Here's Hillary's idea of diplomacy: bend to her will, or she'll put your life in danger. And that's how she treats our allies.
Yikes. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, let me try to send a message to Hillary's handlers: emergency personality makeover required! A couple more appearances as angry and unpleasant as this morning's on Today and Hillary's odds of winning the Dem nomination will be as slim as those she accorded to that of the surge succeeding.
The strategy for Hillary's conversation with Matt Lauer was transparent. Because her substantive position on Iraq is not as anti-war as that of Obama or Edwards, Hillary sought to compensate, in appealing to Dem primary voters, by sounding angrier about our policy than either of her rivals. From that perspective, you might say: Mission Accomplished. This was Hillary, rhetorically speaking, packing an M-4, grenades slung, knife between teeth.
But at what cost to her likability? Don't voters have to be able to warm up to a candidate? Yet Hillary hovered barely above absolute zero.
Beyond her tone, her message was about as cold-blooded as you can get. Twice she suggested threatening to cut off funding for the personal security of Iraq's leaders. As Hillary put it: "I don't think we should continue to fund the protection for the Iraqi government leaders or for the training and equipping of their army unless they meet certain conditions."
This was no idle threat. It was clearly a key element of Hillary's plan, one she repeated later:
"I [suggest] putting leverage on them and saying 'you know what, we provide security for the members of this government, we're cutting funding for that.'"
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
You can take the man out of CNN - and stick him in Congress - but you can't take the CNN out of the man. As per this Robert Novak column, Steven Kagen, a Democrat elected in November to represent a Wisconsin district in Congress, recently bragged of having insulted First Lady Laura Bush, President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Karl Rove at a White House function for new members.
The details of Kagen's insults, set forth below, boggle the mind. What kind of person would do something like this? The kind of person that CNN would hire to be a consultant. A quick Googling uncovered the fact that, as per the Democratic Congressional Committee's official web page, Kagen, a doctor, "for seven years was the Allergy Consultant for CNN."
Here is Novak's description of Kagen's vulgar and unseemly actions.
"Newly elected Rep. Steven Kagen, a rich allergist who self-financed his campaign in Wisconsin, by his own account taunted President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential adviser Karl Rove during a White House function for new members of Congress in December.
"Kagen told a group of activists that after he found himself in the restroom with Rove, he blocked the White House deputy chief of staff's departure by holding the door closed. According to Kagen, he then said: "You're in the White House and you think you're safe. . . . My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass."
Free Republic, a conservative website familiar to many at NewsBusters, is normally not in the business of breaking news stories. FR's raison d'etre is to serve as a gathering place for conservatives to post and comment on stories found elsewhere in the media - including at NB.
But today comes some interesting investigative reporting at Free Republic, billed as an FR Exclusive. As reported by FReeper Howlin, CNN has recently signed a deal to provide poll data for the '08 prez contest with a polling firm controlled by an avid Clinton supporter.
How do you know when someone's gone off the deep end of the liberal pool? When she manages to outdo Keith Olbermann at the art of invective.
On this evening's Countdown, Olbermann and Arianna Huffington were discussing Joe Lieberman's support of President Bush's Iraq policy. Olbermann's opening bid was to suggest, given Lieberman's backing of traditional Dem positions on ethics and global warming and the fact that "he could give the Senate to the GOP if he feels crossed or just feels like it," that the independent Democratic senator from CT was a "necessary evil" from the Dems' viewpoint.
"Necessary evil"? Was that weak beer the best Keith could do? Arianna easily trumped Olbermann's opprobrium: "this is like somebody having a horrible disease and looking at some positive side-effect. Like having terminal cancer and saying 'but, I'm losing weight in the process.'"
For Chris Matthews, there is one constant to be considered in analyzing the prospects of the presidential contenders on both the GOP and Dem sides: the presumed bigotry of his fellow Americans.
Kibitzing about '08 on this afternoon's Hardball with a conservative-free panel composed of Chris Cizzilla of the Washington Post, Mike Allen of Time and Howard Fineman of time immemorial, Matthews first handicapped the Dem field in these terms:
"Is the low estimate of [Democrats'] belief in [Hillary's] electability low enough thatthey think that an African-American guy has a better shot than she does? I mean that's a statement, I think, of pessimism about her shot if you shift to him for electability reasons."
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
Could Meredith Vieira be emerging as one of the morning shows' most incisive inquisitioners? As we noted here, Katie Couric's replacement at "Today" recently gave Ted Kennedy a rather rough going-over regarding his legislative proposal to require the president to obtain congressional approval for a surge.
This morning, she took on the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. And while her tone and line of questioning were not disrespectful, neither was there any hint of the kind of MSM cheerleading that the junior senator from IL has no doubt come to expect.
