|Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place...|
Jan. 5, 2003, 5:00PM -- NEW YORK (APJP) -- The situation with North Korea got even worse this week -- it's beginning to look like they intend for their sole national commodity to be plutonium, and who knows whether they plan it for domestic use or export?
And things in South Korea took an amazing and sudden turn. Back when we had a legitimate president, the US acted as the intermediary between the Koreas. A couple days ago, the new President of South Korea pretty much offered to act as the intermediary between America's Dunce-in-chief and Kim Jong-Il, the paranoid ruler of North Korea, who asserted his nation's "army-based" policy.
Naturally, the Smirk Junta kept bleating, "It's a diplomatic problem, don't worry, be happy! Besides, we're about to roll out Operation Desert Storm II: The Sequel®!"
We'd bring up the old Chinese adage about "interesting times", but we're sure that's what most of our readers are already thinking.
Here's what we caught.
ABC This Weak
Has This Weak hired a new booker? Or is today's roster of terrific guests just a serendipitous consequence of "vacation season"? ABC's usually superficial Sunday gabfest was way above average this week, although host George Stephanopoulos was as boring and predictable as always.
George Stephanopoulos welcomed as his first guest Sen. John Edwards, who has just thrown his hat into the ring in a bid for the presidency. Here's the whole interview in shorthand with full spin exposed.
Steph: Let's say you're in the Oval Office. You're facing three security challenge Steph: North Korea, Iraq, al Qaeda. How would you handle them?
Following the break, Steph offered up more fun: a debate between prominent Republican adulterer and ousted House "Squeaker" Newt "Poontang Express" Gingrich and economist-turned-hero-to-liberals Paul Krugman. The debate was fast and furious.
Steph: Is the stimulus the right thing?
It was hilarious. Newt looked and sounded as if he'd had one too many espressos, and you could tell from Krugman's smile that he knew Newt was stinging from his jabs and punches.
Most of the round table was predictable -- except for Fareed Zakaria's scathe of the Smirk Regime's North Korea policy. Zakaria distilled the mess into one simple concept: Shrub's handlers' zeal to embrace "anti-Clinton" policies has backfired badly -- and could lead to an international catastrophe. The other surprise from Zakaria, for those of you who remember "Clinton-Gore" as a pejorative, was his focus on "Bush-Rove".
This should be a lesson and message to Dems -- Smirk's "running mate" in his perpetual campaign is Karl the "Mayberry Machiavelli", not Big Time Dick.
Defeat the Press
Tim's guests were Sen. Don "Senator in a Drum" Nickles (R-clueless) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-should depose Daschle).
Tim began by asking Nickles about his call for Lott to step down. Nickles "congratulated" Lott for doing the right thing and said he's "excited" about Frist, then pitched Snippy's "Mess of the Union" speech. Do you have a problem with Lott leading the Rules Committee? Nickles rather stupidly admitted that the Senate GOPers wanted to install Lott in a leadership position anyway.
Thanks, Don, for that reminder of the contempt the GOP harbors for the vast majority of Americans who are plainly insulted and outraged by Lott's bigotry.
Tim asked Reid about who would lead the Dems in the 108th Congress. Reid is of course a candidate -- and naturally, he refused to tip his hand while acknowledging his name is being bandied about as leader of senate Democrats.
Then -- Smirk's tax scam, including possible elimination of the dividend tax. Tim actually admitted that one study shows 64% of benefits would go to only 5% of taxpayers -- and that the cuts would hardly impact working people. Nickles stuck with the Heritage Foundation bullet point he had memorized and made sure to scream "class warfare" not once but twice in response not to Tim raising a "class" issue but cold, hard numbers! Talk about premature e-blab-ulation! Nickles also was "on message" with his mention of the fake "double taxation" mantra. Tim confronted Nickles about corporations writing off everything -- and Nickles again retreated to the "double taxation" talking point. Tim gave more face time to Nickles to pitch Smirk's phonied-up "selling points" of the tax cut.
Reid responded by saying that he looks forward to a "bipartisan debate" -- but the dividend cut, he said, is not a priority, whereas job creation, infrastructure renewal, and extension of unemployment benefits are. And then Reid went on the offensive -- saying that Smirk and the GOP have declared and initiated class warfare with their economic policy -- it is, in fact, members of he middle class, not corporate bosses, need tax relief.
Tim asked what Democrats will do to curb job loss and spur the economy. Reid gave a few details of the plan to rebuild the infrastructure, and when Tim tried to argue that it would increase the deficit, Reid shot it down, saying that in the long term infrastructure renewal pays for itself. Tim kept pushing "increases the deficit" -- as if Dems are to blame. Reid, noticing that Tim seems not to have a clue as to which administration not only cut the deficit but gave America a surplus and accelerated a paydown of the national debt, said Democrats have a record of performance -- but Reid should have also mentioned that the Clinton surpluses were reversed by the borrow-and-spend regime of the Crawford Cretin!
Tim pressed Nickles on prescription drug reform (translation: big payday for insurance and pharmaceutical companies). Naturally, Nickles said, "We have to do it right" (translation: PhRMA and insurance lobbyists are writing the legislation as he speaks). Tim then tried to set up Reid with the words of Democrat (in name only) John Breaux, who claimed that Medicare reform is like throwing lead weights on a sinking ship. Reid fired back, saying that any pay-as-you-go program needs constant monitoring and tweaking, and Democrats will oppose killing the program. Tim fell back on the "something has to go" argument, which Reid quickly debunked by pointing out that "Bush can say class warfare" but we need unemployment benefits. Nickles said it could be dealt with as early as this week, and Tim cut off Reid before he could reply, shifting the topic to the West Virginia doctors' strike.
Tim then asked about banning late-term abortions and declaring a woman's body part (i.e. a fetus) a person. Nickles said there would be action on abortion issues. Reid talked about "medical malpractice" and blasted the GOP's beating up on lawyers when in fact it is the insurers' monopoly that is the problem. Reid called it a states' rights issue, adding that insurers get all the cash and patients get nothing!
Tim asked Reid which is more important: dealing with North Korea or Iraq. Reid said skeptically that he hopes that diplomatic efforts are helping the Korea crisis -- then blasted Junior's hands-off foreign policy, and called for Powell to get into the fray. So would Reid support military action against Iraq and North Korea if the president calls for it? Reid dismissed Tim's premise as overly simplistic. Nickles scoffed at diplomacy, then blamed -- catch this -- Clinton for not doing enough to stop Osama bin Laden.
What sheer, transparent dishonesty. The GOP-controlled Congress refused to pony up money or support to help Clinton go after Al Qaeda, despite repeated warnings from Sandy Berger and other intelligence officials, because Republicans felt that fishing for trouser trout in Lake Clinton was a far, far higher priority.
And Nickles must not be aware of the fact that a Clinton-authorized attack on Al Qaeda's leadership (which, of course, the crotch-sniffing GOP tarred as a "wag the dog" stunt) came far closer to offing Osama than everything the Texas Dauphin has done to date.
Nickles then tried to blame Clinton for North Korea making nukes. And that was the end of the segment -- no opportunity for Reid to debunk "Senator in a Drum" Nickles and the latest "blame Clinton" lie being blast-faxed to Republicans and their press surrogates.
By our estimate, Nickles got about a minute and a half more face time than Reid.
We tuned out Tim's round table of right-wingers: David Broder, Bob Novak, Bill Safire and token "liberal" moderate Robin Wright.
-- JJ Balzer
JJ Balzer is a former television news producer. He lives in New York City.