The Condi and Dennis Show

My sentiments exactly:

It’s a tossup in my mind as to whether it serves one’s interest in greater measure to be incompetent, dishonest, purposely ignorant, ideologically and/or religiously obsessed, cavalier about the loss of human lives and the destruction of tens and hundreds of thousands of families, fiscally promiscuous, or sexually promiscuous with innocent 16-year-olds, and hence, quite possibly guilty of statutory rape, to rise in the modern Republican Party. This sex scandal is a pretty good example of a Big Story to which I have absolutely nothing of use to contribute, though I did receive this kinda funny list in the mail this morning.

What is currently driving me the craziest, however, are the variations on this story. The upshot is this. Tenet briefed Condi Rice about a potentially catastrophic terrorist attack on the United States on July 10, 2001. Rice ignored the briefing, just as she and Bush both ignored the August 6 “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” memo, when Bush told the CIA briefer who delivered the memo to him that he had “covered his ass” and then went fishing for the rest of the day. Rice not only ignored the briefing, but also misled the 9-11 Commission and then lied when confronted with the evidence by Bob Woodward. Add her name to the long list of Bush administration officials who will leave office with the blood of thousands of innocents on her hands, and who was promoted by Bush for exactly that reason. Greg Mitchell has more here. Of course Rice should be fired, and perhaps tried, but instead she will be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Bush will run another campaign on how Democrats cannot be trusted to protect you from the terrorists he’s created.

Be sure to read Eric Alterman’s whole column.

Judging by Memeorandum, at the moment national security issues are being outblogged by the Foley scandal by a wide margin.

I think this could a mistake. I also wonder if someone in the White House (initials K.R.) had a hand in tipping off the press about Foley. Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch, and I’m paranoid. But from the Rove perspective, throwing some congressmen under the bus with a sex scandal might be better than having the nation’s attention on the Bush Administration’s flaming national security incompetence.

Although I also disagree with John Dickerson — Foley’s homosexuality is not the issue. And, at this point, Foley’s behavior is no longer a political issue, since he is no longer a congressman, and out-of-control sexual predation is not an exclusively Republican problem. The issue is whether other Republican congressman tolerated having a sexual predator in their midst. The issue is whether they knew about his behavior and looked the other way, even covered up for him. That cannot be tolerated.

And don’t miss Glenn Greenwald:

In need of moral absolution and support from a respected and admired figure who possesses moral authority among Hastert’s morally upstanding Republican base, to whom does Hastert turn? A priest or respected reverend? An older wise political statesman with a reputation for integrity and dignity? No, there is only one person with sufficient moral credibility among the increasingly uncomfortable moralistic Republican base who can give Hastert the blessing he needs:

Rush Limbaugh.

Too rich.

There’s a social-psychological phenomenon, I read somewhere, in which people who talk a lot about morality are perceived as being moral, even if their behavior says otherwise. Conversely, people who don’t talk much about morality are not perceived as being particularly moral, even if they’re as upright as the Washington Monument. I suspect the same phenomenon applies to people who talk tough.

Bottom line: the Republicans’ reputation as the guardians of moral values and the Republicans’ reputation as the guardians of national security are both so much fluff. All talk, no walk.

And, the more I think about it, the more I believe the Dennis Hastert story and the Condi Rice story are essentially the same story. It’s the story of people who, for whatever reason, were just plain not doing what they should have been doing, either to protect the congressional pages or the nation.

The difference is that, somehow, the Bush Administration managed to hide their failure and incompetence behind a facade of strength and resolve and toughness. And the very people whose foreign policy judgments have proved to be wrong, time and time again, continue to get away with painting their opposition as incompetent and untrustworthy.

The question of why these people failed interests me less than the question of how we change public perception. We can argue endlessly about whether the Bushies failed to act on the pre-9/11 warnings because they were incompetent (my choice) or whether they made a cold calculation that some domestic terrorism would work to their political advantage, or for some other reason we have yet to uncover. And I have no way to know if Dennis Hastert failed to separate Mark Foley from the pages because he didn’t care, or because he was more focused on keeping Congress in Republican hands, or out of the psychological fog that all too often causes people not to notice sexual predation.

What matters is that the Bush Administration has a history of really bad judgments on national security and foreign policy and do not deserve the nation’s trust to guard the nation. What matters is that Republicans are not uniquely virtuous and do not deserve the nation’s trust to guard moral values. (As if guarding moral values were the government’s job, anyway; I say it isn’t.)

