Monday :: Sep 20, 2004

Twittledumb And Twittledumber


by pessimist

I'm very glad that I don't live in South Dakota - which is a lovely state - because of the political situation there.

I dislike incumbent Senator Tom Daschle with a passion. The last time he showed any real initiative was when he challenged a favored colleague for the leadership post and won though an underdog. What he's done since he won that post was act like an underdog. He's incompetent as a leader and as a Senator. If I lived in South Dakota, I would be considering replacing him.

But ex-Representative John Thune is a clueless GOP clone who babbles the party taking points without a single independent thought connected to them. If I lived in South Dakota, I couldn't vote for this man - which leaves me looking at the other candidates.

Thankfully for South Dakota, I don't live there and don't have to make this decision.

I was watching these two on Meet The Press [9/19/04], and it was an interesting watch. Tim Russert started out doing his partisan Republican act, rushing Daschle with questions before he was even finished giving his answer to the previous question while allowing Thune plenty of time to regroup between questions.

But something happened which caused Russert to revert back to journalist mode. I hope, through the aid of the transcript, to figure out what that something was.

I just read over the transcript, and I think I have it - Thune showed that he's out of tune.

Russert is discussing with Daschle about the relative lack of international support. Daschle has this to say:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Daschle, don't cut and run, stay the course.

SEN. DASCHLE: Tim, if I could just say, if South Dakota were a country, we'd be the seventh largest coalition partner today. And that explains I think the problem that we have with regard to this international support effort. We ought to have more involvement, more commitment from the international community than we're getting right now. ... It doesn't have to be troops. We need a lot of people on the ground. When I was in Iraq, we actually had tank commanders going door to door to try to help build the infrastructure for sewer and water and electricity. We have a lot of needs there for law enforcement. We have a lot of things we ought to be doing that we're not doing just because this administration has failed to get the kind of international cooperation we need. ... think we need a lot more engineers. We need a lot more peacekeepers. We need a lot more security advisers. We need a lot more help with regard to building the Iraqi police network in the country.

MR. RUSSERT: From where?

SEN. DASCHLE: From all countries, from Europe, from NATO, from the U.N., from Asia. We ought to be getting it in a lot more levels of help than we're getting right now. ...just as we did 10 years or 12 years ago with President Bush's father, they indicated at that point they knew it was in their best interests because we persuaded them that it was. For some reason, we've not been able to do that this time. We need to persuade them that this is in their interest to be helpful, to be on the ground, to work with us to create the stability, to see that economic growth. That isn't happening.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that President Bush's fault?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I think it's--in large measure it's this administration's fault, no question about it.

This is where Thune wakes up the Inner Investigative Journalist that hides within Tim Russert:

MR. RUSSERT: What do you think?

MR. THUNE: Well, I just think that, you know, it's fine to say all that, but the same issue prevails and that is, you know, the answer is, we'll internationalize the war. You know, we need more support from Europe. We've got a lot of support from Europe, the U.K., Italy, Belgium, other countries are standing with us over there in the theater. And the French are starting to soften some of their opposition to this. But I think at the end of the day, just saying well, we need to get more support, I don't know how you go about doing that. I mean, that, to me, what if they say no? I mean, why would you want to send their--you know, why would they want to send their people?

People of South Dakota - Be Very Afraid!

MR. RUSSERT: What if they say no, Mr. Thune? The United States will be there experiencing 90 percent of the casualties and costs for years to come?

Thune babbles out the standard GOP talking points, and demonstrates how clueless he is.

They talk on for a bit concerning Senator Kerry's voting record, and Daschle pops out with this:

SEN. DASCHLE: ... We've got to make sure that we have broader international involvement. Costa Rica, I'm told, just dropped out of the coalition this last week. Ninety-five percent, virtually, of all the troops on the ground, the sacrifice, 90 percent of the resources that are being committed today are being committed by the U.S. taxpayer, and that's unfair. We have a broader responsibility than that worldwide, and that ought to be reflected.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that John Kerry is more capable of drawing in an international coalition in Iraq than George Bush?

SEN. DASCHLE: I do, absolutely.

