Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, November 29th, 2006.



Some researchers at the University of Kansas are compiling data on blogs and blog readers. You can help the cause by taking a brief survey. Click here and choose Mahablog from the drop-down menu. (I notice that Mahablog comes right after Little Green Footballs on the drop-down menu, but I’m trying to be big about it.) You will be anonymous, the researchers tell me.

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Bush Administration, Iraq War

I’m just finding out on MSNBC that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki didn’t show up for the big whoop-dee-doo meeting he was supposed to have with President Bush in Jordan today. This could be huge.

Update: Apparently there is still a meeting on for tomorrow. I think we’ll be hearing more about this.

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Civil Discourse

American History, Bush Administration, News Media

Speaking of etiquette and civility — there’s an odious little toad named Ed Rogers who is a Republican tool and a frequent guest on MSNBC Hardball. Last night’s program began with an interview of Jimmy Carter by David Shuster, and ended with this exchange (emphasis added):

SHUSTER: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We‘re back with Ed Rogers and Joe Trippi.

And Joe, I‘ve got to ask you, earlier in this—Jimmy Carter said that he would prefer if Al Gore ran for president again. I know that you would like Al Gore to run again, so what‘s your reaction?

TRIPPI: I think Al Gore should run. I mean, this is going to be a very important election, and when you look at the real issues that are out there, like global warming and this war in Iraq and this economy and the deficits we‘re running, Al Gore has been putting out a lot of bold ideas on a lot of those subjects and doing very well as a non-candidate.

The real question is, if he does become a candidate, does he start, you know, being the safe, cautious guy that he was when he was a public official. …

… SHUSTER: Given that Iraq is the dominant subject, why not Al Gore? I mean, do you really think he would be such an easy target for Republicans?

ROGERS: I love the idea of Jimmy Carter picking the next Democrat nominee. From one loser to another, from Jimmy Carter to Al Gore. That suits me.

I’m sorry I don’t have audio, because there was something about the way Rogers sneered out the word loser that just plain made me sick. I know we’ve all seen rightie operatives play this smear game thousands of times, but something about this exchange grabbed me more than usual.

If Rogers or any other Republican wants to say he disagreed with Jimmy Carter’s policies as president, or that Carter made mistakes, or that Carter’s administration was substandard, that’s one thing. That’s legitimate political opinion, whether I agree with it or not. But to insult the man as a loser — I mean, who the hell is pipsqueak Ed Rogers to call Jimmy Carter a loser? Carter is our oldest living former President. [update: Second oldest; I forgot Mr. Ford.] He’s a Nobel laureate, for pity’s sake. Ed Rogers doesn’t have to like him, but when speaking of the man in public, civil discourse requires showing the man some respect.

As for Al Gore — A lot of us were put out with Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, but his speeches and work since then have made him a champion of the values many of us hold dear. Still, assuming he’s still a potential candidate a little knocking around is expected. But why is it necessary to insult Jimmy Carter?

I think a little respect is in order when speaking about any elderly, living retired elected official on a television news show seen nationwide by a general audience, but especially a retired POTUS. If Rogers wants to badmouth Carter when conversing with other Republicans that’s his business. But I do not believe that, 40 years ago, someone speaking on a nationally broadcast television program would have insulted a living former President that way. The fact that Rogers does it and no one seems to mind is symptomatic of the deterioration of political discourse.

Rogers continues,

… But Al Gore is pretty tired. That‘s no new energy for the party. He‘s a lousy performer. I mean he—you know, Al Gore, plus 60 pounds, is he going to do better than he did in ‘04?

Nothing substantive about Gore’s stands on issues, notice. Instead, Rogers — who isn’t exactly Mr. Twiggy — makes fun of his weight. If my Mama had been watching this, she would have said somebody ought to teach Rogers some manners.

TRIPPI: And Ed, will all due respect, I mean, there were a lot of Republican losers in this past election. I mean, a couple of Republicans…

ROGERS: They weren‘t running for president.