Yesterday’s Countdown had a brilliant clip of rightie talking points on Foley (at Crooks & Liars, natch). They’re falling back on their traditional argument — The Dems did it too. The hard-core Right will buy this, of course, but I can only hope the bulk of American voters, looking on, see how truly pathetic this is.

But the most fundamental issue here is the misperception, the myth, of Bush Administration competence and Republican virtue. Are scales truly falling from eyes, or are we liberals still just talking to ourselves?

35 thoughts on “The Condi and Dennis Show

  1. In the language of the media ” they can’t keep anyone safe” from their own incompetence, greed, lust for power etc.

    It is all of a piece because everything is ALL ABOUT THEM and never about we the people , the country’s needs and issues: it is always about THEIR AGENDA and never about ours. That is why they cannot ,will not ” keep us safe”. They are too busy serving themselves to worry about CIA briefings , pedophiles in their midst, catagory 5 hurricanes.

  2. While I wouldn’t put it past Karl to use the Foley scandal as a way to divert attention from Bush’s national security incompetence out of the public eye, I think it’s bad politics. In other words Foley harms the Rs more than anything Team Bush did regarding security. The Foley scandal touches average people more where they live, especially since it comes as only the latest of many scandals, than do dry facts coming out of a NIE report or Bob Woodward’s book. Just my opinion.

    How you change public perception is to have strong leaders courageously, repeatedly, frame what the Rs have done, penetrating and exposing their bullshit, while articulating a coherent, opposing moral viewpoint that’s hard for the Rs to assail. Leadership, in other words – what we’ve needed all along.

    The Glenn Greenwald piece is priceless. The fact that the Rs turn for absolution to (in Glenn’s words) a moral degenerate such as Limbaugh, and can sort of get away with it, says everything you need to know about what’s so sadly lacking from our side.

  3. It’s telling that Hastert believes doing the Limbaugh show is a good move. It’s his perception that this is the place to rally the troops.

    Give it some thought, what if he’s right? The dittoheads dance to Rush’s beat, and there’s a lot of them.

    It also says a lot about how the GOP really views the so-called “values” voters. As noted, going on the air with an obvious moral degenerate to defend another one cannot be appeal to the “values” crowd, at least not the religious right segment of it.

    I think they’re betting that the religious right will simply grumble and fall back into lockstep after hearing another chorus of “Hillary is Coming!”. Again, they may be right.

    The myth of Republican virtues and competence is alive and well. Turn on your TV. Until it changes there, little will change elsewhere.

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  5. Lately my Republican friends have said that they don’t know who to believe. They maintain that the storyline they get from the left is so radically different from what they get from the right that they remain perplexed.
    I found a new response that seems to be working: without the Democrats taking control of either the House or the
    Senate, oversight will not occur. Testimony under oath is necessary. So far I’m batting five for five.

  6. Please don’t discount the Rove factor in the Republican-generated dust-storm: Iraq is not doing well, the Taliban are; Rice may have wandered off beyond verbal dither into outright perjury before the 9/11 commission; Kissinger may be the real “Bush Whisperer; the plaster covering Hastert’s ill-health may have fallen off (House Republicans don’t do leadership changes well, especailly since the point of being a House Republican is to follow, not to lead)– if anyone can save the Grand Old Party from it’s self-generated Katrina, Karl Rove’s the man. The voting public won’t have a chance to connect the dots.

  7. But the most fundamental issue here is the misperception, the myth, of Bush Administration competence and Republican virtue. Are scales truly falling from eyes, or are we liberals still just talking to ourselves?

    Yes and no, and no and yes. No and yes, respectively, on national security–I really don’t think most people get it. The 7/10/01 briefing might be changing that, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

    Yes and no, respectively, on Foleygate–this has the Republican base pissed off in a way nothing else has to date. It’s simple and easy to understand: the Republican leadership knew about Foley and did nothing. People who have been voting Republican because ‘they share our values’ are seeing that all along it was a crock of shit. I think this has hurt the party almost as much as Iraq.

  8. I’m with moonbat on this one. A gay sex scandel and cover-up is much more damaging to the Republicans than the NIE report. Look at all of the flap that has occured in the past week over Foley and how long have we known about the NIE, two weeks. Maybe not that long. This may be the main cause that brings down the republicans in the house, and not their proven incompetence and lying on Iraq and the ‘war on terror’. I’ll take it however I can get it.

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  10. Tom — IMO the biggest effect of the Foley scandal is that it might keep the “cultural warriors” from turning out to vote in large numbers in November. And if there is such a thing as a “swing” voter any more, it might cause some to swing blue. This could be significant to the election.