Before we get to Vieira's questions, take a good look at the screencap. By his super-serious mien and the marble-pillared setting he chose for the interview, Obama was clearly trying to project the image of a ready-for-prime-time Commander-in-Chief. Call him "Stone Cold Barack Obama."
In other words, what follows is from an officially released May 30, 2004 interview of Nancy Pelosi by Tim Russert. At the time, what Pelosi said was blessed by the party, and what she said is that there should be more troops in Iraq (bolds are mine):
No, of course the Democratic Party in Washington doesn't have a problem with the real or perceived masculinity of its male senators and congressmen.
Absolutely not. What in the world are you talking about?
You're all excited just because Maureen Dowd calls Barack Obama "Obambi," had to listen to him complain to her because she wrote that his ears are big (he's sennnnnnsitive about them, y'know), and told him that she's trying to "toughen him up."
Oh, and you still remember Al Gore bringing in Naomi Wolf in to help him during the early stages of his 2000 presidential campaign because:
..... he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President .....
Your point is?
And I'll just bet you're going to try to make hay out of that Sunday New York Times Week in Review feature (requires registration) about the new Democratic Alpha Males:
Looks as if Nancy Pelosi has found a rooting section at ABC. As we detailed here yesterday, Charley Gibson fawned over Nancy Pelosi's baby-clutching photo-op. This morning, Cokie Roberts joined the claque. Appearing on This Week, she enthused:
"Great images, you're absolutely right. And completely natural. . . That baby knew that grandmother even though it's only a few weeks old. All those other children were completely comfortable with her. And it was, it was just, fun. It wasn't in any way stilted and awful."
The AP isn't the only one going ga-ga over the ascension of Nancy Pelosi to become the "first Female Speaker of the House". We are seeing the fawning on just about every news outlet out there. And it is, indeed, quite an historic change from the long line of gentlemen that have taken the Speaker's gavel.
This evening's episode of Fox News Watch was more jam-packed than Smucker's at harvest time. But for space restraints, the headline would have been much longer. Let's get this party started:
Jim Pinkerton took an unvarnished shot at Charley Gibson, anchor of ABC's World News. Said Pinkerton, discussing Nancy Pelosi's shameless photo-op, shown here::
"The picture of Nancy Pelosi holding the baby inspired that genius of analysis Charles Gibson on ABC to say 'Oh! Nancy Pelosi is taking care of a baby and taking care of the country at the same time.' That's a total home-run for the spin doctors. They put a picture in front of it, and some dumb TV reporter just said 'oh yeah, well, I guess she's taking care of the country."
View edited video of several clips from this evening's show here.
As NewsBusters has also noted [here and here], Rich Lowry of National Review, pinch-hitting for Cal Thomas, observed: "There has been a big contrast in the media coverage of this takeover and the Republican takeover in 1994. Time magazine ran a cover story on Newt Gingrich in December, 'Mad as Hell'. Democrats were just as angry at George Bush this time around as Republicans were at Bill Clinton, but you would never see that sort of coverage on a major newsweekly now, because of the liberal media bias, right Neal?"
The detritus of Nancy Pelosi's imperial celebrations have barely been cleared, and already at least one member of the liberal punditry, Robert Kuttner, is demanding that the new Dem majority do more of what Dems do best: tax and spend.
It's as if one of the Smithsonian's dinosaurs, taxasaurus democratae, patiently gathering dust all these last dozen years, had suddenly roared to life, broken from its exhibit, and began slouching toward Capitol Hill to be reborn. To mix a metaphor and a poem.
Annotated excerpts from Kuttner's impassioned plea, Get Serious Democrats, from this morning's Boston Globe:
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper began the Thursday edition of his "AC: 360" program by announcing that he intended to "keep them [the Democrats] honest." A few seconds later, reporter Dana Bash described Nancy Pelosi’s elevation to Speaker as "a moment to savor." For everyone? Ms. Bash elaborated, saying that portents of Democratic power could be seen everywhere, including the appearance of Hollywood celebrities and the sight of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert sitting in the back of the chamber:
Anderson Cooper: "Day one for lawmakers who are promising a whole host of legislation in their first 100 hours of work. We're here tonight to help keep them honest. So, throughout the hour, we will be looking at how Democrats hope to make law. First, though, CNN's Dana Bash on how they are making history."
Dana Bash: "A moment to savor -- Nancy Pelosi seized the gavel and, with it, power for the Democrats, an ambitious agenda, but, today, history, the first female Speaker, second in line to be president."
The new year may have just begun, but members of the media are relying on time-tested bias to attack conservatives and Republicans. Chris Matthews recently slimed Fox News host Bill O’Reilly by linking him to such despotic leaders as Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During the funeral of President Gerald Ford, Katie Couric attacked the Reverend Billy Graham for being "remarkably partisan." A "Time" magazine correspondent slammed the departed Ford for not criticizing the Iraq war publically, calling it "unpardonable."
