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Monday, July 18, 2005

Rip Van Mehlman

Went to a wedding in NYC this weekend. It was a nice time, and no one there suggested that any terrorists should be given therapy. Wadayaknow.

Anyhow, being the junky that I am, I Tivoed Meet the Press (and the other shows; actually, it's not just me -- my lady Tivoes The Shows for professional purposes). We watched it last night when we got back. I've got to say that the segment with the RNC's SIC (Smearer-in-Chief) Ken Mehlman and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta was a thing of beauty. For several reasons:
  1. Tim Russert actually did his medieval-on-your-ass thing to a Republican for once, and he didn't let up even when Mehlman went through the usual GOP three-step routine of ignore-the-question/attack-your-opponent/change-the-subject. I almost thought Mehlman was a Democrat once or twice.
  2. They had an actual Democrat -- and a high-level one with some ability to speak in public -- on to point out and shoot down the lies. I was surprised they didn't pick, say, Elisabeth Bumiller (who has all the usual MTP qualifications to debate a high GOP official on a political topic like Rovegate: she wouldn't speak with a Democratic agenda, her journalistic work on the issue is only tangential, and she can be counted on to suggest caution in considering whether Bush should have to explain why he won't stand on the promise to fire anyone involved in the leak; but I digress -- I come to praise MTP, not to point out the litany of its usual failures).
  3. Russert gave Podesta time to make his argument.
Here's my very favorite moment in the whole thing (full transcript):
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Mehlman, if this happened in the Clinton White House, John Podesta or Leon Panetta or someone was accused of doing this, what would the Republican National Committee be saying today about the Clinton White House?

Mr. MEHLMAN: [Dissembles...]...The fact is, we're all rushing to judgment. Karl Rove is a good man, he is an honest man. He works every single day for this country, and the notion that people are trying to rush to judgment to smear him for political gain is outrageous and it's wrong.

MR. RUSSERT: You would not be pouncing on a Democratic White House for leaking the identity of a CIA agent?

MR. MEHLMAN: [Dissembles, changes subject, etc.]

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Podesta.

MR. PODESTA: I think my Republican friend slept through the 1990s, but I must say, I come back to this, the--Mr. Rove has created a tremendous credibility problem for this White House, for this president, for this country on a matter of utmost national security, whether we can trust him to tell the truth about serious issues involving this war that has now claimed 1,763 Americans. And I think that the one thing that is unassailable at the end of this week is that Mr. Rove did not tell the truth in 2003, and I think given that, he's hurting the president by staying there and I think he has a duty to the president--and, quite frankly, the president said he would fire leakers, not lawbreakers. And I--you know, I think if he's a man of his word, he'll take that seriously.
Other good moments:
MR. PODESTA: [Y]ou don't have to be a genius to know that when Karl Rove sent Scott McClellan to the podium to say he wasn't involved, he was not telling the truth. And, I think, at this point, as he sits there as deputy chief of staff in charge of coordinating the Homeland Security Council the National Security Council, he's not serving the president, he's not serving the country. And I think that if he had an ounce of character, he'd do the right thing and resign.
and
MR. PODESTA: ...they want us to be talking about Wilson. If you listen to what Mr. Mehlman just did this morning, it's just more of the same: attack, attack, attack. That's what got him in trouble two years ago. They tried to smear Mr. Wilson. They tried to--as one anonymous source, again in the White House, said, it was about revenge back in 2003. And now they're trying to change the subject, attack Democrats, attack their critics. But the facts are that Mr. Rove said he wasn't involved. Clearly, the one thing we know at the end of this week was that that was a lie [emphasis CCM's]. McClellan's credibility is in shreds. I think Mr. Rove's credibility is in shreds. He holds a senior-level national security position, Tim. You know, they kind of make him out to be just a political guy. He's the deputy chief of staff in charge of coordinating the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council. He doesn't belong in the White House at this point.
Nice to see the Dems finally have the guts to use the word "lie", so commonly (and rightfully) deployed against Bill Clinton, and so uncommonly -- and wrongfully -- avoided when George W. Bush and his lying band of liars tell their lying lies.

I'm starting to think we might be living in a fully functioning modern democracy again -- you know, one with a media that is equally skeptical of both (all?) sides, and one with a vertebrate opposition.

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