Here, Daschle, having made a good point, misses an opportunity to drive home HOW he can believe that John F. Kerry is more capable of creating that international coalition that will be absolutely necessary to stabilize Iraq - the recent poll which showed the world favors Kerry over Bu$h 2-1. This is why he's out of his league as party leader - he misses his chances to win.

Russert goes back to exposing Thune's incompetence and ignorance:

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Thune, let me talk to you about the lead-up to the war and this emphasis on the weapons of mass destruction and ask you something specifically that you said on October 8 of 2002. "There's a high probability that [Saddam Hussein] is able to add nuclear capability to extend missiles to the United States."

Where did that come from? I've read all the intelligence estimates. Where did you find that Saddam had the probability of nuclear missiles?

MR. THUNE: I think the intelligence was clear and that is that he had--he could build missiles. He had, you know, developing nuclear capability based on all the intelligence we had at the time. I think it was a threat to the United States. It was a more immediate threat to that region of the world. But, you know, when we made that vote, when we voted to authorize in the resolution of force back in 2002, most of us as members of Congress, I was in the House at the time, and of course Tom in the Senate, made that vote based upon information that we were provided, based on intelligence that had been furnished to us.

I think at the time--we now know that he still has the intention, he still has the capability as has been determined I think since that time. He doesn't have the stockpiles, or at least, we haven't found them yet, but I think that when the president very aptly described the axis of evil--Iran, North Korea and Iraq-- there there was a potentiality of nuclear weapons in each of those countries, and I believe that it was the correct move to vote for the resolution of force.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say high probability that Saddam had nuclear missiles. The National Intelligence Estimates that you saw, were able to see--this is what the State Department said in response to that. "The activities we have detected do not...add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what the [State Department bureau of intelligence and research] would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."

There was no hard evidence that Saddam had a "high probability of nuclear weapons." Was that a scare tactic?

MR. THUNE: I don't believe that's a scare tactic, Tim. And I think that there was a lot of anecdotal evidence that had been collected over time in the region. We certainly knew that there had been a past history of using Scud missiles and that sort of thing on neighbors in the region. There were--you know, there were--the capabilities, in my judgment, were such that we needed to be alert in this country. I think that he was a threat, not only to that region, but to the broader world and the United States. You know, clearly, with biological and chemical weapons, but I also think the nuclear threat existed. I don't believe that's a scare tactic. I think that we are dealing with a very dangerous man who had proven over time that he was willing to murder and butcher and slaughter, you know, hundreds of thousands of his own people.

MR. RUSSERT: But that's a lot different than--would you now acknowledge that there is no high probability that Saddam had nuclear missiles?

MR. THUNE: Well, I think we've all concluded since, you know, the--we've gone into Iraq and a lot of the things that have been discovered since that time, that some of the intelligence was--the sourcing was weak and some of the information that we had was, perhaps, not as accurate as it should have been.

MR. RUSSERT: Was it hyped?

MR. THUNE: I don't believe it was hyped. I mean, I think that, you know, we were presented with information and the best intelligence that we had. You know, now you look back at it in retrospect and say, well maybe, you know, there was some short comings in our intelligence community and some of the information that was gathered that many of us made that decision based upon. But I think based upon the information that we had at the time that many of us, as members of Congress, made a decision that we thought was in the best interests of the national security of the United States and to a cause of, you know, making sure that there was stability in a region of the world on which we are very dependent.

South Dakota - I don't like Daschle, but I fail to see how you can vote for this idiot!

But on the other hand, Daschle proceeds to show his blindness and why he's unworthy for office. Russert runs one of Daschle's campaign ads, which shows how he's worked with the Bu$h (mis)Administration to rebuild the military. Anyone who reads the news knows how well that has gone, and if South Dakota is the seventh largest Coalition partner, so do a lot of South Dakotans. This opens Daschle up to attack, which Thune - junk-yard Chihuahua that he is, proceeds to do. Russert picks up on this theme, taking Daschle to task to supporting Bu$h one minute and slamming him the next. Any realistic person would understand that this is going to happen. Some things a pResident proposes are worth supporting and others are not. Daschle says it this way:

SEN. DASCHLE: ... if we're going to do what we have to do to represent the people of our state, we just can't follow this president or any president. I will support him when he's right. I will oppose him when he's wrong. That I think is what the people of South Dakota expect.

