During his regular “Political Daily Briefing’ feature on CNN’s “No Bias, No Bull” program on Tuesday evening, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post used Hillary Clinton’s famous descriptive about her conservative opponents in describing one group’s latest effort against the outgoing New York senator: “A group called Judicial Watch, charter members of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- they were on to Hillary back during the commodity trading days -- now, they say because of Article One in the Constitution says you cannot serve in the position where you got a -- voted for a pay raise while you were in Congress, they’re saying she is constitutionally ineligible.” He then opined that “the only thing for Hillary to do is just give her $191,000 salary as Secretary of State to Judicial Watch for their extraordinary creativity -- just save everybody the court costs.”
Against the odds, GOP candidates in the state of Tennessee experienced a historic win. In addition to delivering the state to John McCain, Republicans won both chambers of the state legislature. And, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Sen. Lamar Alexander became the first Republican to carry all but one county in his re-election win -- even taking a quarter of Tennessee's black votes."
Today's run-off election for Georgia's Senate between incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin has attracted a lot of attention, especially because it could put the Democratic majority one seat closer to the 60 seats needed for a filibuster-proof Senate. Michael Grunwald of Time magazine has a story up today about the importance of the outcome of the race, but instead of giving a fair-and-balanced look at how both candidates would affect the Senate, Grunwald uses the piece to attack Chambliss for being a "textbook Bush-Cheney Republican" and praise Martin for potentially being a repudiation of Bush and a "candidate of the middle class."
Grunwald starts off by reminding readers that Georgia is still "an extremely conservative state" despite a Time magazine article from June which wondered if Georgia would be "Obama's Ohio" in the election. The writer uses this characterization of Georgia to frame Martin's potential win as "a crowning embarrassment for the GOP" and attacks Republicans by saying it would "rival Obama's own victory as a repudiation of the Bush agenda of tax cuts for the rich, pork for the well-connected, belt-tightening for the working poor, drill-baby-drill, strict-construction judges and military adventurism." That's when the Chambliss-bashing starts, as Grunwald goes on to say, "not to mention the political cynicism that made Chambliss notorious after his ads in 2002 comparing his opponent, triple-amputee Max Cleland, to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."
On Sunday’s Chris Matthews Show, host Matthews led the panel in a discussion over whether conservatives would choose to cooperate with the Obama administration in making "historic changes" to repair the economy, rather than stand in opposition to his programs. The premise of the discussion seemed to be that times are too serious for conservatives to dare dissent from Obama’s plans. At one point, David Ignatius of the Washington Post suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans will work with Obama as he referred to John McCain’s concession speech. Ignatius: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book."
As he teased the show, Matthews seemed to wonder if Republicans would try to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing "great things," or if they would see the light and cooperate. Matthews: "Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?"
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Joe Conason's column should be as chilling to conservatives as it is meant to be comforting to liberals. His message: don't be distracted by the centrist-seeming appointments Pres.-elect Obama has made to his economic team. He remains as committed as ever to his radical agenda.
Conason's commentary appears this morning at Rasmussen Reports. Key lines [emphasis added]:
[W]hen liberals point to Summers and other members of the Obama team, crying betrayal, they misunderstand the strategy behind those appointments. The most important thing to remember about the president-elect as he prepares to govern is that he takes the long view -- and that he knows how to make a reasonable case for radical change. He has not taken one step back from the commitments he articulated during his campaign.
The major broadcast networks have so far lavished praise on President-elect Barack Obama for his Cabinet choices, in contrast to the airing of complaints from liberals over President Bush’s choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General eight years ago. But an exception came on Sunday as the CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell informed viewers that "not everyone is happy about some of Mr. Obama’s picks." But rather than examining whether conservatives will be unhappy with the liberal views of Obama’s Cabinet members, CBS’s Randall Pinkston instead focused on liberals who believe the President-elect is not delivering on his campaign promise of "change," even playing a clip of political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson claiming that Obama had chosen a number of "Clintonesque, moderate, centrist Democrats."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric referred to a recent court ruling to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees as: "A big legal setback for the president's war on terror." Couric later introduced a report on the ruling and reiterated the idea of the ruling being a defeat solely for President Bush: "...a federal judge ruled today that five suspects held at Guantanamo Bay must be released...it's a major defeat for the Bush administration in its final days."
