Tom Friedman: We Need Constitutional Amendment Called “Can I Go Now?”

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New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman was one of the headliners at a star-studded annual “Opinions Award” dinner sponsored by The Week in partnership with the Aspen Institute on Tuesday night.
On stage, Friedman made a tongue-in-cheek proposal in response to a question from George Stephanopoulos who asked: “Are we just treading water for the next 22 months until the Bush administration leaves office?”
Tom Friedman responded:

We need a new constitutional amendment called “Can I Go Now?” Something less than impeachment but more than resignation.
President Bush just needs a “Can I Go Now?” clause in the constitution.

Friedman got a lot of applause.
Others at the dinner included magazine diva Tina Brown, George Stephanopoulos, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, Tucker Carlson, Ben Bradlee, Sir Harold Evans, Margaret Carlson (who was the real power mistress of the night and invited most of the guests — including me), Representative Jane Harman, cartoonist extraordinaire Tom Toles, Kathryn Kross, Claire Shipman, Bruce and Hattie Babbitt, Mickey Kaus, Matt Cooper, Terry McAuliffe, Michael Kinsley, Chris Matthews, Jon Fox Sullivan, Elizabeth Kieffer, and lots of other political glitterati.
Wonkette editor and my table mate Alex Pareene caught more of the evening here. Tucker Carlson and Pareene, whom I was seated next to, have apparently crossed swords in the past — and while Pareene admits successfully ducking Carlson, Carlson wanted to express some tough, not too pleasant words to the blogger so Carlson vented with me over some of Wonkette’s “over the line” commentary.
Other highlights of the evening included Chris Matthews asking the evening MC Sir Harold Evans “Why is this room 90% white?” Sir Harold responded by asking why more than 90% of the guests on Hardball are white. Matthews said that beyond all other issues, the “biggest struggle is who we are.” He argued that race and reconciliation are the issues this nation needed to deal with. He said that “the San Andreas fault line in the country is race and ethnicity.”
Tucker Carlson responded by saying that “the nation’s original sin was slavery” but that intermarriage rates between ethnic groups were rapidly increasing in the U.S. and that this was a good measure of change in the racial divide. My colleague Gregory Rodriguez at the New America Foundation has written more prolifically than anyone I know about this trend and validates Tucker Carlson’s point — but it was interesting to have Matthews just shoot this topic into the room that night.
Matthews went on to say that “Obama was a symbolic breakthrough” on the race front. Because he’s black, Matthews suggested, everyone is excited.
Washington Editor of The Week Margaret Carlson asked a panel of Tom Friedman, Tucker Carlson, Claire Shipman, and Jim Lehrer what the ’08 race would look like.
Jim Lehrer said that prognosticators on the election were all going to be wrong. He said that this election was unprecedented and that there was no conventional wisdom to rely on.
Tina Brown followed up by asking who would “bring the best people” into government. Tucker Carlson said that “the most secure candidate would bring the best people.” He said insecure people bring “yes men” and Cabinet types who will not challenge or threaten them. He said — somewhat facetiously I think — that Richard Holbrooke should be the next Secretary of State, no matter who is president. The room broke into laughter — probably because Holbrooke excels in the art of intimidation.
Ben Bradlee appealed to the audience to maintain faith in newspapers. He’s not high on computers and blogs — mostly because it’s too uncomfortable to drag the computer to the john. He said “the newspaper and magazine work best in the bathroom.”
Harold Evans asked the panel where they were on the Iraq War before the war. Tom Friedman was for the war. Jim Lehrer said he had had no opinion. Claire Shipman was undecided. Tucker Carlson said he opposed the war — and then was lobbied extensively and sold a bill of goods by the administration and supported the war, which he regrets. Carlson said he’s a “paleo” conservative and that national interests rather than democracy crusades should guide our foreign policy course.
Lehrer said that interests should always drive our foreign policy but that didn’t mean rejecting efforts to promote democracy. But he said “It’s one thing to have a war to spread democracy and another to just favor democracy.”
Carlson said that he had no problem building strong relations with a benign dictatorship (not sure if that’s an oxymoron) when it was in our national interests.
On the war and what to do in the Middle East, Friedman admitted he was out of ideas. He didn’t know what to do. I spoke to him after the program and referenced his recent appeal to the Saudis to take King Abdullah’s peace plan even further than they had. I suggested to him that while that was creative — this was a time when the U.S., Europe, the UN, Russia, the Arab League and others all had to be creative and not look to the Saudi King to take steps that severely undercut his legitimacy in the eyes of his public and in the Arab world. In fact, the initiative already moves the Arab world quite dramatically far — so that the U.S. and Israel had to respond creatively as well.
Friedman agreed — but he said that he expressed real frustration with where we are at and sees a problem in a world that is perceiving an America that has increasingly diminished capacity to achieve its objectives in the foreign policy arena.
Tucker Carlson said that he saw America moving towards an isolationist phase after this Middle East adventure. Claire Shipman agreed.
Jim Lehrer countered saying that “If Iraq goes bad, the world will need the idealism of the U.S.” I don’t quite know how Lehrer’s concept would work given that if Iraq gets even worse, American citizens are probably going to be a bit sick and tired of what Bush-style idealism untethered to reality and spiced up with presidential swagger achieved for this country.
Tom Friedman also stated that we “used to worry about a world with America having too much power. Now we have to consider what to do with a world with too little American power.”
Despite the glitter, the powerful political and journalist figures that there were there, and the high probability of a vapid evening — it was actually interesting and important.
The cynicism that ran through the room about the sorry state of American affairs in the world was palpable and shared by most there — across the majority of the political spectrum.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