ROGERS: We had a bad election. We lost a lot. That‘s over. Let‘s look at 2008. It is the Democrats‘ time to win. Historically, the Democrats—after eight years ago in power, the Democrats are supposed to win. But they can blow it. And they can blow it by Kerry. They can blow it by Clinton. They can blow it by Gore. We know what a winning Democratic nominee looks like. It looks like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They don‘t have a Clinton stylistically in this race.


TRIPPI: Well, there‘s a lot. Look, there‘s very strong field. John Edwards in this field. Look, I think when you look at what‘s going on, the Democrats are in good stead for 2008. Any one of the people that you mentioned or Ed‘s mentioned or that we talked about tonight can win against the Republicans.

And I agree with Ed on one thing. Usually what‘s supposed to happen in politics happens, and you don‘t usually have a two-term president being followed by a member of his own party…

ROGERS: That‘s true.

TRIPPI: … and particularly—unless it‘s somebody very popular, like a Reagan presidency, which got us George Bush I.

ROGERS: A third term.

TRIPPI: A third term.

It‘s not likely that the Republicans are going to pull this off, given George Bush‘s unpopular status right now, the failure in Iraq, particularly if he keeps doing what he‘s doing and staying the course, and you have people like John McCain the only way out is to put more troops in there, which is…

ROGERS: The Democrats are so arrogant. They…

TRIPPI: … this is why I think it‘s going to be a problem for them.

ROGERS: The Democrats never respect the legitimacy of their defeat. So when they lose an election, they always think it‘s because the other side cheated or some happened, never about their agenda. This time, they are overestimating the significance of their victory. They won in ‘06 because they did nothing, not because they did something. Their agenda is a loser, and that‘ll come through in ‘08 if they‘re not careful.

The Democrats are so arrogant? Holy bleep …

This is pretty standard stuff for Rogers. You’ve got Trippi, who is someone I don’t always agree with either, injecting somewhat substantive statements, and Rogers doing nothing but smearing Democrats. Notice there was no discussion (except for a passing mention of McCain) of potential Republican candidates in 2008. Just Rogers calling the Dems arrogant and loser. That’s pretty much all he ever does, yet he seems to be on cable news talk programs at least once or twice a week.

I just needed to rant.

While I’m on the subject of Jimmy Carter — I caught this snip in one of Joe Scarborough’s programs last week. Scarborough was talking about President Bush’s plummeting popularity and comparing the Bush White House to the Carter White House.

SCARBOROUGH: … It‘s enough to remind many voters of another president who, in the words of Elvis Costello, just couldn‘t stand up for falling down. In fact, things got so bad for Jimmy Carter that he was attacked on a fishing trip by a dreaded killer rabbit, a metaphor for an administration going nowhere fast, other than out of power. Welcome to the United States of malaise, 1979-style.

It‘s getting ugly out there, and to talk about how badly things are going for this president and the country, here‘s Phil Bronstein. He‘s the editor of “The San Francisco Chronicle.” We also have A.B. Stoddard with “The Hill” and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.

Craig, happy news out there—beatings, robberies, record low ratings, motorcade collisions. You‘ve got Iraq out of control. How much worse can things get for this president before they turn around?


Well, he can sing that old song, If it weren‘t for bad luck, I‘d have no luck at all.


CRAWFORD: It has been pretty rough. I‘ve got to agree with you about Jimmy Carter, although it pains me to do so. I worked in his White House and loved the guy. But his White House did unravel. And what happens is, you know, each story just sort of compounds on the next one and it becomes a story line that doesn‘t go away. It is like Gerry Ford falling down, and you know, Al Gore the serial exaggerator, John Kerry the flip-flopper. I mean, once the story line gets started, any little thing that can be attached to just becomes a train that can‘t be stopped.

SCARBOROUGH: And Craig, with Jimmy Carter, you, of course, had the Iranian hostage crisis and a terrible economy at the time. But then you‘d have the killer rabbit episode, and then Jimmy Carter would run a 10K and he‘d collapse.


Here there’s an interesting discussion of what went wrong in the Carter Administration. While I mostly agree with this discussion I want to skip ahead to this part:

SCARBOROUGH: You‘re right. With George W. Bush, it‘s been the arrogance, the arrogance to say he couldn‘t remember making a single mistake over his first four years.

