For book sale purposes...
Tongues will surely be wagging shortly about recently revealed audio tapes of George W. Bush talking before his Presidency about the potential campaign, discussing everything from fellow candidates to how faith plays a part in politics. And to everyone's surprise, the person with the tapes is selling something...
Having read the content - a great big yawn is forming. Sure, it's a little interesting to hear Bush before he was elected - twice - to discuss the prospect and politics around a Presidential campagin. But Bush emerges - as Bush. He expects fair play from fellow Republicans, is honest about his faith, and suprisingly candid about anti-homosexual politics among some circles.
...Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?"
Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."
"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."
While Bush has taken alot of heat from some conservative/libertarian gay circles for supporting a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, it's seems clear that in candid moments, he understands the difference between gay baiting and gay bashing.
The picture of the President revealed is no different than the one we already have. More tapes may come out - especially if the author has more books to sell. But in the meantime, this seems more a curiousity than real revelation.
At least he held his tongue until after the election...
John McCain took a swipe at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, going so far as to say he has "no confidence" in Rumsfeld.
McCain clarified that he does not mean that he wants his resignation - though you'd think one would be a natural extension of the other. However, this backtstab by McCain is simply a larger outgrowth of the clinical addiction to denial that the Congress has on defense matters.
There is much to honestly criticize Rumsfeld and the administration on, both in general defense policy and in handling Iraq. However, the two most repeated harangues are that we don't have enough troops there, and we shouldn't have disbanded the Iraqi Army after Hussein's regime fell - a combination of denial of responsibility and feckless hindsightedness.
The dirty little secret about Iraq is - we don't have any more troops to send. Yep - it's true. The only way we can keep up a troop rotation is to cap the number of forces sent into Iraq. Any more, and you can't rotate them out - rotation requires replacement. Even now, we have stop-loss policies keeping servicemen past their notmal deactivation date - why? Because we have no choice. So for Congress to demand accountability of Bush and Rumsfeld is to deflect their own - who appropriates the money for the armed forces? The point is not to absolve the White House, but to demonstrate the Congress in it's appropriations and oversight capacity has ample opportunity to address these issues by making changes, not just statements.
As to the Iraqi Army, this is another meme that is gaining traction among Congressmen and Senators as they opine on the state of Iraq. It has now become almost de rigeur to state that dissolving the Iraqi army was a mistake - and an easy statement to make, because it is offered as a panacea for current difficulties, and carries no burden of having any of it's logical consequences analyzed. So let's analyze them - the Iraqi army, the corrupt functionary of Saddam that kept Iraq under it's boot, was never going to be accepted as legitimate by the Shia and Kurds. So - we could use the strongman's corrupt force as our own, and alienate 80% of the Iraqi population, or we could disband it and start from scratch, and have trouble with the 20% of Sunni's likely to make trouble for any attempt at government reformation. Seeing how difficult fighting the Sunni insurgents has been, does anyone wish to trade that for wholesale uprising among Shia and a cold shoulder from the Kurds? And is there any compunction about using that corrupt force, wielding that murderous group the same way Saddam did?
Hindsight never has the burden of having to prove itself...
Vice President Dick Cheney apparently unloaded on Senator Pat Leahy - dropping an armed F-Bomb on the Senator during heated discussions during a photo shoot.
No word on if the transcript will be considered protected under executive privilege...
Boys will be boys...
House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Republican Senator John McCain had a verbal balloon fight underscoring historical conflicts between the Congressional chambers and long running friction between Republican factions.
Hastert started the nonsense, jumped into a hole, and not finding himself in deep enough, started digging. To suggest to John McCain that he needs a refresher on the sacrifice soldiers make in war is preposterous. Feeling a bit chippy and surrounded by his GOP posse, Hastert played wiseacre and took ill-advised shots at McCain.
McCain for his part was more measured, but still didn't take the highest road. To suggest Hastert doesn't value fiscal policy because he supports reduced taxes is folly. With deficit projections falling due to economic growth, the faith put into reduced taxes for long term fiscal health is medicine that seems to be working.
Both would be well advised to keep differences civil and behind the curtain, recalling Reagan's commandment to never speak ill of a fellow Republican...
Blessed with perfect hindsight, Pinkerton says it was Bin Laden in the Trade Towers with the Airliner...
Perhaps the sickliest polemic written yet, this Newsday column is a new low in intellectual dishonesty.