    For the nation, the national security issue is far more significant, but I’ve been doing that song and dance for more than four years now. It’s a harder sell.

  11. You nailed it Maha!
    And Marvel, the only thing I can think to say is Happy Birthday!
    You are a hoot My man….

  12. Maha, I think you’re absolutely right. Rove’s strategy has been all about motivating the 4 million (or whatever) evangelicals who didn’t used to vote, and he’s done it successfully; this, I think, totally blows that calculation. I wish it were something more substantive changing the political landscape, but I’ll settle for an advantage wherever we can get it.

  13. Rice had good reason to ‘ignore’ the Tenet warning. She knew as did all the rest of the NeoCons that the Project for the New American Century starts with a ‘new Pearl Harbor’. Time for everyone starting with the Dread and Horrible Kos to revisit just how 9/11 was perpetrated.

  14. I work with a cousin of George Tenet. The cousin told me he has a book in the making that may explain it all. I only hope he gets it out before the election; otherwise, like all the rest it may be too little, too late.

  15. I think Karl Rove is given far too much credit, generally. Anyone can come up with nasty schemes to throw doubt on someone else, but the trick is to do it with style, something Rove has never had. Style is Jennifer Granholm using her gubernatorial debate, just 5 weeks prior to the election, to announce that DeVos is hugely invested in a shabby nursing home scheme. Rove just isn’t that slick, so I don’t think he’s responsible for anything to do with Foley.
    Maha, if only the mainstream press were as fair as you are. Alas, the truth is that the Republicans are even more corrupt than the Roman Senate. In a recent diary post at Daily Kos, John Laesch, who is running against Denny Hastert, said that he had the recorded testimony of one of Hastert’s constituents who was told that if he wanted a meeting with Hastert, his congressman, it would cost him $100.00. These guys really are scum. Don’t try to give them a free pass because they just aren’t entitled to it.

  16. I don’t think the Foley horrorshow is Rove. As others have said, this hurts them with the Christianist base. It’s a simple narrative, easy to understand, and all the spinning they’re trying just makes it worse. What I am hearing from the Missouri fundies I know is intense anger and disgust at the way this is being spun. Scum like Limbaugh and others attempting to blame the pages involved is NOT helping this to go away.

    Where I think this Foley info came from, if I may don my tinfoil hat for a moment, is that there are still quite a few unpurged career professionals in the security services and the military. And they know bombing Iran will be a disaster of biblical proportions, and that our government is being run by dangerous, out of control idealogues and morons. Remember, the illegal wiretaps have been going on since before 9/11. And the people who ordered the wiretaps are not the only ones who have access to the information gained from them. In other words, if this doesn’t work, we can probably expect more interesting revelations. [/end tinfoil rant]

  17. Rice has been an utter failure which is why she is promoted and so highly thought of by Bush. And like most Bush loyalists, she has no concept or feeling for the blood of all the lives lost in thier little adventure. She will continue to justify and live in fantasy world and never have to confront the issue head on or the truth.
    Who leaked with Foley. Haven’t you heard. clinton. It’s all clinton’s fault. Anything that goes wrong with the gop is Clinton’s fault.
    As for fixing the broken branch. I heard or read something I totally agree with. Most of the GOP congress came in and was shaped by the Delay era. Tom Delay corrupted the congress and taught them all
    How to steal
    How to let go of your ideals and morals
    Your first loyality is to the party
    You will die for the party
    You will put god and family below the party.
    How to be a criminal.
    I’m sure these lessons were not lost on Democrats.
    In order to fix the mess we have to pass laws and fix campaign financiing. We have to make it so the average person has a chance to win. We have to get the money out of congress. We have to make sure we can elect people who care about public service into the job. And can afford to do the job right.
    And, we need to get rid of the Delay era people. Wipe them out. They may have come in with the right ideas but, that was beat out of them. No idealism allowed.

  18. I agree with you Maha that Foley’s homosexuality isn’t the issue, but I think to the minds of many people homosexuality is viewed as predatory in nature and to make a distinction between the pederast aspect and the homosexual aspect of Foley’s actions becomes near impossible for some. It’s like the Rick Santorum school of god given morality,where any deviance from scripturally proscribed norms of sexuality is seen a willful abandonment of all moral restraint( or given over) and all deviancy becomes one. Pederasty, bestiality, necrophilia, or homosexuality just become different names and expressions for disobedience to god.

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  20. Frankly, if I were Denny, I wouldn’t want Bush to publicly express his support for me. His unending faith in Rumsfeld, his belief that the sun sets on Condi, and let’s not forget, ‘You’re doing a heck of a job Brownie’, would prompt me to call my good friend Bush and ask that he please not speak out on my behalf.