Has anyone checked the video to see if Chris Matthews was part of Cindy Sheehan's noisy protest that brought Rahm Emanuel's press conference to a halt the other day at the Capitol? Because Matthews has been on an absolute anti-war rampage. As noted here, in the days preceding Nancy Pelosi's ascension to the speakership he was demanding that she use the power of the purse to cut off funding for the war. Yesterday afternoon he snapped at Matt Lauer when his NBC colleague opined that the Democrats have no choice but to fund the war so long as US troops are in the field.
Matthews continued his campaign on last night's Hardball. Check out these excerpts from his conversation with Dem strategist Hilary Rosen and former Republican representative Susan Molinari:
Demanded Chris of Rosen: "Will the Democrats do what they promised to do in the campaign or will they let the voters down again and not stop this war?"
Proving that he can be just as hard on Democrats as Republicans, CNN’s Jack Cafferty savaged the Democratic Party--for going easy on George Bush. Appearing on Thursday’s edition of "The Situation Room," the veteran journalist slammed Dems in Congress for stating that they won’t impeach the President, for refusing to cut funding for Iraq, and generally not standing up to Bush. According to Cafferty, this makes them "no better than the people committing these crimes."
The CNN host began by lamenting the agenda of the incoming Democrats:
Jack Cafferty: "But the Democrats are focused on raising the minimum wage. That’s fine, I guess. They’ve already said they won’t impeach President Bush. They’ve already said they won’t cut funding for the war. And several Democrats are hedging on the issue of independent ethics oversight of Congress. Gee, we don’t need that, do you?...If the Democratic Party refuses to confront this administration in a meaningful way on the issues that are threatening the very survival of our nation, then they’re no better than the people committing these crimes."
On Thursday’s Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman offered a very positive, Obama-like portrayal of newly elected Congressman and Muslim Keith Ellison. Because Ellison’s use of the Koran in his swearing in was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, it has "impeccable American credentials" and it is "a politically savvy move" by Congressman Ellison. Shipman continued her glowing report calling him "affable" and states that he "charms almost every crowd."
Despite the historic first, Shipman failed to report that Ellison was associated with the racist and anti-semitic organization, the Nation of Islam. Although Keith Ellison has since distanced himself from that organization, he retains strong ties with the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) which has connections to the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. CAIR grew to be so controversial that even ultra liberal Senator Barbara Boxer disassociated herself from them.
Amidst all the media hype over what CBS’ Bob Schieffer called the congressional Democrats’ "ambitious schedule" to reform ethics rules and regulations, Wednesday’s "Anderson Cooper 360" actually provided a tough, worthwhile report on what real ethical reform would be. According to CNN correspondent Drew Griffin, convicted members of Congress still receive thousands of dollars in pensions. Yes, disgraced felons such as James Traficant, Randy Cunningham, and Dan Rostenkowski each year accrue large sums of taxpayer money. Host Anderson Cooper introduced the subject and seemed to issue a challenge to the Democrats:
Anderson Cooper: "Well, the new Congress convenes tomorrow with Democrats in control, who have pledged to pass a number of bills in the first 100 legislative hours. They have also promised to change some ethic rules on Capitol Hill. One law that they're not tackling is pensions for convicted members of Congress. That's right, tax dollars used to pay for the retirement of felons."
For CNN, New Years Eve arrived on January 4. "Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer literally counted down the seconds until the Democrats officially took control of Congress. However, when the Republican Revolution swept the GOP into power in 1994, the cable network did not display such a running tally. At 11:45am, Mr. Blitzer hosted a special edition of his program and explained the digital readout:
Wolf Blitzer: "Right now, we’re counting down to the power shift. Both the House and the Senate will be called to order at noon eastern. That’s when our countdown clock runs out and ceremonies ushering in the new era in Congress begin."
According to Bob Schieffer, the Democrats in Congress will be pursuing an "ambitious schedule" on ethics reform. Yet, Schieffer neglected to mention what the Democratic leadership is going to do about ethically challenged Democrats like William Jefferson of Louisiana or Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. Schieffer, appearing on the "Early Show’s" weekly "Capitol Bob" segment, noted loopholes in the Democrats plan on ethics reform, but was pleased that the new Congress was "going to get started."
However, when the Republican controlled Congress attempted to overhaul ethics procedures in June, Schieffer classified these attempts as "not much more than a joke." In a June 11, 2006 commentary on CBS’ "Face the Nation," Schieffer lamented:
Has that blizzard in the Plains blown all the way into Hades? On the day of Nancy Pelosi's congressional coronation, a rhetorical shot was taken at her from an unexpected quarter, that of Andrea Mitchell.