In the report, correspondent Wyatt Andrews described how: "Defense lawyers call it a victory for American justice and the beginning of the end for Guantanamo." Andrews cited one attorney, Stephen Olesky: " I think many forces are now working toward the closure of Guantanamo and toward ensuring that many of these men who have been held for so long under such desperate circumstances get home." Andrews concluded the report: "...the ruling starts a nightmare for the Pentagon. The military now faces an oncoming rush of 200 Guantanamo appeals, not to mention an incoming president who wants to close the camp altogether." One wonders if CBS will be using the phrase "president’s war on terror" with President Obama.
What follows is an excerpt of my November 19 op-ed in the Washington Times. You can find the full article here.
The two stars of the recent election were Barack Obama and "mainstream media" bias. In this media climate, the terms "Republican" and "conservative" have been relegated to epithet status.
My Democratic-leaning friends argue, fairly, I think, that if the media are so biased, why have Republican presidents sat in the Oval Office for nearly 20 of the last 28 years? The answer is that while the media always play a huge role in presidential elections and their aftermaths, they don't play the only role.
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...”
That's how many Republicans are likely to react after retiring Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel blasted Republicans in general and Rush Limbaugh in particular, claiming Rush and fellow conservative talkers "don't have any answers."
David Shuster, subbing for Olbermann on tonight's Countdown, highlighted Hagel's remarks of today.
McCain/Palin supporters are idiots. So said the scribes of ABC's Boston Legal who scripted a show that went out of its way to trash Sarah Palin and elevate the election of Barack Obama to mythical status.
Oh. And bloggers are "entry level life forms that intellectually have yet to emerge from the primordial ooze."
The thrust of the storyline was a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed she was fired from her job because she voted for McCain. As it turns out her Republican boss fired her because he thought she was stupid and based his conclusion on the fact that the woman was an ardent Hillary supporter who voted for McCain because of Sarah Palin. A double slam from the left-loving writers of Boston Legal.
The Obama-supporting characters "Alan Shore" and "Shirley Schmidt" played by James Spader and Candice Bergen represented the Hillary/Palin-supporting woman even though they did think she was stupid...for supporting the McCain ticket. "Schmidt" tells the character "Martha" as much in a conference.
"SHIRLEY SCHMIDT:" Honey, the sexist in all this is you. ... You claim to be a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. You--you walked into that booth and voted against everything Hillary stands for, and why? Because the republicans added to their ticket someone they referred to at the convention as "the hot chick."
Frank Rich has apparently figured out that after January 20, it's not going to be as much fun for him. True, the Times columnist will surely disinter W as necessary to explain away Obama's missteps. But the buck for whatever post-inauguration problems the country faces will land ever more resoundingly on the new president's desk.
And so, like a vaudevillian tapping as fast as he can while anticipating the hook, Rich seems determined to spend these last few weeks of the Bush administration dancing on GOP graves and luxuriating in Republicans' perceived pain. You might say Frank is making hatred while the sun shines.
As we discussed last week in Have Fun For Now, Frank, Rich's immediate post-election column was one long poke in the Republican eye. The Timester is back at it again this morning, outdoing himself in sheer vitriol as he pour buckets of salt, generously seasoned with schadenfreude, into Republican wounds.
In a report on Thursday’s CBS Evening News on the Republican Governors Association conference, correspondent Kelly Cobiella focused on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, observing: "A lot of Americans would like to see her stay on the national stage -- 45 percent, according a new Gallup Poll. But even more, 52, percent, would not." Cobiella then added: "The party itself is split on whether to embrace Palin-style conservatism or broaden its appeal." A clip of Politico’s Jonathan Martin was featured: "You talk to a lot of these governors and they're very candid about it. This cannot be a white rural male party. And if it is, it's going to die."