    I tend to believe in political conspiracies (especially where Rove is concerned), but I think that the extent of his involvement in this would be to spin the homosexual aspect of it in order to contain the damage (it took all of 24 hours for the announcement that Foley was gay). Sure, the guy and his lawyer were planning how they good put a good face on the situation, but I don’t believe for one minute that half the republican party representatives weren’t sitting by their side. After all, this party of family values that spent so much time on saving the children (no same-sex marriage, no children being raised by homosexuals) couldn’t save the children in their own house. So, let’s spin away from the cover-up, let’s blame it on homosexuality – that will work with the base.
    Let’s pray (yeah we dems pray too), that the base is waking up to their tricks.

  21. I also wonder if someone in the White House (initials K.R.) had a hand in tipping off the press about Foley. Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch, and I’m paranoid. But from the Rove perspective, throwing some congressmen under the bus with a sex scandal might be better than having the nation’s attention on the Bush Administration’s flaming national security incompetence.

    Great minds think alike. 🙂

  22. So, let’s spin away from the cover-up, let’s blame it on homosexuality

    But then the repugs have the problem that they have promoted their anti-gay message to the fundies. And one of their own turns out to be gay, and from a red, southern state. I agree it may be the only way that the repugs can spin this, but they’re in the devil and the deep blue sea area now. Fundies are naturally leary about government and this is just another reason for them to stay away from the corrupt system.

  23. So, let’s spin away from the cover-up, let’s blame it on homosexuality

    Um, no, let’s not. That’s stupid.

  24. Well, there is important news being scooped away from the headlines by Foleymania. Consider the reality in Iraq, which I am sure the Bush team is happy to not see in the headlines. In September, the first official month of this mid-term electioneering cycle, 74 of our soldiers were killed in Iraq. In these first 5 days of October, 20 more have died, a rate of 4 soldier deaths each day…….which approaches the horror of the worst ever month of American soldier deaths [April of ’04].

  25. The Rs see the problem in simple terms: their base is crumbling on the perception of malfeasance, incompetence, corruption, and (horrors) sexual predation.

    So. Of course Denny is gonna go on Limbaugh and Hannity (oh yes, he was on Hannity later in the day giving the same talking points) to shore up the Believers first. That done, he and they can go on to blame the Dems for anything and everything, their Amen Chorus will blissfully chant along, and voila! Victory on the morrow.

    It’s worked many times in the past. The fact that Denny is intransigent and disingenuous actually works to his benefit and the potential benefit of Rs in general, because it looks tough and uncompromising in the face of Dems’ Dirty Tricks (the preferred — indeed, almost universal — right wing conspiracy theory about the Foley Mess). It doesn’t matter if Denny is wrong, corrupt, evil, what have you. The fact that he is standing up to the Dems’ is all it takes for the Believers to fall in line.

    What? You say Dems had nothing to do with it? That’s beside the point. Truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is winning, and winning requires that the Dems be blamed.

    I’m not convinced that standing back and watching Rs savage one another (which is what Harry Reid said on the Stephanie Miller Show the Dems’ strategery was) while promoting an increase in the minimum wage and port security is a winner though.

    Time will tell.

  26. I’m not convinced that standing back and watching Rs savage one another (which is what Harry Reid said on the Stephanie Miller Show the Dems’ strategery was) while promoting an increase in the minimum wage and port security is a winner though.

    I’m not convinced it’s the wrong strategy. Seems to me standing back and letting congressional Republicans tear each other apart in public is working pretty well at the moment.

    IMO one of the reasons President Clinton remained popular in 1997-1999 in spite of the personal scandals is that the GOP was just a little too eager to hang him. They overplayed their hand, again and again, and the general public was more wearied by the foaming-at-the-mouth Ken Starr brigade than by Clinton’s behavior.

    Hannity and Limbaugh fans are going to stick with the Right no matter what the Dems do. It’s what everyone else thinks that matters. It might be that “promoting an increase in the minimum wage and port security” while the GOP flops around in damage control mode makes the Dems look serious and adult and the GOP look like a bunch of clowns.

    However, the GOP always looks like a bunch of clowns to me, so I may be mistaken.

  27. Personally, I think that IF KR had a hand in outting Foley, he made a huge mistake. As such, I doubt it was KR.

    It is true that for those of us who care about what is really going on in Iraq, and with Bush’s foreign policy past present and future, for those of us who are informed on the issue and for those of us who actually UNDERSTAND the issue (and, it goes without saying, for those of use who are not my-party-right-or-wrong-republicans), for all of US, things have been happening and being revealed in the past weeks that are extremely damning; they show conclusively, once and for all, just how bad bush&crew are for the country.