Interviewing veteran Dem congressman John Dingell of Michigan, Mitchell asked:
"Are you happy with this big celebration that Nancy Pelosi has planned for herself? Is it a bit unseemly to have Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett and the dinners and the lunches and the brunches and the trip to Baltimore to rename the street in honor of her. Isn't this a little bit too imperial?"
Meredith Vieira gave herself some cover. It might have been a bit awkward for her to openly avow that she was excited as an anti-war protester, or as a Democrat, a liberal, a proud member of the MSM, etc., to see Nancy Pelosi sworn in as Speaker. Meredith settled for the less controversial formulation: "It's a very historic day on Capitol Hill. Nancy Pelosi, first woman to become Speaker of the House. I'm excited as a woman to see that happen."
Why do I suspect that Meredith wouldn't be quite so excited if, say, Republican Deb Pryce of Ohio were about to grab the Speaker's gavel?
Apparently deciding that one puff piece on a Democratic leader isn’t enough, Wednesday’s "American Morning" featured a virtual DNC press release on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her childhood city of Baltimore. Reporter Andrea Koppel noted that the Congresswoman comes from a neighborhood "full of proud American-Italian Catholics" and that Pelosi hopes voters will recognize the fact that she "places a premium on family values." The piece featured no criticism of the soon-to-be Speaker, only praise for her "historic moment":
Andrea Koppel: "Now, as Congresswoman Pelosi walks into the history books, becoming the first female Speaker of the House, she plans to pay tribute to her Baltimore roots. Professor Matthew Crensen says the visit could help her refashion her image."
Matthew Crensen (John Hopkins professor): "That she's not just a well-dressed lady from San Francisco, who is married to a millionaire, that she came from a working-class ethnic, religious neighborhood, that she's one of them."
Koppel: "And with Democrats set to take control of Congress this week, that message, that Pelosi places a premium on family values, is one that she, and her party, hope will resonate with middle-class America..."
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN reporter Dana Bash profiled incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and revealed some "startling" details: The Nevada Democrat’s childhood nickname was "Pinky." Additionally, Reid enjoys listening to his iPod and reading "People" magazine. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Bash didn’t find time to mention the various scandals swirling around Reid. (Judicial Watch recently named him the tenth most corrupt politician of 2006.) The CNN correspondent, who traveled to Reid’s home of Searchlight, Nevada, began her piece by promising surprising revelations. Apparently the Senator’s musical taste fall into this category:
Dana Bash: "The senator from Nevada fights for Sin City but doesn't gamble or drink. A square-looking guy who listens to hip songs on his iPod."
[On camera: Harry Reid plays a 'Cowboy Junkies' song on his stereo]
Bash: "Cowboy Junkies!"
Reid: "You know the Cowboy Junkies?"
Bash: "And how does he keep up with music? Get this: Did I read that you're a ‘People’ magazine reader?"
This morning the Washington Post published a story about how the Democrats are going to exclude Republicans from participating in the "First 100 Hours" plan that the Democrats intend to implement when they officially become the majority in the House of Representatives this week. And, while they do clearly state that the Democrat majority is going against a campaign promise to be less partisan, the Post just cannot help but make it seem as if it pains those poor Democrats that Republicans are so mean that they cannot include them in compliance with their promises.
In the wake of the Dem victory of November, Paul Krugman isn't merely doing a victory dance. He brings to mind one of those ardent football fans up in the stands after his team scores the winning touchdown. Stripped to the waist, painted in team colors, getting up in the face of an opposing fan to taunt "na-na-na-na, goodbye" followed by a rousing chorus of "start the bus."
In his pay-per-view opus of this morning, "A Failed Revolution," Krugman proclaims that not merely has the Republican revolution of 1994 failed, but that it "was always based on a lie."
Just what is that lie? According to Krugman it was the belief expressed by Dick Armey at the time that: "most government programs don’t do anything 'to help American families with the needs of everyday life . . . and very few American families would notice their disappearance."
And how does Krugman prove that Armey was lying? By noting that "more than a few families would notice the disappearance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." No doubt. There's only one problem. The leaders of the Republican revolution never called for the abolition of any of those programs. So who's lying now?
Catspawing for another candidate, or just solid journalistic probing? In either case, ABC's George Stephanopoulos gave John Edwards a rough go when the former NC senator appeared on Good Morning America today to announce his candidacy for president.
Steph was on the offense from the get-go: "Back in 2004, you criticized President Bush for exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 by having his convention in New York City. Aren't you exploiting Katrina by announcing your candidacy in New Orleans?"
Edwards didn't respond directly to the exploitation allegation, asserting only that he was seeking to draw attention to New Orleans's plight. And not to himself? At the risk of reading too much into every jot and tittle, I'd say that Steph's formulation "aren't you exploiting?" is considerably more accusatory than would have been "are you exploiting?"