The Sunday Morning Talk Shows: The Review


Sunday, July 27, 2008

On ABC’s This Week, John McCain stressed his bipartisan skills, his ability to “reach across the aisle to Democrats.” He stressed that we should leave Iraq when conditions dictate, not on some arbitrary timetable.

On FOX News Sunday, Dem Senator Claire McCaskill said that Obama’s 16-month timetable was only a “goal,” subject to change based on conditions. Republican Senator John Thune referred to Obama’s recent jaunt through Europe as a “flashbulb tour.”

Next on FNS, Karl Rove rated Obama’s jaunt as a plus in the short term but much less in the longer term. He said that Obama’s speech in Germany was “soaring,” to be sure, but “there was no there there.”

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Obama repeated that if he is elected, everyone will love us and the Arabs and the Europeans would drop their generations-old hatreds and prejudices regarding the United States of America and our position in the world. There would be a great harmonic convergence and love between our bothers and our sisters all over this land.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Chuck Hagel attacked McCain for attacking Obama. Jack Reed said that McCain “should not be waging this type of campaign.” Hagel said that he did not know if he will vote for his party’s Presidential nominee and his old friend, John McCain, or for his new buddy, Obama.

On CNN’s Late Edition, John McCain underscored his support for Israel. On immigration, he supported border security first, then a regulated temporary workers program and a path-to-citizenship for those illegals willing to undergo the process. He also asserted that he “knows how” to capture Osama bin Laden (deceased).

The Show-by-Show review begins beneath begins below.

JOHN MCCAIN ON TW. Host George Stephanopoulos’s guest on ABC’s This Week was Senator John McCain, who seemed almost completely at ease. (That’s a contrast, folks – not so much just with Obama as with just about everyone else.)

Steph proclaimed that the whole world was moving as one toward Barack Obama’s vision of a timeline for escape from Iraq. Even McCain, he said, had endorsed a timetable. John McCain didn’t remember using the word timetable, but made clear that he did not mean it in the Obama sense of timetable/date certain: “It is not a date. It’s conditions on the ground. … Anything is a good time if it’s dictated by conditions on the ground.” (NOTE: The timetable notion is even less of Obama’s creation than “conditions on the ground” is of McCainian origin. ) McCain maintained that Obama “doesn’t understand” the situation and his initial timetable plan would have had us out of Iraq last March, surrendering the country to Chaos and to the whimsies of al Qaeda and the Iranians.

McCain said that he would have liked to have been realistically able to give a date certain of yesterday, if we could have left a stable, self-governing Iraq with our troops having fought to a victory.

McCain explained that if he had wanted to do so, Obama could have visited our wounded soldiers in the Ramstein and Landstuhl military hospitals in Germany, only it would have been without the press. Nothing prevented him from visiting these soldiers. Obama didn’t, but he “certainly found time to do other things.”

McCain blamed Congress for our economic woes, saying that they’ve done nothing while these crises built. (He included himself as a part of Congress, of course.) And McCain said he would have voted for the recent housing bill had he been there.

McCain spoke of his legendary ability to “reach across the aisle to Democrats.” Steph asked him about social security, and McCain said that he wanted to do it the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil did back in the early Eighties. He said nothing would be off the table, and he would demand nothing. Though he would not like to see tax increases, he said, nothing would be off the table. (Will they bring back John Breaux to preside over this festival of bipartisanship?)

MCCASKILL AND THUNE ON FNS. Host Chris Wallace of FOX News Sunday brought in the surrogates: Senators Clair McCaskill for Obama and John Thune for McCain. McCaskill admitted that “there were some things about the Surge which did help,” but she concluded that “it wasn’t the silver bullet.” Thune pointed out that Obama still “refuses to acknowledge” that the Surge was a success.

Wallace averred that everyone seemed to be moving towards Obama’s concept of a timetable, even McCain. Thune argued that there is a growing consensus around McCain’s notion that withdrawal should be dictated by conditions on the ground.

Thune pointed out that we can discuss a withdrawal on favorable terms only because of the success of the surge. McCaskill argued that Obama’s 16-months for withdrawal demand is only a “goal,” subject to change based on conditions. (Something meaningless he tacked on to the strategy McCain advocates?) She also said that Obama has wonderful judgment that everyone now admires, adding that he is “leading the pack on Afghanistan.”

On Obama’s refusal to visit our wounded troops at the Ramstein and Landstuhl military hospitals in Germany, Thune pointed out that had he wanted to do so, Obama could have visited the troops without the press in tow. He dismissed Obama’s European adventure as a purely “flashbulb tour. He asserted that Obama, on this tour, had disagreed with General Petraeus, snubbed our wounded veterans, and continued to refuse to support the Surge despite its effects.

