MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004
MORE FROM THE GOOD SHIPWRECK TIMES: At the start of yesterdays Meet the Press, Russert asked Kerry a semi-dumb question:
RUSSERT: In the interest of candor and clarity, I want to give you a chance to answer a question right up top, and I promise well talk about the nuance later on. But the American people, I think, would like a yes or no answer: Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?Do the American people want a yes or no answer? We dont know, and neither does Russert. But most important policy questions dont lend themselves to one-word answers, as everyone except Russert surely knows. At any rate, asked for brevity, Kerry delivered. Here was his complete answer:
KERRY: I think the way the president went to war is a mistake.Russert wanted it short and sweet, and he got it. But Kerrys answer took all of twelve wordsand that was too much for the great New York Times. In todays paper, Jodi Wilgoren pens a hopeless account of Kerrys encounter with Russert:
WILGOREN: The interview did provide new fodder for Republican attacks on Mr. Kerry for avoiding direct questions. Three times, on questions about troop deployment, troop financing and whether he would pledge not to run for re-election if he failed to fulfill promises to create 10 million jobs and cut the deficit in half, Mr. Kerry said it depends on the circumstances or the situation.Tomorrow, well take a full look at those troubling instances where Kerry dared say that his future approach would depend on future circumstances. But only at the New York Times can writing this stupid appear in our presswriting in which a reporter simply announces that Kerry provided fodder for RNC spin. And only the Times could be so dumb at to say that twelve words are too many. But then, no one elseno one elseis as dumb as the great New York Times.
Weve tried to tell you, again and againthe Times is our most dysfunctional paper. At no other paper are writers so fatuous. And no other paper has spun so hard against Democratic White House hopefuls in our last two elections. As we said about Elisabeth Bumiller, so we say about Wilgorenif the Washington Times penned work this bald, they would quickly be laughed off the stage for their political bias.
Indeed, how inane is the Timesand how eager to spin? Just compare Wilgorens piece to Stephen Dinans report in the Washington Times. Is the Washington Times the Moonie rag? Youd hardly know from comparing these scribes. Dinan isnt dumb enough to complain when Kerry gives a 12-word answer. Nor is he dumb enough to assert that Kerry supported Republican spin. Today, our dumbest newspaper is Gothams Times, and the hapless Wilgoren has shown it again. Tomorrow, well take a look at the hideous way John Kerry provided that fodder.
RON KLAINS NO-NAME OFFENSE: In last Fridays Los Angeles Times, Ron Klain did what he seems to do besthe dumbly slimed his own Dem party. Ron was troubleddeeply concernedby the way Dems were mocking George Bush. Beware the temptation to snicker, he said. Then he laid out his complaint:
KLAIN: That is an important warning for those Democrats who have spent the days since President Bushs press conference making light of his invocation of the Almighty in the defense of his Iraq policy. Specifically, theyve been snickering over the presidents contention that freedom is the Almightys gift to every man and woman in this world.There they went again, Klain said. Dems were snickering at Bushs religion, mocking him with such terms as missionary and religious war. And yes, theyd simply been laughing at Bush. He said this again and again:
KLAIN: [P]rogressives should not belittle the notion that American foreign policy will support the objective of promoting God-given freedoms around the world.There they went again, dear readers! Democrats have been laughing at and belittling Bushs religion. This, of course, is standard-issue RNC cant, endlessly aimed against secularist Dems. But heres the problem: We can only find one Democrat who has used the terms Klain put into quotes. And that Dem wasnt belittling Bush. He was asking a quite valid question.
Lets start with Klains factual claimthe claim that Dems were using terms like missionary and religious war. Sorry, Nexis just doesnt support this. We can find no instance of any Democrat using the term missionary to discuss Bushs speech. And the Nexis archives show only one Dem using the term religious war in reaction to Bushs press conference. Thats former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, writing in Thursdays Salon.
In short, if Dems are using these troubling phrases, they seem to be doing so on the sly. Dems are using these phrases, Klain saysbut Nexis doesnt seem to have heard! And Blumenthal wasnt snickering at Bushhe was posing a quite valid question. Heres what he wrote at the end of his piece, posing a question Ron Klain wants to snuff:
BLUMENTHAL: At his press conference, Bush was a confusion of absolute confidence and panic. He jumbled facts and conflated threats, redoubling the vehemence of his incoherence at every mildly skeptical question. Whenever he could, he drove himself back to the safety of 9/11and then disclaimed responsibilityWas Blumenthal snickering, belittling, or laughing at Bush? Or was he making a valid point about Bushs ongoing religious statementsstatements in which the most powerful person on earth explains his recent military actions?
After watching last nights Sixty Minutes, we think the answer is obvious. Bob Woodward was clearly flummoxed by the odd religious statements Bush made in his interviews (more on this topic tomorrow). Its a citizens duty to ask about thisto see what we can learn about Bushs thinking. But Klain is eager to slime his partyto pretend theyre doing what they are not. Meanwhile, Klain is doing what sophists always do. Hes trying to snuff out real questions.
Readers, Ron Klain played the no-name offense. He made a sweeping characterization of Demswithout naming one single person who had behaved in the manner described! For ourselves, weve thought poorly of Klain for years because of the way he just luvs bashing Dems. But theres one bit of good news from Rons latest outing. Based on his latest well-scripted work, maybe Ron can get a good-paying job performing as the latest Fox Democrat.
MAYBE RON HEARD THIS: The New York Times David Sanger wrote this about Bushs speech: Facing a moment of political peril unlike any in the more than one thousand days of his presidency, George W. Bush made the case on Tuesday night for staying the course in Iraq with the language and zeal of a missionary and combined it with a stark warning that failure would embolden Americas enemies around the world. Thats a journalist, not a Dem, and Sanger was, on balance, quite respectful. But maybe when Ron heard those troubling words, it led him to do the thing he loves. Maybe Sangers troubling word led Ron to tell tales on Democrats.
RICE V. BUSH: Thanks to an alert e-mailer, heres one more highlight from Bushs press conference. Our reader emitted those low, mordant chuckles when President Bush said the obvious:
BUSH (4/13/04): Now, in the, whats called the PDB, there was a warning about bin Ladens desires on America.There was a warning! Why did our reader find that amusing? Because five days earlier, Condi Rice had hotly insisted that there wasnt a warning in that same PDB! We all recall the heartfelt testimony she gave to her nation, under oath
RICE (4/8/04): Commissioner, this was not a warning. This was a historic memo.Oh, what a difference five days makes! For the record, why did Bush say there was a warning, while Rice kept insisting this wasnt a warning? Simple! Bush was speaking straightforward English. Rice was deceiving the American public and making a joke of her oath.
Remember the crucial context. When Rice made her Bush-contradictin claim, the August 6 PDB was still classified. No one could check on the truth of her statements. So she did what comes natural; she lied in your faces. And as we saw on yesterdays shows, that is just fine with your press corps (more on this topic tomorrow).
For the record, Rice also made these odd statements as she spoke to the nation under oath:
RICE (4/8/04): You said, did it not warn of attacks? It did not warn of attacks inside the United States It did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.She said these things to Richard Ben-Veniste, who had to keep re-phrasing his question as he tried to coax a true statement from Rices slick lips. Result? Ben-Veniste was trashedand Condi was praised! Yep! Life is good when youre Condi Rice. Tomorrow, well let Chris Wallace prove it.