Last week, I missed both the major and minor stories of the Sunday Heads, the major being Abu Gonzales’ assertion of the Administration’s inherent right to wiretap journalists; the minor, John Edwards’ proclamation of Bush as the worst. president. ever. Today, I’ve managed to catch all of the shows (thanks to a late showing of Meet the Press), so hopefully that won’t happen again today.
There was surprisingly light coverage of the U.S. military in Iraq (and Afghanistan), considering this is the Memorial Day weekend. Although I certainly understand why Republicans want to ignore those subjects.
This Week with Geo. Stephanopolous did address Iraq in an interview with Representative John Murtha (D-PA). Murtha pulled no punches regarding the events at Haditha in November 2005: An IED exploded, killing one Marine. Following that event, Marines killed a number of Iraqi civilians. No question that it happened, and no question there was a coverup. There are photographs. No question that the killings were murder. These events are worse than Abu Ghraib. Murtha hopes Haditha was an isolated incident, and notes that the war on terrorism was diverted by Bush’s adventure in Iraq.
In contrast, Senator John Warner (R-VA) was a master of non-answer. Warner urged a "sense of calmness"and refused to address specifics, saying he wants "the Uniform Code of Military Justice to proceed" (sic) before jumping to any conclusions. The Senate will investigate, and call witnesses under oath, but not until the UCMJ has "run its course." Stepho also congratulated Warner on his ten thousandth vote in the Senate.
In the roundtable, George Fwill and John Kasich agreed that Denny Hastert was out of touch in re: the FBI search of the House office of Representative Jefferson (D-LA). Appropos of nothing but free advertising for his employer, Kasich repeated the canard that more people "voted for the American Idol" than for President.
Face the Nation featured Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on election year politics. McConnell says the Dems have to win Kentucky’s open seat and oust five incumbents to gain control of the Senate. The elections won’t be a referendum on Bush, or the Republicans in general, the ultra-unconfident McConnell claims; it’s all about constituent reaction to incumbent performance. Schumer claims that Democratic incumbents are ahead by 10 points, while Republican incumbents are either even or behind.
McConnell predicts that should the Dems take control of Congress, they’ll "wave the white flag on terrorism," raise taxes, and censure and impeach Bush. Schumer was divided among himself, stating that the people don’t want partisan fighting and don’t want investigations, but, on matters such as Iraq, "our job is to hold the president accountable on these issues." How Schumer intends to hold Bush accountable without investigations and partisan fighting remains a mystery, much like Chuck’s career success itself.
Chuck’s six-point plan for a Democratic Congress: (1) tougher ethics enforcement (without investigation!); (2) better energy policy; (3) tuition deductions; (4) fixing Medicare Part D; (5) improved armed forces and (6) stem-cell research.
Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (Second Hour) Wolf’s in the City of Angels, sharing a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont with Howie Kurtz. Wolf talks to President Jimmy Carter from the Carter Center. Carter thinks the House plan on immigration has racist overtones, as it singles out a specific group of people and makes them felons. Carter is okay with the Bush/Senate plan, but doesn’t think that English should be made the official language of the U.S. On Gitmo and prisoner abuse, Carter criticizes Bush’s practice of extraordinary rendition. Current prisoners of war should either be put on trial, sent back to their home countries for trial, or released if they can’t be convicted. Carter also calls for Bush to engage in direct dialogue with Iran. Irsael should engage in talks with Abbas but not Hamas.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also opposes English only, noting that the pending bill mandates governments to "preserve and enhance" English, but doesn’t allocate money for English education. On immigration, Villaraigosa calls Sensenbrenner and the House as demagoges, calling for border enforcement while failing to provide sufficient funds to protect ports. The Mayor urges Wolf to spend some cash while he’s in L.A.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace panders to his audience, seeing an attack on American "sovereignty" in the Senate immigration bill, which calls for consultation with the Mexican government before border walls are built. Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) promotes the Senate immigration plan. Wallace charges that Frist was against amnesty before he was for it, and Frist responds that it depends on what the meaning of amnesty is. Wallace allows Frist to dodge questions about anticipated Republican losses in the fall and Frist’s own presidential ambitions. Frist road tests the slogan "Securing American Values," which encompasses the values of marriage inequality and not burning the flag.
Sen. Dick Durbin (R-IL) thinks the Dems have a chance to gain control of the Senate. He’d like for his colleague, Senator Barack Obama, to run for president in ’08. If Obama goes forward, Durbin "will be at his side."
Meet the Press holds an exclusive debate on immigration between two Republicans, Chuck Hagel and Jim Sensenbrenner (see Illustration A, above). No doubt the inspiration for this event was the record ratings for last week’s exclusive debate on immigration between two Republicans. (Over 67 million Americans voted on last week’s immigration showdown, which pitted chubby white soulman Charlie Norwood against the prettier and more polished middle-of-the-roader, Lindsey Graham. Next week: Katherine Harris and Lisa Murkowski exclusively debate immigration policy, and the winner of that debate takes on Hagel in the quarter-finals.)
On "the Meet the Press Minute" flashback, we fondly recalled the time Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) pulled a street sweeper on Pumpkinhead. Although we knew the outcome, we were somehow surprised that Senator Bentsen didn’t go Dan Burton’s backyard on Tim’s ass.
A peaceful Memorial Day to all.
Corrections Made (5/29): Lloyd Bentsen was a Democrat. And Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. Thanks for the corrections.