On the Veep question, Thune said that he does not aspire to be veep and has not been asked for info in any vetting process. McCaskill, on the other hand, said that she would be “thrilled” to be Obama’s running mate, adding that anyone who denies that they would be thrilled is lying.

KARL ROVE ON FNS. Karl Rove was up next for Wallace on FOX News Sunday. He called Obama’s European tour a mixed success. He pointed to Obama’s remarks to ABC News’ Terry Moran that he would still not support the Surge, despite hindsight telling him that it was successful. For the speech in Germany, Rove pointed out that “the crowd was big, but it was German.” He said that Obama’s speech was “soaring,” to be sure, but “there was no there there.” Overall, he sees the trip as a short term plus for Obama, but not so much in the long term.

Rove pointed to Obama’s arrogance in demanding to be treated as a POTUS, but he did not put him at the egregious level of a John Kerry. Kerry, he said, was the “stereotype of a European-oriented American leader,” while Obama does not fit that mold yet.

Wallace asked Rove about the lack of bounce for Obama after this trip, and Rove pointed out the doubts about Obama’s experience and fitness, his qualifications to be President.

Rove’s latest electoral map shows Obama leading in EV’s: 263 to 183. He forecast that over the next week, we could see Obama drop further.

Rove said that McCain should wait to pick his running mate until after Obama had picked his. He predicted that Obama would make his choice after the August vacation he discussed with British opposition leader David Cameron, who told Obama that he needed a vacation: “You need a break. Well, you need to be able to keep your head together.” (Obama isn’t President. If his head is so clearly not together when he is just campaigning, imagine how unglued he’ll become for world leaders if elected.)

As for Veeps, Rove thinks Mitt Romney is leading the GOP pack right now. He said Obama might want a veep from a red state, so he might go with McCaskill of Missouri.)

OBAMA ON MTP. Moderator Tom Brokaw of NBC’s Meet the Press talked to Obama in London. They were seated at a table with an image of Whitehall behind them, and Brokaw opened by listing Obama’s itinerary for the week past. Obama quipped: “It makes me tired just hearing you read it.”

Obama said that the trip confirmed his judgment regarding our strategies. He said that the “Sunni Awakening” had helped to lessen the possibilities that al Qaeda would reinstitute itself “as a big and effective force.” And he praised Prime Minister Maliki for being “ready to take on more responsibility for the security of their country.”

Brokaw read a few paragraphs of McCain’s Weekly Radio Address (text) questioning McCain’s judgment for stubbornly continuing to oppose the Surge even after it has proven to be successful. Brokaw asked Obama if the thought Maliki would be in a position to talk about a timetable if there had not been the Surge. Obama answered that we don’t know if things would have improved without the Surge. He added that he had always held that throwing additional U.S. troops at the problem, as if that alone were the Surge, “could temporarily quell the violence,” but if the Iraqi government didn’t come around, the Surge would do no good. He again credited the Sunni Awakening, “a political decision,” for the good things happening in Iraq. He pointed out that the Spring Awakening began before the Surge, which would have meant that the political unity about which he had complained when voting against the surge would not have been the problem he claimed it was.

Brokaw showed the results of the latest NBC News/WSJ poll (July 15-21), which showed McCain trouncing Obama, 2-1, in such categories as knowledge & experience and good commander-in-chief. Also, those surveyed deemed Obama to be the riskier choice for this November. This didn’t surprise Obama, but he is comfortable that he would do better in a poll asking who would bring change.

Obama’s lapel pin, possibly a depiction of an American flag, served only to reflect the studio lights into the camera lens. As such, it was an awful distraction.

Obama said that because of the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, European voters do not want to send troops to Afghanistan. Obama said that he wants to refocus, he wants to say that thought we have to be careful in drawing down troops in Iraq (in 16 months, take-it-or-leave-it, still?), we have to shift focus to Afghanistan and need European help.

Brokaw asked what happens to the troops he pulls out of Iraq. Obama said that we’ll have a “residual force” in Iraq and they’ll sit down and talk about the rest.

Obama declared that our military aid to Pakistan must go to fighting terrorists instead of today defenses against India, and to helping the Pak government “make a better life for the Pakistani people.” Obama said that if we make lives better for the Pakistani people, they will support our decisions in the region.

If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning. I’d hammer in the evening all over this land. I’d hammer out danger. I’d hammer out a warning. I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land. This was solid nonsense. His entire foreign policy is based on the notion that he will be revered and practice Hopechangehope, the world will love him, and everyone will change their generations-old attitudes.


CHUCK HAGEL AND JACK REED ON FTN. On CBS’ Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer spoke to Obama’s political props: Chuck Hagel and Jack Reid. Hagel believes that the central front in our war against terrorism is the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; further, he argued that we have to put more troops in there. He wants a new “trilateral policy,” with the governments of the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He wants to throw Iran and India into the mix, as well.

