The Sunday Morning Talk Shows: The Review


On ABC’s This Week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger blamed President Reagan for sabotaging Jimmy Carter’s “great energy plan.” He also instructed voters not to buy into what John McCain says on the campaign trail, as he would when elected “mold his ideas” with those of the Dems to create compromise.

Arnold said: “I think that Senator McCain should be campaigning in Caleefornia. … He has a very good shot [at winning the State].”

On Fox News Sunday, the show was dedicated to Tony Snow. Vice President Dick Cheney remarked that Tony was a “major player in the conservative movement,” one of the very few with experience “on both sides of the divide.” In the next segment, three journalists talked about Tony: Brett Baier, Martha Raddatz, and Mike Allen.

At NBC, Tom Brokaw starred on this week’s MTP. Claire McCaskill was the Obama surrogate, while Carly Fiorina was there for McCain. They all discussed how bad the economy was, with Fiorina relating that Phil Gramm would no longer be speaking for John McCain. McCaskill implied that Obama had never used the 16-mont timeline.

On CBS, FTN host Bob Schieffer discussed a New York Times piece asserting that we were about to start a rapid withdrawal from Iraq. Carl Levin said that it was about time and that the Senate wanted to get out now. Lugar agreed, adding that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is going along because he is up for reelection. Both men want lots and lots of sanctions to be placed against Iran, with Levin arguing that we need Russian cooperation so should scrap the missile shield.

Next on FTN, Ed Gillespie explained that the latest evaluation period is coming to an end, so this is perhaps why we are seeing leaks from anonymous sources.

On CNN, LE host Wolf Blitzer first spoke to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, interrupting the man repeatedly in an attempt to make the point that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sides with Barack Obama’s 16-month timetable for withdrawal of John McCain’s approach which would consult our generals and base withdrawal on conditions on the ground. Maliki would have none of this, emphasizing that things had improved to the point where we could now realistically discuss an end to the war.

Blitzer then argued with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford over whether there were any differences between Bush and McCain on the economy, pointing out that they used to disagree about the Bush tax cuts before McCain flipped.

Read on for the Show-by-Show review:ARNOLD ON TW. On ABC, host George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week spoke to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – first, of course, about the environment. Arnold said that he wouldn’t believe the Bush Administration if it suddenly decided to show concern for the environment, as it hadn’t cared for the previous seven years. He criticized President Bush for the mindset of doing nothing to stop global warming simply because India and the PRC are doing nothing. Explained Arnold: “That’s not how we put a man on the moon.” (It has put the governor in orbit, but I won’t go there.)

Arnold applauded John McCain for leaving the matter of offshore drilling to the discretion of the States. Said Arnold of Caleefornia, “We have no interest in offshore drilling.” He explained that drilling will not reduce prices overnight and anyone he says it will is lying.

Arnold told Steph that Jimmy Carter came into the White House with a “great energy plan” – including solar and wind – but Ronald Reagan came in the scrapped it. Under Reagan, Arnold averred, “we went off course.”

Steph played a clip of Arnold from the 2004 Republican National Convention, in which Arnold accused those who spoke constant doom and gloom about the economy of being “economic girly men.” (NOTE: Though neither man mentioned it, it struck me that Arnold’s was a less educated and more impolitic way of saying what Phil Gramm uttered the other day about the “mental recession.”) Steph asserted that the “pessimists were right.” Arnold said that they were wrong, that there were things the government of Caleefornia was doing to repair the housing crisis. Steph pointed out that they were doing nothing on a federal level, as that legislation was stalled, and Arnold offered: “We have a big problem in Washington. It’s too polarized.”

Steph offered that this was bad for McCain, as he would have to work with a Dem Congress and it would be impossible to create compromise. Arnold then said of McCain: “This is what I love about the guy.” He’s willing to reach across the aisle and forget compromise. Steph pointed out that McCain had made a lot of partisan statements on the campaign trail, and Arnold responded: “What he said in a President campaign is one thing,” but what he will do is another. When elected, McCain will “mold his ideas” with those of Dems to create compromise. This is how he described McCain’s record, and he said that this was more meaningful than the rhetoric.

Steph told Arnold that his views were actually more in line with Obama’s than with McCain – on abortion, on gay marriage, on Iraq, etc. Arnold explained that though he favored a timeline in Iraq, it was one dictated by reality. Arnold said that his timeline was much longer than Obama’s and that he would be willing to accept troops in Iraq in some capacity for a long time. Arnold indicated that he would agree with McCain’s 100-years if that was what we needed.

Arnold said: “I think that Senator McCain should be campaigning in Caleefornia. … He has a very good shot [at winning the State].” He stressed that Indies were overtaking both Dems and Republicans in the State.

