Sunday, March 18, 2007

The March 18th, 2007 FNS Sunday Show-palooza

Quite the morning at FNS.

First off, Senator Schmuck Schumer's conflict of interest, or "Senator Specter almost grows a spine":

WALLACE: This week, you said that New York Democratic Senator Schumer -- that his role leading the investigation into the U.S. attorneys at the same time that he's running the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is a conflict of interest. Has he crossed a line here?

SPECTER: I think he has. And I confronted Senator Schumer on it eyeball to eyeball on Thursday in the Judiciary Committee meeting.

But let's look at what the facts are. Senator Schumer is leading the inquiry, and the day after we have testimony about Senator Domenici, he puts his name up on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticizing or really making the argument that he ought not to be re- elected.

Now, I think that the inquiry by the Judiciary Committee ought to have at least a modicum of objectivity, and if Mr. Schumer is doing a job to defeat Senator Domenici, which he is now -- that's his job as chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee -- that he puts it up on their Web site the very next day, and then he has made very conclusory and judgmental statements all along.

And I challenged him on that a week ago in the Judiciary Committee, and he calls it a purge, and he's taken a very political stance. Now, he's got a right to do that. He's a politician and I'm a politician.

But I don't think he can do both things at the same time without having a conflict of interest, but that's up for him to decide.

WALLACE: Senator, we only have about 30 seconds left. Are you calling on Senator Schumer to step down -- if he's going to continue this political effort, are you calling on him to step down in terms of leading the investigation?

SPECTER: Nope, I'm calling on him to use his own judgment on that. If I call him to step down, somebody's going to say Arlen Specter is trying to stifle this investigation, and I'm not.
I've been totally cooperative, as all of my Republican colleagues have been, with this investigation. But when he has a conflict of interest, I'm not going to be afraid to say so

I would have been more encouraged to hear him truly go after Schumer on the issue but I'll take what I can get. The fact that he even brought it up is worth a brownie-point or two.

Next on the agenda, an interview with the man that you almost made President, John Kerry. It's too painful to put in words my utter disbelief that this man came within a state of the Presidency. Read the transcript and you'll understand.

Of course we wind down as always with the panel discussion, with this week's edition far more animated than many as a result of the topics: Valerie Plame and Iraq. It wouldn't be Sunday without the usual Juan Williams bitch-slapping and this time around we get two for the price of one. First on Plame:

WILLIAMS: Well, let's question somebody else's credibility. What happened to President Bush who said, "You know what, I'm going to investigate this and look into whether or not there was any such activity in my White House?"

According to the White House chief of security this week, he knows of no such investigation.

HUME: Can you imagine what would have happened once a special prosecutor had been named if the White House itself was still trying to conduct some type of inquiry on this?

LIASSON: He can do it now. He can do it now.

WILLIAMS: Of course he should -- the president said that he was going to do it, Brit, and apparently nothing was done.

HUME: It was done, if my memory serves, by the Department of Justice, which we are...

LIASSON: Wait a minute. What the president said is if anybody leaks anything in my White House, they're going to be out. That's different investigating the whole Plame...

HUME: And the guy who did leak it is out.

LIASSON: One of them.

HUME: Well, you say one. There was only one leak that ever mattered. And that was the one that first brought her name into the public eye. That was not done by the White House or through the White House. It was done by a guy at the State Department.
WILLIAMS: So it's only the first knife into the back that counts. All the other knives, that's okay.

HUME: Juan, look. Once something is out, it's out.

Second on the cautious optimism on the Surge:

WILLIAMS: Someone is trying to compromise with you, Bill. Someone is trying to say here is a reason -- OK, immediate withdrawal -- you think that's wrong, that might endanger American national interests. We'll do it slowly. We'll try to encourage some political development.

Chris asked Mara, "What about what's going on on Capitol Hill?" I think the key development here is the lack of political progress in Iraq. Where are the Iraqis in terms of making deals and allowing some kind of consensus government to form?

They're not helping. Why are we putting our people at risk?


HUME: Well, Juan, two points. First of all, one of the critical elements in a political compromise that is thought necessary here is a petroleum revenue distribution measure.


HUME: The cabinet has now completed that, and it appears that it is on its way to passage. That's one thing the Iraqis are doing.

The other thing is you heard the military spokesman say this week was that the Iraqis have stepped up, they have sent the units into Baghdad they've said they would.

They are clearly trying their best to hold up their end of the bargain. So in two areas there, you have the Iraqis making a difference.

The other thing is we used to have a problem in places like Sadr City that U.S. and combined U.S.-Iraqi units couldn't go in there to try to sweep that place because it was too politically sensitive because of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Well, the Iraqi government has given the green light to all of that. Muqtada al-Sadr has gone to ground, thought to be in Iran, and the Mahdi army has melted away.

So just on those three counts alone, Juan, it's fair to say that while we're a long way from any kind of final success here, the Iraqi government has stepped up. They are doing something different. The strategy is different.

And the problem with the debate in the Congress as I see it at the moment is that the Democrats seem impervious to the fact that something genuinely new is being tried there. That doesn't mean it's going to work, but it does mean that it is something different.

WILLIAMS: No, but here's the thing. The Pentagon this very week, Brit, said this is a civil war. They're using that language that has been resisted by the White House and by Republicans. It's a civil war.

The second thing to say here is...

HUME: Well, all that may be, Juan, but would you dispute that militarily at least some signs of progress are evident, and that on the political side there are signs of progress evident there as well?

WILLIAMS: Well, that's why you have military people in this town calling it, you know, by this derisive term, the "whack-a-mole" strategy.

You've got a huge surge right now. Some people withdraw. Some people wait. Are we going to be there forever to try to hold peace between warring sects?

HUME: Evidently.

WILLIAMS: That's not the American military interest. That's not why we should be there. So, yes, for the moment, you look like you have a decrease in violence, but you know what? It's not anything that we can say is now in place to offer a stable future for Iraq or for our interests in the Middle East.

HUME: Things are better or not?

WILLIAMS: Better for what? For the moment?

HUME: Well, that's the only time we can talk about here.

Juan apparently didn't catch that little tidbit of polling news earlier in the weekend. Like I said though, it just wouldn't be Sunday...

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