It would be nice if they got it once in a while, Tom. From this next exchange with Russert, Daschle shows that South Dakota used to get it from him:

MR. RUSSERT: The Wall Street Journal described it as the Daschle dead zone. "All of these have been part of a deliberate political strategy by Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He has organized filibusters that have blocked votes ... stymied votes." They cite welfare reform, human cloning prohibition, medical malpractice, bankruptcy reform, flag burning and desecration, death tax repeal, Head Start reform, energy bill--all legislation that passed the House but died in the Senate graveyard because of you.

SEN. DASCHLE: Tim, that same editorial board came out against the farm bill, against the highway bill, against the ethanol bill, against the energy bill. They're in favor of privatization of Social Security; virtually everything that South Dakota opposes. So I would question anybody who would rely on that source. That same Wall Street Journal, by the way, about two weeks ago said that it's really the Republicans' inability to get their act together, to agree among themselves on virtually every one of those issues that has caused the failure, the breakdown in the passage of this legislation.

Daschle and Thune get into a Pee-wee Herman-style "I know you are! What am I?" argument over judicial appointments, which shows to me that neither one of these guys belongs in office. Their egos are too wrapped up in the position they seek - not the good of the nation.

Russert tries to look at their respective records, and looks at a Thune campaign ad which tries to establish that Thune is independent of Bu$h. Even Russert doesn't appear to buy that idea, and Thune and Daschle go Pee-wee again.

It goes on this way for a while, ti-for-tat, until Russert causes Thune to step on a landmine and bring out the Tom Daschle that should be out front:

MR. RUSSERT: But you have no problem with the head of your party saying he gives comfort to America's enemies?

MR. THUNE: I would not have chosen those words but let me say this. I have talked to a lot of soldiers in South Dakota. I talked to a soldier recently who said that Tom's comments going into the war on the eve of war when we had South Dakota men and women in the Persian Gulf that he could never vote for him again. And what it does is emboldens our enemies and undermines the morale of our troops and I...

MR. RUSSERT: His words embolden the enemy?

MR. THUNE: His words embolden the enemy. I think they do.

Earlier, Tom Daschle pointed out that he is a veteran while Thune is not (ANOTHER Chickenhawk!). The veteran rises to the challenge and attacks:

SEN. DASCHLE: That's disappointing. That is very disappointing, Tim. John's attacks on me, where I come from, would earn a trip to the woodshed. He knows that's wrong. His effort to demonize me won't work in South Dakota. It's not only an attack on me--I take this personally. It's not only an attack on me, it's an attack on where I'm from. I got my values from my mother and dad to tell the truth, to play by the golden rule, to play by the golden rule, to do unto others as you would do unto yourself. Love of country, flag, work and dream but work harder than you dream--that's South Dakota. To do it the right way, to do the right thing, those values are as important to me as my arm. And I think that John ought to reflect on that before he makes a charge like that again. ... But you know what? I'm the veteran. There's only one veteran running here. I've been to funerals. I've been to Iraq. As I said, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of those thousand people who died and those 7,000 people who have given up something of their body for this country. I was concerned about them then. When you've been a veteran, those things matter, Tim. Those things matter a lot.

MR. THUNE: Let me say that...

SEN. DASCHLE: And I don't know that John understands that but I will tell you this, these matters are very, very critical and we ought to take great care. This administration has made a lot of mistakes. They didn't have a plan. We know that now. We aren't giving our troops the body armor they need. We're not listening to the military commanders. We're not providing the kind of help internationally that we should be providing.

Now if THIS Senator Daschle was running, I'd feel a whole lot better about voting for him if I lived in South Dakota. I'd feel a whole lot better about him leading the Democrats in the Senate, and I'd feel a whole lot better about the future of the nation.

Personal to Tom Daschle - your nation is at stake. Get angry. Get mad, like you do here. Then get to work !

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pessimist :: 2:27 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!