Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Mission Accomplished ala Lieberman and Schieffer
Back in a day not too long ago, Bob Schieffer was one of two remaining television journalists with a hint of spine (the other being Keith Olberman). Every other TV news head in America was afraid of making Condoleezza Rice cry on camera and was just plain afraid of Donald Rumsfeld, but not Schieffer. Schieffer once snapped "let me just ask you to answer the question" at Condi and growled at Rummy, "Well, you really have not directly answered that question, if I may say so, Mr. Secretary."
I don't know what ever happened to that Bob Schieffer, but he was nowhere to be found on last Sunday's Face the Nation McCain campaign ad featuring Joe Lieberman. Last Sunday's Bob Schieffer was Tim Russert reincarnate.
Joe's on First
Lieberman's core message was that his boy John McCain is a better choice for commander in chief than Barack Obama because McCain was right in supporting the surge in Iraq, and Joe couldn't have picked a better straight man to help him get that message out than last Sunday's version of Bob Schieffer.
When Lieberman said "Things are really going well in Iraq today," the old Schieffer would have repied, "But what about the fact that General David Petraeus's vaunted Sons of Iraq program is unraveling?" Old Bob would have noted that the Sunni militants whom Petraeus has paid over $216 million to date to fight al Qaeda in Iraq are threatening to turn against Nuri al Maliki's government if Petraeus doesn’t keep bribing them. The old Bob might also have pointed out that our distraction in Iraq is now not only causing continued strategic and tactical setbacks in the Bananastans (Pakistan and Afghanistan), but is allowing al Qaeda to take a toehold in Algeria as well. The old Bob might have said a lot of things, but the Bob we saw last Sunday didn't say anything.
When Lieberman said, "We're in a war against Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11," the old Bob Schieffer would have hit the roof and said, "Are you seriously suggesting now that anyone in Iraq, including that gang of sand Webloes who call themselves al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, had anything whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks?" Sunday's Bob Schieffer just nodded and smiled contentedly.
At one point Schieffer said, "Well…" and it sounded like he might be ready to pounce after Joe's Freudian slip about how McCain "…puts his party ahead—excuse me, he puts his country ahead of his party."
I thought for sure Schieffer was going to burst out with, "Since when did that vainglorious mother-exploiting Miles Gloriosus McCain ever put anyone or anything ahead of himself?" Instead, Schieffer bailed Lieberman out of a jam with another straight line: "…do you believe Barack Obama is not ready to be president?"
Well I wasn't going to mention that, Bob, but since you brought it up…
It went on and on like that, and I kept thinking, boy, Schieffer has just gotten too old and too tired to do this job any more, but then it occurred to me: Lieberman has his head cross threaded so far up his wazoo it's a miracle he can talk and sit at the same time. He can't get through a five minute interview without castrating himself unless the interviewer carries him the whole way, and darned if it didn't seem like that's what Schieffer was doing last Sunday.
Any doubts I had that Bob was crutching up Joe disappeared when he came back from the break with Obama spokesman Wes Clark. It was as if Schieffer had chugged three cans of Red Bull during the commercials, and when Clark said of McCain that, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Schieffer made the sound of one jaw dropping and his eyebrows shot to his hairline, and his forehead furrowed and his wattles wagged and his baggy eyes bulged and snot ran down his nose and he gasped, "Really?"
Great Caesars ghost, Bob. Being a POW doesn't qualify anybody to organize a circle competition, much less be president of the United States. Come on, now. I mean, if getting himself shot down over Vietnam qualified McCain to be commander in chief, imagine how qualified he'd be if he'd managed to not get himself shot down.
The subsequent accusations of swiftboating and the denials of swiftboating and the apologies for the non-swiftboating and the other ado about Clark's McCain comment were enough to make you reach for the Rolaids, and maybe for that bottle of Zoloft too. It's depressing to realize how many people commenting on this year's election are as addled and anile as Bob Schieffer has become.
It's even more depressing to reflect that nearly all of the news media have fallen, once again, for the pro-Bush/McCain narrative on everything remotely related to the war on terror, especially after they fell so soundly asleep at the wheel in 2002-03. I don’t think there's much to be done about them. Our fourth estate has fallen so far and broken into so many pieces; and all the king's horses and men are likely to do is keep kicking the pieces and making even littler pieces out of them, until the only actual source of news and information and opinion is the king himself.
Schieffer needs to go, though, before he makes an even bigger embarrassment of himself. Let him take Hugh Downs's place hosting that alternative medicines infomercial. It won't be hard to find an acceptable replacement for him on Face the Nation. Heck, at this point, Katie Couric would be an improvement.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at the The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.
at 3:29 PM