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: People don‘t want to hear that.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, too arrogant to read the newspapers, too arrogant to listen to Colin Powell, too arrogant to listen to criticism, too arrogant to pick up the phone call and even talk to his father regularly about the war.

Craig, I want you to listen to this speech from Jimmy Carter. We‘re just going to play a clip.


JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.


SCARBOROUGH: Boy, Craig, that makes you want to get out there and wave the flag. Now…


CRAWFORD: … I‘ve got to say—first of all, you know, he never used word “malaise” in that speech, by the way.

SCARBOROUGH: No, he didn‘t. No, he didn‘t. Cold comfort, though, if you actually read the text of that speech.

CRAWFORD: And I thought that was one of the—I actually think that was a profound moment because a president telling—not telling the people what they want to hear. Now, we can debate that speech all we want, but that was one of the rare times you saw a president actually telling Americans what he thought—telling them something that he believed that wasn‘t something they wanted to hear, which I thought was kind of refreshing.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, but they threw him out for a…

STODDARD: I agree with Craig.

SCARBOROUGH: They threw him out for a guy who said America‘s best days really did lie ahead and…

CRAWFORD: I‘ll tell you—this man…

SCARBOROUGH: … Ronald Reagan won…


CRAWFORD: Over and over again, Jimmy Carter warned Americans about the oil crisis, about the dependence on foreign oil. He did everything he could think of, including putting solar panels on the White House, to try to get this country focused on that. And had the country listened to him at the time, I don‘t think we‘d be in a war in Iraq because we wouldn‘t be dependent on oil from that region.


CRAWFORD: That‘s my speech. …


… SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll see you tomorrow night on Thanksgiving. And Craig Crawford, sorry if I touched a nerve on Jimmy Carter.


SCARBOROUGH: I love the man.

CRAWFORD: I‘m a little sensitive about Jimmy. I admit that.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I can tell.

Actually, as I remember it, it was Craig Crawford who said “I love the man.” But it was so refreshing to see someone stand up for Jimmy Carter, and I thought you’d enjoy it.

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Etiquette and Jim Webb

Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

Y’all will love this. Michael D. Shear writes in today’s Washington Post:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia’s newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn’t long before Bush found him.

“How’s your boy?” Bush asked, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Be still, my heart.

At The Moderate Voice, Michael van der Galien sniffs that Webb should have been more civil. To which I say, bleep that. I can only imagine the grinding, prolonged anguish a parent feels when a child is off fighting in a war. When in fact that child is in danger only because of the corruption and incompetence of politicians, is that parent supposed to bow and scrape to the politician-in-chief like some bleeping courtier?

Bleep that, I say.

Webb didn’t seek the President out to start a fight, note. He spoke up only after Bush was rude to him. Emily Heil writes for The Hill:

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.

Not getting slugged is more respect than The Creature deserves. As Glenn Greenwald says,

It is difficult to fathom the hubris and self-indulgence required for someone to ask a parent of a soldier in Iraq how their son is doing only to then snidely tell the parent that the answer isn’t what he wanted to hear.

Of course, the righties can’t see that Bush was out of line, and are already foaming at the mouth about the “Bush hater.” Like they’re so into civil discourse.

Update: Tristero:

I want to focus entirely on the unspeakable callousness Bush displayed here.

Folks, political enemy or friend, that is no way – ever– for anyone to talk to the father of a kid who’s in a combat zone.

This is the same man who reminisced about his hell-raisin’ during a speech at the worst natural disaster in American history. This is the same man who, when, asked to name his greatest achievement while president, “joked” that it was when he caught a large fish in his fake pond on his Crawford estate – sorry, ranch. This is the same man who, when informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center in less than 10 minutes, sat reading “My Pet Goat” in a children’s classroom. This is the same man who, in front of a supporter who he assumed wouldn’t report it, mockingly imitated a woman about to be executed in his state.


Tristero mentions “stunted social skills.” I still think we’re looking at some degree of sociopathy here.

Update update: I knew Taylor Marsh would enjoy this.

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