Steph wanted to ask Arnold about the utility of McCain picking a veep from Caleefornia, pointing out that Arnold himself was not Constitutionally eligible. Arnold responded anyway: “I have no interest in that job.” He said that there were plenty of talented, young people in Caleefornia from whom McCain could select, but he offered no names.

DICK CHENEY ON FNS. Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday, scrapped his interview with T. Boone Pickens to do a program devoted to remembering the late Tony Snow. For this, he interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney proclaimed that Tony was a “major player in the conservative movement,” one of the very few with experience “on both sides of the divide.”

On Tony’s conservatism, Cheney said that he “frankly agreed with him on almost everything,” and that Snow “understood the purposes of government, and that they were limited.”

Tony Snow, he said, “relished every day.”

JOURNALISTS DISCUSSION OF SNOW ON FNS. In studio, Wallace had FNC’s White House correspondent Brett Baier, ABC News’ White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, and Mike Allen of Politico.com.

Baier related that the tone in the White House press room was “dramatic” when Tony became press secretary. Tony came along, he said, when the Administration “was taking shots from all directions,” and needed a strong advocate.

Raddatz agreed, and smiled that another part of Snow’s skill was his ability to look good on television, admitting that he looked better than did the press corps.

Mike Allen spoke of Snow remarking that “optimism can be part of the cure.”

BROKAW, FIORINA, AND MCCASKILL ON MTP. With Tom Brokaw hosting, RNC 2008 Victory Chair Carly Fiorina and Missouri Governor Claire McCaskill. He started them off by asking about Phil Gramm’s “mental recession” quip. He asked Fiorina if Gramm had yet been fired from the campaign, and she answered that McCain had joked about sending Gramm to Belarus and that McCain believes that this country is in a recession. [The term “recession” now means whatever the media tells us that it means at any given time and for whatever reason.] Americans are hurting when they purchase gas or groceries. She said that she does not think that Gramm will “any longer be speaking for Senator McCain.” Fiorina added, interestingly, that outside the Beltway, most Americans are interested in what the candidates themselves on saying, not on “what a bunch of surrogates are saying.” (So. There.)

Fiorina said that both McCain and “all Democrats” believe that “the first and most important priority of the federal government [in relation to the economy] is to protect its citizens.” She added that it is “clear that government has a role in creating jobs and getting the economy going again.” (This is what the media wants to hear.)

Brokaw seem to boast that the economy had worsened so quickly that it had to have overtaken the war as the top issue of the McCain campaign.

Carly Fiorina wore a yellow top with a white box on the front, severed at the top for a slit in place of a plunging neck line.

Brokaw suggested that the Dems use what Brokaw see as McCain’s shifts on the Bush tax cuts, global warming, and Phil Gramm as a campaign commercial, and he even specified the script he’d like to see for such a commercial. Fiorina answered that McCain had his own tax cut package when Bush proposed his, and he had voted against the President’s because there was no concomitant “fiscal restraint.” She added that Obama had disowned “his own pastor of twenty years.”

Brokaw asked McCaskill nicely about Obama and Iraq, showing a clip of Barry explaining why his position had not changed his position on Iraq. Then he played Barry’s later-the-same-day (July 3) “clarification.” He asked if Obama would stick to his 16-month timetable. McCaskill said that Barry had always wanted only to get out “as carefully and as quickly as possible,” implying that he never used the 16-month timetable. She added that “no commander-in-chief is would ever say, ‘I’m not gonna listen to the guys on the ground.'”

McCaskill accused McCain on flip-flopping on how he would assess the job the President is doing in Iraq, saying that he used to be gung-ho pro-Bush but now, as the election nears, he is distancing himself.

Brokaw accused McCain of lying when he said that he would fight two wars, deal with all the economic crises, and balance the federal budget. Fiorina said that there is a plan to do just that once the economy gets growing again at “somewhere between two and three percent.” She said that this could be done by creating the right environment for job creation, which means not raising taxes and not sliding into isolationism. She said that we have “a lot of opportunities for cutting spending.”

Brokaw pointed out to McCaskill that Democrats have been complaining about the cost of the war when some aver that Democrats would spend the same amount of money on something else.” And that Barry has no way to pay for what he is promising. McCaskill insisted that he has ways to pay for what he is promising and that he won’t raise taxes of anyone earning less than $250,000. He’s merely going to raise the tax rates of the “sliver at the top” to pre-Bush levels. She alleged that John McCain’s tax policy “was drafted in a corporate board room,” while Barry’s tax policy was drafted “at a kitchen table.” (And the Laffer Curve was reportedly drawn on a restaurant napkin, Claire.)

McCaskill spoke of a “War Dividend,” the money government will not be spending in Iraq after Barry gets out.

And Tom Brokaw sounded as if he would fall asleep.

DICK LUGAR AND CARL LEVIN ON FNS. On CBS, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer talked to the leaders of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman Carl Levin (from Detroit) and ranking member Dick Lugar. The topic? Is the US getting out of Iraq on a timetable?