Reed thinks we have to put more forces in Afghanistan and that they’ll have to come from Iraq. He said that the Iraqi government’s view is now “converging” with the one he and Obama have held. He said that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in the tribal regions of Afghanistan. Schieffer asked him if we were losing in Afghanistan, and Reed explained that violence is increasing in the region.

Schieffer asked Reed if “the surge,” which he called the mere addition of troops to Afghanistan, has “contributed to a lessening of violence,” when combined with other dynamics. Schieffer asks why Obama cannot come out with a clear answer on this, and Reed said that Obama was clear and that Maliki agreed with Obama.

Hagel said that both McCain and Obama were smart and capable men who could lead our country, and that we need a bipartisan consensus to govern. He criticized McCain for attacking Obama’s motive, but he said that he talks to McCain often: “John’s better than that. … It’s just not responsible to be saying like that.” He predicted that the next President will inherit as many problems as Franklin Roosevelt inherited on Mach 4, 1933.

Jack Reed said he doesn’t think Obama would have brought cameras in to see the troops in the hospitals in Germany. He said that Obama made the wise choice not to go, as it would have been seen as political.

Hagel pointed out that Obama’s trip ceased being a political trip when he and Reed left. He said that Obama would have been criticized for using the soldiers as props on a campaign trips. He does not think McCain’s ad regarding this is “appropriate.”

Hagel said no one has talked to him about being Barry’s veep, but he expects Obama to choose someone in his own party. He thinks this country and the world are in crisis, so he would have to consider the offer if asked. Reed thinks he can best serve the nation, Rhode Island, and Obama as a U.S. Senator. He said that he has “thought about this.”

Schieffer predicted that things would get dirty from here on. Reed said that McCain should not be waging this kind of campaign.

Hagel proclaimed that things are worse in the Middle East than they were eight years ago, “by any measure.”

JOHN MCCAIN ON LE. Host Wolf Blitzer opened his show with an interview with McCain. The first thing McCain would do after being sworn in would be to sit down his national security staff and ask “how to keep the peace” and keep the country secure. He would also work to restore people’s trust on the government. On the economy, McCain would “reform out of control spending.” He said, “We have to act together.” Our government is at a “gridlock.” Both parties have to work together for the good of the nation, he said, such as creating new jobs and reducing the cost of energy. “A national mission to become independent of foreign oil.”

Blitzer asked McCain how he would capture Osama bin Laden (deceased). McCain said he wouldn’t telegraph anything, but he “knows how to do it,” to capture him and bring him to justice. He wants a trial to reveal to the world the “enormity of his crimes.” Wolf asked, and McCain suggested that we could move forward with a Nuremburg Tribunal-type court.

Blitzer cited Charles Krauthammer as writing that Nouri al Maliki had voted for Obama. McCain said that Maliki is a politician looking toward the next election, and that Maliki knows that our withdrawal must be conditions-based. He said that Obama does not understand the situation. McCain added that General Petraeus “strongly disagrees” with Obama’s timetable. Blitzer asks what if Maliki wants the troops out, and McCain said he knows Maliki and “he won’t.” Wolf asked why Maliki had said that eighteen months timetable sounded good. McCain replied that Maliki had said this “based on conditions on the ground.”

McCain has accused Obama of being willing to lose the war to win a political campaign. Blitzer quoted the star-struck Joe Klein of the infotainment glossy TIME as complaining that this statement was the most “scurrilous” he’s heard in all his years of this and that. McCain pointed out the Obama doesn’t grasp the situation, that he lacks the judgment to seek victory.

He referred to Iraq as a “stable, normal country,” but he conceded that “al Qaeda has not gone away.”

Wolf asked him what he would do if Israel destroyed the Iranian nuke facilities. McCain said that he would not go into hypotheticals, but that he is committed to assuring that there is not a second Holocaust. He added that he would move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

McCain said that once we have secured our borders, he wants to establish a “truly temporary worker problem” and to put some illegal aliens on a path to citizenship provided that they jump through the requisite hoops.

McCain wants to begin offshore drilling now, and he held that the President’s dropping of the executive order proscribing offshore drilling affected the oil futures market, bringing down the cost of oil.

Blitzer had a YouTube question. I think it was a snowman who said, “Hey, Vern” a lot.

McCain apologized for not discussing his Veep process, explaining that it wouldn’t be fair to those under consideration. He thanked Wolf for having him on, calling the interview in-depth and informative. (For what it’s worth, I liked Blitzer’s interview more than Stephanopoulos’s.)


Charles Krauthammer, as quoted by Brokaw on MTP:

“When John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices. Kennedy didn’t dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities. Reagan didn’t call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements.”

But neither Reagan nor Kennedy had the audacity and courage to call for Hopechangehope, the key to the survival of the human race, qua humanity, into the future, when we can board space ships and sail away to colonize stars.

Oh, have it.