    The majority of the country neither understands nor cares to understand. Foreign policy is complicated, and few have the time, energy, or experience/knowledge to really judge, SO they just believe whatever their chosen party tells them to believe.

    A gay pedophilia congressional sex scandal/coverup tho? EVERYBODY understands THAT!!! No need to defer to the Party on THIS issue, everybody in the country has watched enough jerry springer (the TV show, not the radio show) to know EXACTLY what’s going on here…

    So, with bad info coming in from Iraq, for example, it’s relatively easy for repub leadership to spin it completely out of existence. This will be impossible to spin.

    Recall: the repubs spent all 8 years of the clinton presidency trying to find a scandal that would actually stick, that enough people would get upset over that they would be able to run with it … complicated financial deals with Whitewater, fer example, that nobody really gave a damn about … it wasn’t until they finally reduced it down to “clinton got a BLOW JOB from an INTERN” that they found their silver bullet…


  28. I don’t think it was Rove. Reports now have it as a former congressional staffer (a republican). Besides, it’s way too messy to control properly.

    And the dems aren’t standing back and saying nothing. Patty Wetterling has an ad up now (her son was kidnapped in ’89 and never found). My own loathsome congresscritter, Heather Wilson, is being deluged with questions, since she was on the page board until a couple of years ago (oh, she’s squirming and using the Seargant Shultz defense, it’s so much fun to watch). The democratic leadership is calling for resignations, investigations, and if necessary, arrests.

    My big fear is that Operation Nuke Iran is still on track, and they’ll think it’ll be just the thing to turn the news cycle around. They’re that delusional.

  29. I’m not convinced it’s the wrong strategy. Seems to me standing back and letting congressional Republicans tear each other apart in public is working pretty well at the moment.

    I agree wholeheartedly. The less visible we are in this, the more the focus rests on the Republicans–and they’re making themselves look really, really bad.

    They have also been desperately trying to spin this as some kind of Democratic dirty trick (“the Democrats leaked it…oh wait, it was a Republican…look! George Soros!”), and by keeping a low profile (on Foleygate–not on the more substantive issues, like Iraq and national security in general) we make that all the more difficult and desperate.

  30. I dunno… I always feel we’re being played, and I think that the longer Foley plays, the more we are being played. Though IMHO talking about the economy or anything besides national security is a dead loser, and has been for 5 plus years.

    I do sense a possible killing blow: if someone like Obama (using the occasion to “defend the honor of his fellow Illinioisan Dennis Hastert”) or Hillary (using the occasion to “defend the honor of her fellow New Yorker Tom Reynolds”) gave a speech right now and pointed out how prurient, juvenile and really trivial this Foley nonsense is, when what matters is that the Senate Majority Leader just told us that we have lost the war on terror and must invite the Taliban into the Afghan government because Bush and the Republicans’ priorities to fight in Iraq were incompetent anad duplicitous, AND the Secretary of State lied through her teeth about not being warned (along with the President) about the pre-9-11 threat, and what matters is not the inability of the Republicans to protect our children from… themselves… but to protect all of us from terrorism, and that its only sheer luck that we haven’t been attacked again, etc…. I think we’d get somewhere. I think the public has finally had it with the bulls*** from Bush, et al.

    Of course given that Obama, Hillary, etc., and virtually all Democratic office holders are self-interested careerists, with no particular interest in the advancement of the party (let alone the advancement of its supposed policies) beyond themselves, I wouldn’t worry about this happening too much.

  31. ‘how prurient, juvenile and really trivial this Foley nonsense is’……

    ‘given that Obama, Hillary, etc., and virtually all Democratic officed holders are self-interested careerists’…….

    Sorry, ‘the talking dog’ [#33], but your making sweeping generalizations like the above turns me off to reading whatever your point is supposed to be in your whole comment.

  32. I, too, pondered whether KR might be behind this, or at least whether this was part of a deliberate strategy. But then the sad reality occurred to me: unfortunately (as you yourself note in today’s blog), this sex scandal is getting waaaaay more attention than something, ah, unimportant like, y’know, bald-face lying about an urgent warning received from the Director of the CIA regarding possibly imminent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

    Nah, KR, who has a refined sense of how to pander to the lowest common denominator, would ever make an error that stupid. Unless he’s actually as incompetent as the rest of ’em…

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