Cobiella began the report by describing Palin’s attendance at the conference this way: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin blew into Miami like a hurricane." In reference to Palin’s address to the organization, Cobiella remarked: "But when it came time to lay out her vision of the party's future, her role in it, her speech was heavy on the past." Cobiella also critiqued Palin’s press conference: "She also gave her first formal press conference since joining the Republican ticket. It was four questions long." After suggesting Palin’s press conference was too short, Cobiella described the Governor’s recent media blitz as simply: "firing back at critics, including unnamed aides to Senator John McCain, who said she spent too much money on clothes and wasn't prepared for the job."
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, a report by CNN correspondent Joe Johns, along with a subsequent interview by anchor Rick Sanchez, raised the implication that anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, particularly from conservatives, might be partially to blame for a spike in so-called hate crimes against Latinos. During a clip in Johns’ report, which was about the recent murder of an immigrant from Ecuador by teenagers, columnist Ruben Navarrette speculated that "[w]hen people go out on the airwaves or in print or at the stump as a politician, and they beat that drum, they shouldn’t be surprised. At the end of the day, many people out there, and particularly young people, who are very impressionable, think, ‘Hey, you know what? This is one group we can do this to.’" At the end of his report, Johns added that "[t]he question that’s already being raised by activist groups in the newspapers is whether anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a climate for this kind of thing."
After the report, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, who added that "really, racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda....have made their way out into the larger anti-immigration movement -- the Minutemen groups and so on. And before you know it, they are on talk radio, they are on some cable news talk shows." Strangely, the CNN anchor then went on a bit of a tangent by bringing how Newsweek recently reported that "the Secret Service has now confirmed that threats against Barack Obama spiked when Sarah Palin began impugning his patriotism."
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez actually complimented NewsBusters on Wednesday afternoon for monitoring his Newsroom program: "...[T]he NewsBusters website, which constantly monitors this show -- and we're glad that they do -- questioned my conversation -- criticized it with Neal Boortz. In particular, our suggestion that the GOP needs to remain adamantly anti-abortion, to try and keep the Southern vote" He later thanked the MRC’s blog for watching.
The short segment, which began 23 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, examined "the critics and compliment" of his newscast, as the on-screen graphic put it. Sanchez mentioned how "once the show concludes, I start getting all these Google alerts about what's being written about us, and every day, people are writing after they watch our newscast. We're giving them plenty of material."
During a segment on Tuesday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez asked South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford if the Republican needed to abandon its social conservative principles in order to be successful again:
"Do you have to be anti-abortion, because that's a very important, big topic in the South..?" Sanchez later asked the Republican governor, as well as talk show host Neal Boortz, "Can you be a fiscal Republican and a social conservative Republican at the same time without making one side mad..?"
Sanchez had both Sanford and Boortz on to discuss the upcoming Republican Governors’ Association meeting in Florida. The CNN anchor first brought up a recent New York Times article, with its accompanying exaggerated map, about conclusions that the Democratic Party might draw from the recent election: "You know, as you look at this map and you start to look at the South, there was some suggestion in that New York Times article, for example, that maybe Democrats are going to get from this that you know what, they can win in the future without the South."
On Monday night’s edition of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, radical MSNBC/Air America talk show host Rachel Maddow rehashed the antiquated argument that since conservatives do not believe in the existence of government, they should not be allowed to run the government: "I like vegans, but it’s like letting a vegan be your butcher. If you have somebody that is really against the idea of providing you the service that you have hired them for, they are going to be bad at providing that service." (Vegans are the most ardent vegetarians, the ones that don't even consume animal products like milk or eggs.)
Typically letting his conservative disguise slip, Colbert joked that Hurricane Katrina was a Bush success, since they wanted to show "the government was able to do nothing."
