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Susan Estrich, A FOX News Disgrace To Democrats (Updated)

Reported by Ellen - January 25, 2006

Those who complain that Alan Colmes is a faux liberal (I don’t) ought to get a good look at Susan Estrich. She subbed for him on Hannity & Colmes the past two nights and is clearly angling for more. Giggly and giddy, she was much more interested in flirting with Republicans than in coming up with any Democratic insights. In fact, most of the time, she seemed oblivious to what Democrats are doing and thinking. It was enough to make Colmes look like Howard Dean to even the most ardent Colmes-hater.

During the first discussion of last night’s show (1/24/06), about Judge Alito’s appointment getting voted out of committee, Estrich, a lawyer, didn’t ask a single question about Judge Alito’s legal record. The second segment was about Rep. John Conyers’ informal hearing last Friday (1/20/06) to investigate President Bush’s domestic spying. Estrich seemed unknowledgeable about the hearings and showed very little interest in them once she did get the facts. But flirting with Sean Hannity was a different matter.

She introduced the discussion by misrepresenting the point of the hearing, saying it was to consider impeaching the president. Letting her disapproval be known, she said, “Get this one. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee met Friday to consider impeaching President Bush for his role in the domestic spy program.” Then she made a “tsk” noise.

The guest was one of the members at the meeting, Rep. Bobby Scott. Estrich started by saying in her bubbly, Carol Channing voice, “Congressman, help me. I’m a Democrat. You’re a Democrat. Why are you guys doin’ this?”

Comment: Wouldn’t a sincere Democrat have done a wee bit of research to find out in advance what the hearing was all about, especially if it was something she didn’t approve of? One quick Google search or a look at Congressman Conyers’ website would have turned up the truth, that the hearing was for the purpose of investigating “President Bush’s controversial warrantless surveillance program by the NSA.”

Of course, Rep. Scott quickly set her straight on the real subject of the hearings and said that there are serious concerns as to whether President Bush has violated the law.

With wide-eyed Carol Channing-like astonishment, Estrich said, “I agree with you on that but the minute people hear the word ‘impeachment,’ they think we’ve lost our minds!”

Scott told her that the meetings were not about impeachment.

Sounding even more astonished, she asked, “Are these reports inaccurate?”

Scott said that the focus right now is investigating what happened. He said that everybody agrees that they want the president to chase down terrorists with wiretaps. “The only thing is that we have a procedure in America where you get a warrant before you wiretap somebody. Just like the president said was necessary. He said that last year.”

Estrich, sounding a little drunk, said, “I agree with you. But are you suggesting that if you and I are right, that if we’re right about our reading of the Constitution (sidelong glance at Hannity) as opposed to Sean being right about HIS reading of the Constitution, that the remedy for the president being wrong about his reading of the Constitution is that he should be impeached?” She sounded like it was the craziest thing imaginable. Also, notice how she changed the issue from breaking the law to different interpretations of the Constitution.

Scott repeated his point that Estrich seemed determined to miss. “We haven’t gotten there because we don’t know what he’s doing.” Scott then added that they had held their hearing in the basement because the Judiciary Committee refused to hold a hearing.

In fact, as Conyers’ press release states, “All 17 House Judiciary Democrats called on Chairman Sensenbrenner to convene hearings to investigate the President’s use of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance involving U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, in apparent contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Our request has since been ignored… I believe we simply cannot tolerate a situation where the Administration is both laying down and interpreting the law on its own accord, and not even sharing with the Members of Congress what the legal justification for such a program is.”

That should be a matter of concern to any Democrat, especially one who’s a law professor and a pundit. But Estrich showed no knowledge of nor interest in what happened at the hearing. Her only goal seemed to be to ridicule Democrats for talking about impeachment – a subject that was tangential at best.

Then it was Sean Hannity’s turn. Hannity’s schoolyard-bully voice was apparent at the start as he asked his favorite gotcha question about domestic spying: Hannity quoted “the president,” saying “the attorney general of the United States is authorized to approve physical searches without a court order.” Then he asked, “Are you saying that the president’s not being forthright with the American people?” Of course, Hannity had quoted Clinton, not Bush.

Scott didn’t fall for it, though he wasn’t completely sure who said it. As “Impeach Bush?” appeared on the screen, Scott said, “You talking about this president or the last president? The law changed.”

Hannity, however, was itching to attack and he was not going to let the fact that Scott accurately answered his question deter him. “I hear John Kerry and I hear Al Gore, you know, out there accusing the president of repeatedly and recklessly breaking the law… You’ve got John Conyers introducing legislation to create a special panel to investigate these issues and make recommendations on the grounds for possible impeachment. You got your party saying these things on a regular basis. And yet Bill Clinton, Al Gore, every past administration did exactly the same thing. I’m just curious as to, you know, with America under the worst attack in our history if this is what you want your party to represent because I think Karl Rove is right. You guys have a pre-9/11 mentality on the left.”

Scott said, “You can call it names. All we’ve asked for is to try to find out what the facts are.”

Hannity, with his schoolyard-bully squint going now, harangued harder while he lied. “But Bill Clinton did the same thing with the Echelon program. And I didn’t hear you or John Conyers or John Kerry or Al Gore criticize him. Why is that?”

Scott wasn’t sure what Hannity was talking about and the music had started.

Estrich perkily chimed in, “But we’re not gonna impeach any of them… We’ll have you back. I love having Democrats who are happy to come on.”

Uh-oh, does this mean Estrich has a permanent gig?

Comment: Estrich repeated this behavior of siding with conservatives throughout the show, including condemning a school in Washington State that canceled its speaking engagement with Dinesh Desouza. She had promised, since the night before, to tell Hannity why she was against the war in Iraq. But when the time came, at the end of the show, she agreed with Hannity that “The world is a better place without Saddam.” She continued, “But the larger question is…” She paused with her finger in the air, then sang, “Dum, da-dum, dum, dum! How am I gonna answer that in 15 seconds." Pointing coyly at Hannity, she said, “I’m gonna say there is nothing more fun than hosting with you… And I’m gonna have to come back and do it again, if you’ll let me.”

“We will have you again,” Hannity said.

1/26/06 UPDATE I was absolutely thrilled to pieces to discover that Congressman John Conyers, one of my heroes, not only read this post but called it "excellent." To quote from his blog:

I also bring to you attention an excellent summary by News Hounds of my good friend Bobby Scott's appearance on Hannity and Colmes last night. Susan Estrich was subbing as the supposedly "liberal" co-host, and her performance was really pathetic. The full post is worth a read, but it is clear her job was to ingratiate herself to Fox, not offer a useful debate.


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