debate before the '08 election, rather than a midseason intraparty cattle call? The country might decide that it prefers, yes, a Republican -- say, 9/11 veteran Rudy Giuliani -- to a freshman senator who does not instinctively understand why an American president does not share the honor of his office with a malevolent clown like Hugo Chavez.
Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman lamented this week that the John Edwards poverty tour/publicity tour didn’t passionately grip America, that it did not immediately become a mythic event, like filthy-rich Bobby Kennedy's poverty tour in 1968. In a dramatic flourish, the young Harvard-educated whipper-snapper blames this tragedy on not-very-compassionate America:
"There is something tragic about Edwards's failure to break through. Today, 37 million Americans live below the poverty line, 12 million more than at the time of Kennedy's death. And yet Edwards's call of conscience has not resonated. By all rights, Edwards, the son of a millworker, should have an easier time talking about poverty than did Kennedy, the son of a millionaire. His difficulty speaks to the candidate's inability to connect. It also speaks to the nation's inability to be moved."
The current political buzzword is "naive." That's of course what Hillary called Obama, and he has responded in kind. But when it comes to being an ingenue, Obama has a long way to go to top Sally Quinn, grande dame of the DC set and wife of former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee. Here's what she said on this afternoon's "Hardball."
SALLY QUINN: The fact is that the new word these days is 'dialogue.' [Ed.: New? Well shut Socrates mouth!] And so many of these dictators, quote, dictators [Ed.: we wouldn't want to offend Assad or Kim Jong Il] are really sort of shallow people who are looking for respect, andif you talk to them, you can immediately sort of get them down and get them on your side.
Put down your coffee mugs before you continue, sports fans, for conservative columnist Ann Coulter wrote a review of Monday's Democrat presidential debate, and your computer is in grave jeopardy if fluids are nearby.
In a column entitled "Obama Hails a Unicorn," Coulter first skewered the junior senator from Illinois' claim that "he couldn't get a cab in New York because he's black" (emphasis added throughout):
Last year, a black writer in the [New York Times] pointed out how things had changed in New York in the 10 years since he had been out of the country. Not only did he have no trouble getting a cab, but he cited statistics from taxi sting operations that showed a 96 percent compliance rate among cabbies in picking up blacks.
However, her best shot was taken at the junior senator from New York:
Americans interested in free speech got a boost Monday when the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin J. Martin, came out strongly against any reimplementation of the Fairness Doctrine.
As reported by the Associated Press Thursday (emphasis added):
Martin, in a letter written this week to Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and made public Thursday, said the agency found no compelling reason to revisit its 1987 decision that enforcing the federal rule was not in the public interest.
This letter (PDF available here) quite supported the views concerning this issue being expressed by Congressional Republicans in the past few weeks since this matter took center stage (emphasis added):
Liberals love to decry the Bush administration's alleged undermining of the rule of law. The lead editorial in today's New York Times, for example, demands Congress "not capitulate in the White House’s attempt to rob it of its constitutional powers."
But ironically, just below the editorial appears a column by one Jean Edward Smith brazenly entitled "Stacking the Court." Far from condemning the possibility, the author, a Marshall University professor, endorses the prospect as a means of coercing the Supreme Court into issuing rulings more to his, and his fellow liberals', liking.
Threatens Smith, with all the subtlety of a mobster telling a mark he'd hate to see anything happen to his kids:
If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or two. Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues might do well to bear in mind that the roll call of presidents who have used this option includes not just Roosevelt but also Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.
Amidst all the MSM analysis of the dust-up between Hillary and Obama over his statement at the CNN/YouTube debate that he would commit to meet with the world's worst dictators in his first year in office, I haven't noticed anyone observing the obvious: that with her statement on the subject, Hillary has made it very problematic for herself to name Obama as her VP running-mate. To see why this is true, consider the kind of ad that the Republican candidate would inevitably run if Hillary were to tap Obama for the Veep spot . . .
On July 25, two of the major morning news shows, "Today" and "The Early Show," covered the recent foreign policy disagreements between Senators Obama and Clinton with very stark contrasts.
Bob Schieffer on CBS’s "Early Show"hyped her supposedly inevitable nomination exclaiming "it’s Christmas in July for Mrs. Clinton" and "this is going to be Mrs. Clinton’s nomination to lose." Scheiffer, noting Clinton’s response to Obama, fawned "boy...she jumped on this one" and tied it in to her "experience." To top it off, Schieffer claimed "this Clinton machine is now really running."
Tim Russert on NBC’s "Today," by contrast, forecasted "a fight to the finish" because Obama "punches back" by accusing Clinton of irresponsibility voting for the Iraq War. Russert also opined that Hillary risks hurting the left wing base of her party.