Wearing the kind of thick nerdy glasses that advertise her self-described reputation as a "policy dork," Maddow was half-joking that she believes in government, that "we only have one and we should try to make it a good government," sparking this exchange:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen asked former Bush speech writer David Frum about recent attacks on Sarah Palin by McCain campaign staffers: "What do you make of Sarah Palin's response to those anonymous attacks?" Frum strongly defened her: "I think she's entirely within her rights on this one. You know, I was a critic of her nomination, but everybody is entitled to some basic fairness and the stories that have been released about her most recently are not only incredible on their face..." Frum was indeed a critic of Palin, calling her nomination a "huge mistake" during an October 13 Early Show appearance.
This time, Frum dismissed Palin’s opponents: "And you often get people seeking advantage by denigrating those above them. And then there's just the sheer human joy in mischief... there's sometimes just a human joy in cruelty." He also criticized the media coverage of the rumors: "And they are also, I think, a real problem in our rules in media. I mean, it should be a rule that if somebody is anonymous they shouldn't be allowed to criticize somebody else by name, because then we can't evaluate them, who they are, their motives, whether they're telling the truth."
On Friday’s Newsroom program, as CNN awaited Barack Obama’s first press conference as president-elect, correspondent Joe Johns outlined how Rush Limbaugh was apparently "back on the radio breathing fire, taking Obama and his now-named Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the woodshed." He then played a clip of Limbaugh labeling Emanuel a "good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug."
Limbaugh actually might not be the first to use the "Chicago thug" label for Obama. The Politico, in an August 27, 2008 article by John F. Harris, cited a "longtime associate" of a certain former Democratic president: "Bill Clinton believes the Democratic nominee, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of ‘a Chicago thug.’" CNN apparently was unaware of this report, since it wasn’t mentioned during the segment.
Brent Bozell, president of the Conservative Victory Committee, as well the publisher of NewsBusters and MRC president, appeared on Friday's America's Newsroom program on Friday and discussed a recent meeting he hosted with the leaders of other conservative organization: "The purpose was to look at the election results and take stock of where we are and where we're going" [audio available here].
As he pointed out in his Fox & Friends segment earlier in the morning, he stated how voters thought Barack Obama was the fiscal conservative in the presidential race. He also emphasized how "conservatives didn't play a role in this campaign."
MRC President and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared during two segments on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" Friday morning to discuss the "O effect," or Oprah Winfrey's impact on the election of Barack Obama, and how the media has helped spread rumors about Sarah Palin from anonymous McCain campaign consultants. Bozell repeatedly called these nameless sources for the rumors "nameless, faceless cowards" [audio of both segments available here].
During the first segment, the MRC president had the following answer on whether Oprah's support actually helped Obama: "It did help him out, you know -- incoming memo, she's a liberal who supports Barack Obama. Everbody knew it." He pointed out how daytime host wouldn't have Sarah Palin on as a guest. He also highlighted how Hollywood supported Obama financially, but Obama was disciplined enough to minimize their public support.
CNN anchor Campbell Brown introduced a segment on Thursday’s Election Center program by contrasting the "[p]eople all over the world dancing in the streets" over the election of Barack Obama to the "really, really angry" reaction of conservatives, which she then labeled "right-wing rage." A graphic with the same label flashed on-screen, accompanied by a picture of Obama smiling.
During the segment, which aired just after the bottom-half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, CNN correspondent Joe Johns played an audio clip of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh as an example of such "rage." Limbaugh, who reacting to the appointment of liberal Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, called Emanuel a "good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug," and gave an anecdote about how Emanuel used a steak knife to demonstrate his own anger towards Bill Clinton’s enemies after the 1992 election. Johns’ reply after the clip: "So if you were thinking the country is now unified, think again. There are still deep divisions."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner decided to try to define patriotism: "In reality, there may be no more loaded concept in the American political lexicon...The election will be a referendum on patriotism. One of campaign '08's central and most contentious issues." Teichner talked to liberal Brookings Institution analyst William Galston about the history of that "loaded concept": "It wasn't a question of one party or the other. It was President Truman, after all, who revived the idea of loyalty oaths and the legitimacy of imposing them." In the spirit of bipartisanship Teichner added: "Then there was Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. His extremist views on loyalty and patriotism made his name synonymous with the political witch hunts of the 1950s."