Levin talked about a New York Times piece asserting that the US would quicken withdrawal from Iraq, and Levin said that a majority of the Senate has voted for a “redeployment” on a “timetable.” It will force the Iraqi government to work out its problems, he said. He sees “a number of indications” that the withdrawal will quicken, based on comments from Secretary Gates and General Petraeus. He then listed people dying and money being spent in Iraq.

Lugar agreed with Levin, adding that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has to push this because he is running for reelection. Also, he said, Maliki is “having a problem with the oil agreement,” as the Kurds are making their own oil deals. Lugar added that we ought to “move troops out of Iraq” not only to put them in Afghanistan, but also to “relieve the strain, which is intense.”

Levin complained that the Afghan border is open to terrorists from Pakistan. He complained that NATO has to send more troops and they have to actually fight the terrorists at the border.

Levin wants to tighten the sanctions around Iran, and he demanded that Russia be a part of it. He said that we should stop “pushing off Russia in a number of ways.” We should drop the missile defense shield, as it antagonizes the Russians, Levin averred.

Lugar favors “more sanctions” against Iran and “more world involvement.”

ED GILLESPIE ON FTN. Ed Gillespie was next on FTN to discuss the passing of Tony Snow, and he said that a quicker withdrawal was “always a possibility,” as Generals Petraeus and Odierno were always assessing conditions on the ground, and that it was the goal of the Administration to bring our troops home.

Gillespie said that the latest evaluation period is coming to an end, so this is perhaps why we are seeing leaks from anonymous sources.

MOWAFFEK AL RUBAIE ON LE On CNN, Late Edition host Wolf Blitzer’s first question for Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie concerned the New York Times article. Rubaie said that it wasn’t true, and that they would work on a framework and agreement. Blitzer interrupted him, saying that the Washington Post had reported that since this couldn’t be done during the Bush Administration, they would need a “bridge agreement.”

Rubaie explained that these were important issues, and things have improved greatly. And now “we can see the end of al Qaeda.” Blitzer tried to interrupt him again. He quoted Maliki as talking about a timetable, and Rubaie explained that they were developing this plan with the U.S. government. We were not talking about exact dates; rather, because they could see the end, they could talk about it. He talked about “what is going to happen this year and the year after.” Rubaie praised the Iraq forces, saying that they are now taking care of seventy-five percent of the security in Iraq.

Blitzer interrupted him with Obama responding to Maliki. Obama said “in cooperation with Iraq, it’s time for U.S. forces to set a timetable for withdrawal.” Blitzer reminded that Obama’s timetable for withdrawal was 16 months. Rubaie said that he understands that words like “withdrawal” and “timetable” are radioactive and could not have been used only several years ago. [NOTE: They were used several years ago, by almost the entire House and Senate Dem caucuses.) He said that they “should not be as toxic as they were.” Wolf interrupted him to point out that the words were uttered by the prime minister of Iraq, not someone else.

Wolf said that Rubaie and Maliki were saying that they agreed with Obama, and moving against John McCain’s idea that withdrawal would be based on conditions on the ground. Rubaie blew that off and explained that there has been much progress in Iraq and it was about time to start discussing Iraq having independent control of its country.

MARK SANFORD ON LE. Next, Blitzer spoke to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, “said to be on John McCain’s short list to be his vice President.” Wolf said that the Iraqis “now want a timetable,” resisting Bush-McCain’s intention to have it be conditions on the ground. Sanford explained that there was “a lot of vacillation” and “nuances” in the Rubaie interview, as he was trying to offend neither McCain nor Obama. Sanford himself does not think there should be a timeline, as withdrawal should be determined by conditions on the ground.

Wolf played Phil Gramm’s “mental recession” and “nation of whiners” comment and asked Sanford if Gramm “should be dumped from this campaign.” Sanford said no; the main question was whether McCain repudiated Gramm’s comment and was his expertise otherwise worthwhile. He called Gramm’s comment, “out of touch with reality.”

Blitzer asked if there were “any significant differences” between Bush and McCain on economic policy. Sanford searched for something and drew a blank – “I hate when I do that, on television” – then he mentioned NAFTA and earmarks. Blitzer explained that there was no difference between Obama and Bush on NAFTA, and Sanford said that he had been “going to a point” which brought up a difference between McCain and Obama. Wolf asked for any other issue than earmarks on which McCain and Bush differed. Sanford said that there were a number of different issues, such as the steel bill. Blitzer brought up that they differed on the Bush tax cuts initially but McCain has shifted.

Sanford talked of the Farm Bill, how Obama wanted to continue to throw benefits to wealthy farmers while both Bush and McCain wanted to limit them.

Wolf asked if the vetting process had begun for Sanford. The answer: No.

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Now have at it, 3.0 style.