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A Transparent Country?

Reported by Nancy - February 24, 2005 -

Today (2/24) FNL was (again) all Bush, all the time. Jane Skinner was in for Brigitte Quinn, & David Asman was his usual self (again). I'm happy to report one new bushism: "I live in a transparent country."

While waiting for Bush & Putin to make their joint statement, at 11:12am Asman interviewed George Mitchell (former Senator, among many other notable achievements) about Bush & Putin meeting today. Asman behaved as he usually does [comment: like an antsy 4-year-old trying to pick a fight about something, anything] but Mitchell responded calmly. Asman opened the interview by saying that today's meeting reminded him of Reagan & Gorbachev in Iceland, when Reagan walked out; he asked "could we see that sort of anger today?" Mitchell said he didn't think so, Bush "will strike the right tone ..." & Asman interrupted "Lemme just stop you there" because "some people" [comment: classic Fox euphemism] would say "he's gotta be tough". Mitchell said Bush doesn't have to be "tough" but Asman persisted in trying to paint an emotional picture of the talk, asking "Doesn't he [Bush] feel double-crossed by Putin?" Mitchell called it a "continuing problem" & said that "Bush's initial reaction [to Putin] was probably a mistake" that "he now recognizes", but emphasized that Bush would probably draw a "fine line" between being friends with Putin & trusting him entirely. Asman asked if we should "feel comfortable" that Europeans are negotiating with Iran about nukes, & Mitchell used the opportunity to reinforce the idea of diplomacy, saying that we still need the "network of alliances developed over the past half-century" which the US "took the lead in creating" & which has been "remarkably successful", adding that the Bush admin has "decided they need to repair this." He noted that this does not necessarily mean "changing policy." Asman commented that Goss says "nuclear material" is missing, & Mitchell said that's a "very real problem & there are several others." He pointed out that the missing nukes issue "has not been vigorously pursued" by the Bush admin but they have to pursue it now because "large stocks of nuclear material" constitute a real threat, not so much by Russia but "getting into other hands."

When the interview ended at 11:16am, Mitchell was asked to "stick around" but he was not involved in the subsequent interviews [comment: he must have been too "nuanced" for Fox].

At 11:20am, Skinner interviewed Sen Gordon Smith (R-OR). Like Asman, Skinner was looking for a fight, but Smith -- unlike Mitchell -- was on board for the ride. She asked "How hard" Bush should press Putin & Smith said he should press hard, saying that we're faced with a "nationalistic aggressive Russia", citing arms sales, violations of human rights, suppressing the press, subverting its own Constitution. Skinner asked if Putin would listen to Bush, noting that no one likes to be lectured. Smith said "they don't like it" but it's "important that America stand by the principles the President so ably enumerated in his inaugural address." Smith said that Russia wants to "be part of Europe" & we want that too. Skinner asked if the US is "overreacting" & "not giving him [Putin] enough time" to achieve & maintain democracy. Smith replied that "wisely" the Bush admin is "taking the long view." He added that Russia has "no history of democracy & it does take a long time." [Comment: Smith's line about a "nationalistic aggressive Russia" is my fave du jour. He obviously has no clue that this is precisely how roughly 80% of the world would describe the US. Nor does he see the irony in saying that democracy takes a long time on the network that brings us "Happy Iraq" as though one election solved everything; or perhaps he sees, & doesn't care.]

The rest of the interviews were entirely predictable, with the usual cast of characters praising Bush. Here are some ... well, not "highlights", because there's nothing "high" about them. Here are some excerpts:

At 11:24am Arnaud de Borchgrave joined the crew. Asman introduced him as being from UPI, which as usual is technically true but does not reveal his being firmly in the radical reactionary mold. Asman called Putin a "cog in the machine of the Soviet empire", de Borchgrave responded that he's "half czar, helf democrat." Asman wanted to know "Why in God's name is Russia beginning to sell arms to Syria?" & both agreed that, for Russia, it's all about money, with de Borchgrave adding that Russia has a "desperate need to keep the military-industrial complex in business." [Comment: see above re irony.] Asman said that Putin being friendly to Assad was like "hitching his wagon to a sinking ship" & then apologized for the mixed metaphor. de Borchgrave brushed that off & agreed that Assad is "living on borrowed time." Skinner was insistent on knowing what "each side gets" (or, more precisely, "what are we getting") out of negotiations. de Borchgrave reassured her that Bush isn't giving anything away because "everything is quid pro quo." He also said that NATO has "had to concede the election [in Iraq] was extraordinary" & that NATO conceded that Bush "had done the right thing in Iraq."

Note: this interview was really LONG by FNL standards, since they had to kill a lot of air time waiting for Bush & Putin. With a short break for Wendell Goler to read some of the "paper statement" that was handed to the press at the end of the meeting, this interview dragged on until ...

11:39am, when Fred Barnes (radical reactionary ideologue & Fox regular) joined them. The most interesting (to me) of his opinions were that the missing nukes are "important" but "Iran, that's paramount in the long run"; & that "Iranians after all don't need nuclear power anyway because they've got so much oil" [comment: sounds like the same reason we invaded Iraq, doesn't it?].

By 11:45am, still waiting for Bush, Zanny Minton-Beddoes (The Economist) joined the group. She & Skinner had a little conversation about the "atmosphere" of the Bush-Putin talk, which was interrupted by Asman to show pix of the "greetings" in Bratislava. Asman pointed out CRice & blathered on for a while, then noted that the "First Lady has come into the room" & "everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for" Bush. Skinner & Minton-Beddoes continued chatting, until ...

11:52am, when FNL began live coverage of Bush's statement, followed by (11:58am) Putin's statement with simultaneous translation & (12:05pm) Q&A with the press. One new bushism: "I live in a transparent country."

The press conf ended at 12:25pm. Asman showed clip of Bush's statement, & he, Barnes & Minton-Beddoes bloviated for a while. Asman called it a "fascinating" press conf because "a lotta people thought" Putin would be on the defense, but POTUS "seemed to be more on the defensive", putting on his best gee-whiz voice to say that the "first Russian journalist attacked Bush!" Barnes ignored that, attacked the Russian journalists (:they seemed more defensive") & praised Bush. Bill Kristol (radical reactionary ideologue & Fox regular) joined the group at 12:30pm & followed Barnes's lead, criticizing the Russian press ("was the press confenece televised live in Russia?") & praising Bush (Bush was "quite good" in putting democracy at the center, but "too polite or credulous in taking questions from Russian reporters"). FNL showed abother clip of Bush as going to ad break at 12:36pm, & the lovefest continued ...

Comment: As usual, the narrow focus allowed FNL to avoid mention of stories they ignore on a continuing basis (e.g., Bernie Ebbers/Worldcom trial, any health or science story, civil war in Congo, criminal investigations of Halliburton, the entire continent of Africa, the deficit, Gannon/Guckert, Haiti, the possible reinstatement of a military draft ...)

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's coverage of the Bush/Putin meeting). O/T comments will be deleted. Please use the O/T category from the list at right to post unrelated comments. Thanks.