Teichner went on to conclude: "Each side's arguments have hardened over time and become weapons in partisan battles." Her example: "Look at the damage the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did to Senator John Kerry's presidential ambitions in 2004. Over the question of his patriotism." Teichner then examined a different take on patriotism: "Steven Johnston teaches political theory at the University of South Florida. He is outnumbered, but not alone, in believing that patriotism is actually a bad thing, harmful to democracy."
Appearing on MSNBC shortly after 1 p.m. EST with anchor Andrea Mitchell, The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein rebuked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for drawing a legitimate criticism of President-elect Obama's choice of what he described as the "sharp-elbowed" Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief-of-staff (see video embedded at right, transcript is below page break).
Mitchell dismissed as "warfare" and Brownstein hit as "reflexive partisanship" Boehner's rather mild statement:
This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.
During a special post-election edition of American Morning on early Wednesday morning, CNN correspondent Carol Costello seemed to be confused as to what California’s proposed Proposition 8 would do and hinted that she was opposed to the effort. The initiative would amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex "marriage." Costello first stumbled as she tried to explain the proposition: "These are the results that we have -- voting yes means you -- you would overturn -- voting yes means there would be a ban on same-sex marriage -- that's 52%. The no votes have 48%." She then continued as to when the results would be certain, and gave a hint as to where she stood on the issue: "We probably won't be able to call that until much later this afternoon, although we do remain hopeful." [audio excerpt here]
Co-anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s segment, which began 23 minutes into the 4 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, and stated how, besides the presidential race, "from same-sex marriage to abortion, there were some hot-button issues on state ballots across the country, and our Carol Costello has been tracking the results of those." Costello actually focused on the same-sex "marriage" ballot questions during her report and didn’t mention anything of the other issues.
The co-hosts of Wednesday’s "CBS Early Show" used as many glowing adjectives as they could think of in reporting Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, with Harry Smith leading the way:
"America votes for change. Barack Obama elected the 44th President of the United States after a decisive victory over John McCain. The nation opens a new era, a powerful moment in history."
Maggie Rodriguez described what it was like to be at Obama’s victory speech in Chicago: "I have to say that to be here last night for that moment was to live history, it was a privilege...the sea of waving American flags and feeling the euphoria and the emotion that was emanating from that crowd here last night...a chilling victory speech, it -- it left people here just speechless, it was breath-taking."
In the 8:30AM half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez led live coverage of Barack Obama voting in Chicago and asked Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "Bob, how must he be feeling right now?" A choked up Schieffer replied: "Well, I mean, this is a -- this is a remarkable moment in American history. Stop and think about this, 150 years ago there were 31 million people who lived in this country, 4 million of those people were slaves, 4 million people. And, today, here you have an African-American who may be elected president of this country. This is not -- people keep talking about the American people may be ready to turn a page, but it's not just a political page, this is a page of American history." Rodriguez agreed: "Absolutely."
Co-host Harry Smith joined the coverage and actually wondered if Obama was voting for himself: "I'm wondering, I would love to ask him afterwards whether or not he voted for himself...Because having voted in school elections and stuff like that, we were taught as kids sometimes you vote for the other guy because that's how -- that's how -- it's an honorable thing to say that 'I honor your presence here. This was a battle well fought.' And I would be very interested to know whether or not he voted for himself." A realistic Schieffer replied: "I'm betting he did." Smith responded: "Yeah, I'm betting he did. I'm just bringing up a question."
Pat Buchanan just snatched the security blanket from conservatives and stomped on it. Contemplating the prospect of an electoral loss, some conservatives are consoling themselves by imagining that the political pendulum will soon start swinging back their way.
Buchanan doesn't think so, and his very first words on the matter this morning explain why: "demography is destiny." Buchanan offered his analysis during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe.