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FNL Defends An Indefensible Trio: Bolton, Cornyn, DeLay

Reported by Nancy - April 12, 2005 -

Yesterday (4/11) on FNL, in the midst of all their excitement over a "live hostage situation" in NJ, Brigitte Quinn & David Asman still managed to squeeze in the usual political spin, including a "Happy Iraq" segment from Bret Baier. This time around, though, the Dem/progressive guests managed to make some good points -- particularly Martin Frost, Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) & Bruce Reed.

Political spin included:

11:07am Quinn said, with her usual tone of awe & reverence, that Israeli PM ASharon is getting ready to meet with Bush in Crawford.

11:07am Quinn showed pix of Capitol Hill where she said Senators "are grilling" Bolton, then interviewed Rich Galen (GOP) & PJ Crowley (Dem). Quinn said one criticism of Bolton is that he's "too gruff " & asked if that's a problem. Galen laughed & said "not for me" & not for the majority of Americans. Crowley said that nominating a "confrontationalist" sends a mixed message about what we want to accomplish with the UN. Galen bashed the UN in general, saying that the Secy-General is "overseeing enormous misspending of money", the Oil-for-Food program is 'just a disaster" & there are sex abuse problems both in NY & overseas, while Bolton just "wants to cut down on unbelievably bloated bureaucracy". He advocated that the US should remind the UN that "America pays $1 of every $5" of their salaries. Crowley retored that the UN can be "only as effective as its leading member wants it to be." Quinn noted there are reports that Bolton pressured an intel agent re WMDs, & Galen claimed that the agent in 2002 said the opposite. Crowley said that has "already come up in testimony today", & Bolton "acknowledged he had a difference of opinion" with this analyst. Quinn showed video of protesters against Bolton, & Galen sneered, said "I rest my case" & laughed (joined by Quinn). Quinn asked if Bolton has been wrong to call North Korea's leader a "tyrannical dictator" & Crowley said what's important is "Have we been successful" in dealing wiith North Korea & answering his own question "no" because it's gone "from bad to worse" under Bolton's management. Quinn asked if Bolton will be confirmed. Galen said "absolutely" but if there's a "political fight I welcoem it." Crowley said it will depend on Sen Lincoln Chafee.
Comment: while I expect some of FNL's guests to behave as boorishly as Galen, Quinn's demeanor was even more offensive. Sniggering is not professional.

11:13am teasers included: Bush job approval ratings slipping [comment: "nosediving" is more like it].

11:16am Quinn noted that JBolton is testifying in Congress, injecting two personal opinions: that Dems are "taking some swipes at him" & that a "lotta analysts seem to agree he'll be confirmed."

11:17am Quinn noted that protesters were chanting & burning American flags in Bakuba, then interviewed Steve Emerson ("counterterrorism analyst" & author of "Jihad"). Quinn noted there are "not as many deadly attacks now" in Iraq as there pre-election, & Emerson agreed, saying the "tide has turned." They discussed whether al-Sadr can re-equip his miiltia, & Emerson said "he might, under cover of peaceful demonstrations." Quinn asked what the insurgents are doing now, & Emerson said they're targeting individuals, which he called "unfortunate" because "we can't protect everybody."

11:25am - Quinn noted that Bush's poll numbers have dropped from 48% (Mar) to 44% (Apr), then interviewed Bruce Reed (DLC) & Matthew Dowd (GOP strategist). Quinn asked "how good or bad" is an approval rating of 44%, & Dowd shrugged that off as being "at the low end of normal range" claiming that it has "more to do with gas prices." Reed made a goog analogy, saying the slippage was "like private accounts" because Bush saved up some political capital, made some bad investments, & now that capital is all gone. Dowd was amused by that, & repeated that Bush's approval ratings have been in the "same range for 2 yrs." Reed persisted, noting that a "number of things aren't going right" (e.g., deficit, nation going broke) & got in another good dig, pointing out that Bush promised he'd be worrying about terrorists, but so far he seems to be worring about federal judges. Quinn decided to change the subject & laughed about some polls re whether voters would support a woman candidate for President. Dowd claimed that a "qualified woman has just as good a shot as any male candidate" & Reed said he thinks "it's great that both parties are seriously considering" women candidates.

11:32amBret Baier at the Pentagon reported on what Quinn called the "changing of the guard in Iraq" & what he called a "realignment" of US troops. According to Baier, the Pentagon may possibly pull as many as 40,000 troops home by early next year (100,000 will stay). Other data he cited: >140 attacks/day have decreased to 30 attacks/day; there are estimated to be >10,000 insurgents; Pentagon says "we are hitting our goals"; 152,000 Iraqis have been trained & equipped to date; & Rumsfeld says "I worry about being excessively optimistic."

12:07pm Asman said there was a "massive terror sweep" in Baghdad to intro "exclusive video" & a gung-ho report from Steve Harrigan in Baghdad. Harrigan said the raids "nabbed 65 suspects" & showed the usual night-raid videos (soldiers bashing down doors & ransacking houses, terrified children crying, sleepy Iraqi adults being hustled away from their distraught families) as well as some video of student protests in Bakuba.
Comment: Greg Kelly filed a report later the same day for Special Report, on the same topics & using what appeared to much of the same video; but Kelly's tone & content were significantly more sober.

12:09pm Bret Baier essentially repeated his earlier report about "realignment" of US troops, adding a clip of Sen Norm Coleman (R-MN) [comment: Coleman is a FNL fave, for obvious reasons].

12:15pm Asman said that Bush is "getting out in front of" a Middle East peace plan, talking with Ariel Sharon right now, then interviewed Fred Barnes (reactionary ideologue). According to Barnes, Sharon wants US help in pulling out of Gaza, & for the US to back off re settlements in the West Bank. Also according to Barnes, it's all about whether the Palestinians will cooperate -- not about Israelis honoring the terms of the "roadmap." Even Asman pointed out what he called the "weird position" of the US towards Israeli settlements ("helping Israel knock 'em down, then helping Palestinians rebuild them"). Barnes just made excuses for the Israeli settlers, including that "some will, some won't" go peacefully.

12:24pm - Asman said the "battle" re judicial nominations "heating up" & interviewed Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) & Sen Jon Cornyn (R-TX). Asman's first question, however, was about John Bolton. When Nelson pointed out that Bolton is not the "best representative of America to represent us at" the UN & that was "not very successful as an arms negotiator" Asman's ploy became clear: he asked Nelson if "you guys" are "gonna filibuster" Bolton. Nelson calmly replied that it may not get that far & started to explain Senate procedure. Asman turned to Cornyn & asked him about a filibuster. Cornyn didn't explain, simply said there are a "number of procedural devices" & claimed "all I'm asking for is an up or down vote on the Senate floor." He claimed "that was the rule for 200 yrs, until 4 yrs ago." Asman brought up Cornyn's recent comments re courthouse violence & asked if he wanted to elaborate on that. Cornyn said his "larger point" was that the "perception" is of "judges engaged in policy making" & claimed that those comments were an "excerpt" that was "taken out of context" because he's worried about "people losing respect for judges." Asman asked Nelson if he's concerned that Senate proceedings might be "leading to antagonism to judges" & Nelson replied that Cornyn was wrong on the facts, pointing out that for over 250 yrs filibusters have been used "to prevent extremists from forcing their will" on the Congress. Asman asked then why didn't GOPs ever use it against Dem nominees & Nelson said because "it's there to protect the minority" (which Dems haven't been, until recently). Nelson also remarked that "today's minority will be tomorrow's majority."

12:43pm Asman showed a clip of Santorum & called him "one of the possible cracks in the wall" of GOP support for DeLay, then interviewed Martin Frost (Dem) & Frank Donatelli (GOP). Asman got right to the point, asking if DeLay is losing. Donatelli said a lot of GOPs are "truly grateful" for how he's built the party, adding that "he really is essential" in trying to move Bush's agenda through Congress. Asman asked what Frost thought "the most serious charge against" Delay was, & Frost said there are "lots" & gave a few examples, summing up by saying DeLay is "clearly ethically challenged." Asman opined that "paying campaign money to family members" (one of the allegations about DeLay) "happens a lot inside the Beltway." When Donatelli agreed with him, Asman pressed Donatelli to "name names" but Donatelli backed off a little, saying what he meant was it's usually family members working for other members of Congress, not for their own families. Donatelli then trotted out a standard GOP ploy -- change the topic, attack someone else. In this case, he attacked the DA in TX who has indicted 3 DeLay associates, claiming "if this guy in Texas had anything on DeLay he'd be indicted by now." Frost pointed out that DeLay "was admonsihed [by the House Ethics Committee] 3 times last year," that DeLay then changed the House ethics rules & "fired" the chair of Ethics Committee. Asman asked Donatelli if the Wall St Journal editorial about DeLay had shocked him. Donatelli said "it surprised me" & trotted out another standard excuse & change-of-topic ploy ("they didn't cite anythig criminal"). Asman tried to be jovial & said to Frost if DeLay is "as bad as" you Dems think, wouldn't it be better to keep him. Frost said people want leaders "to be above reproach, regardless of party" & pointed out that it's not just the WSJ that has been running anti-DeLay pieces, citing the San Anotniio paper & David Brooks.

12:55pm ALERT - Asman said he was "getting word from Crawford" that Bush has spoken "in no uncertain terms" to ASharon re West Bank settlements & promised "details later".

12:58pm - The "Asman Observer" was about former Homeland Security director Tom Ridge "capitalizing" on his resume. Asman asked "how do ya top being the first Secretary of Homeland Security, then proceeded to document how Ridge is "getting rich" through lobbying & consulting deals with firms that have huge government contacts (e.g., Savvy Technology, which has $100M in Pentagon contracts). Asman noted that Home Depot is paying Ridge $120,000 & speculated that "chances are" Savvy Technologies is paying more. Asman's closing: this kind of things "happens all the time but that doesn't make it any easier for us taxpayers to swallow."
Comment: Credit where credit is due: Asman finally took on a GOP. No credit: if the "everybody else does it" excuse isn't good enough for Tom Ridge, why is it good enough for Tom DeLay?

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