At every turn this ill-informed rant either misrepresents the facts or requires a carnival funhouse mirror in order to warp appearances. Japan determined to attack the US? This lame attempt at equivalence? Japan had not attacked the United States prior, whereas Al Qaeda had a long history of open warfare. From declaring the PDB memo a "blunt warning" to somehow interpreting Bin Laden's "determination" as specific actionable intelligence, this screed comes off like the guy at the end of the movie who blithely remarks how it should have been obvious whodunit. With hindsight, claims of the blindingly obvious come easy, as well as claims to have been able to find the needle in the stack of needles. Since it was so clearly spelled out, it surely was a mistake not to abandon all overseas intelligence and only focus on this particular assessment of Bin Laden's "determination" - cancel the surveillance overseas boys, don't bother with the suitcase nukes or bioweapons concerns...
"Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside The United States" - to proclaim this a warning of any specificity requires the belief that the reader doesn't consider it outright obvious.
The heroic depiction of Ben-Veniste, so cleverly tricking Rice into betraying the title of a classified memo - if only Robert Novak could have tricked his source into giving up Valerie Plame's name on national television, I mean as long as we're scorecarding pure genius in handing out classified information. I'd give cash to find whatever prattle was dished out on that topic.
It's clear the author has a mind of concrete - all mixed up and permanently set. When the next ads for Bush show the WTC, and the Republican convention comes around showing the President at Ground Zero, I sure hope Pinkerton has his webcam set up so we can see the vein in his forehead pop.
The 9/11 commission is more interested in being seen asking questions, than in getting answers...
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission today brought into stark relief how very wrong this commission has gone.
Listening to the normally sane Sen. Bob Kerrey rant and rave on Iraq to open his questions to Rice, then bleat about his lack of time, is outright laughable. Richard Ben-Veniste acted as if he was a cross examining a street thug:
BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...
BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...
RICE: I would like to finish my point here.
BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.
RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.
BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.
RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
Uncle Ben-Veniste can't handle his Rice. He is yet another 9/11 commission questioner more engaged in grandstanding rhetorical questioning than in hearing an answer.
Why on Earth are commission members appearing on TV talk shows opining on the testimony? The unfortunately named Jamie Gorelick is on Hardball this evening throwing Rice under the bus. This should be intolerable. This commission should have two spokesmen - the chairs - and no talking heads. It is outrageously prejudicial to have these members spinning their views before all of the testimony is complete.
Who can honestly say that the members of this commission aren't politically driven to their positions? The unseriousness of the commission is further reinforced by the amatuerish, inappropriate applause from the gallery. This isn't Springer, folks. Kerrey had the good sense to try and quiet it. The families in the audience are in danger of transitioning from figures of tragedy to simply tragic figures.
It seems apparent that nothing will come out of this commission except a partisan report that attempts to blame the opposite party for 9/11, rather than the murdering thugs who are truly responsible. From Hell, they spitefully cackle with glee as the political backbiting and attempted opportunism devolves into a spectacle worthy of the Roman mob.
This commission has become a feast of Atreus.
Clarke learning the Martha Stewart lesson - beware fibbing to the G...
It appears now that the White House will, at it's discretion, declassify Richard Clarke's testimony before the Congress from 2002. Clarke's pithy defense of 'selling the administration line' will look a little less smarmy when Hastert uses the word 'perjury'.
Unsure what will be found, other than confirming what Richard Clarke's egotism so effectively proves:
Bush's chief terror failing was his failing terror chief...
All the world's a stage, and Clarke insists on his 15 minutes on it...
There is always something just a little unseemly about tell-all books - they portray an image always contrary to the public view of the subject (nobody buys a book affirming what is already thought to be common knowledge), and at the end, the reader usually is left with the invariable question of association. How can you justify being around that which you now proclaim to hold in contempt?
Richard Clarke seems no exception... his political shiv job on the Bush administration, like O'Neill's, comes across as a tantrum of a fair-haired child now out of favor. When his face time with the most powerful man on the earth went away, he seemed disinclined to continue to cast his pearls before swine. From the ingratiating nature of his opening remarks to the 9/11 commission, to his prismatic examination of the past, Clarke's argument seems to be his only failing is his inability to convince others of his certitude to the extent that he has clearly convinced himself.
Let's be clear - the blame for 9/11 rests solely and irrevocably on the shoulders of 19 dead extremist murderers and their cohorts and directors in Al Qaeda. Yet peering out of his testimony and any discussion of his book is the pink elephant in the room - how can one stand in harsh critique of the administration that has numerous accomplishments in actual terror policy, but attempt to divorce oneself from any role in the feckless non-response over a decade of terrorist attacks that led up to 9/11?
Relative obscurity and being odd-man out in the new Homeland Security Department were too small a box for a self-importance as large as Clarke's.