72 comments on “Tom Friedman: We Need Constitutional Amendment Called “Can I Go Now?”

  1. smintheus says:

    This slobbering post is an embarrassment. Friedman is one of the biggest twerps on the scene; he and most of the others mentioned have blood on their hands for their war-cheerleading and excuse-mongering on behalf of the administration. Let them say their public mea culpas. Then perhaps they can shut up for about 15 years while the world tries to pick up the shattered pieces.

    Reply

  2. pauline says:

    Department of Homeland and Security wants master key for DNS
    30.03.2007 13:09
    The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was created after the attacks on September 11, 2001 as a kind of overriding department, wants to have the key to sign the DNS root zone solidly in the hands of the US government. This ultimate master key would then allow authorities to track DNS Security Extensions (DNSSec) all the way back to the servers that represent the name system’s root zone on the Internet. The “key-signing key” signs the zone key, which is held by VeriSign. At the meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Lisbon, Bernard Turcotte, president of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) drew everyone’s attention to this proposal as a representative of the national top-level domain registries (ccTLDs).
    At the ICANN meeting, Turcotte said that the managers of country registries were concerned about this proposal. When contacted by heise online, Turcotte said that the national registries had informed their governmental representatives about the DHS’s plans. A representative of the EU Commission said that the matter is being discussed with EU member states. DNSSec is seen as a necessary measure to keep the growing number of manipulations on the net under control. The DHS is itself sponsoring a campaign to support the implementation of DNSSec. Three of the 13 operators currently work outside of the US, two of them in Europe. Lars-Johan Liman of the Swedish firm Autonomica, which operates the I root server, pointed out the possible political implications last year. Liman himself nomited ICANN as a possible candidate for the supervisory function.
    The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which handles route management within the ICANN, could be entrusted with the task of keeping the keys. An ICANN/IANA solution would offer one benefit according to some experts: there would be no need to integrate yet another institution directly into operations. After all, something must be done quickly if there is a problem with the signature during operations. If the IANA retains the key, however, US authorities still have a political problem, for the US government still reserves the right to oversee ICANN/IANA. If the keys are then handed over to ICANN/IANA, there would be even less of an incentive to give up this role as a monitor. As a result, the DHS’s demands will probably only heat up the debate about US dominance of the control of Internet resources. (Monika Ermert) (Craig Morris) / (jk/c’t)
    http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/87655

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  3. Chesire11 says:

    “The cynicism that ran through the room about the sorry state of American affairs in the world was palpable and shared by most there — across the majority of the political spectrum.”
    Yes, I’ll bet there was general agreement about virtually everything that night. Yes men rarely differ in any matter of substance, only by degree do they distinguish themselves.

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  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Neoconfederates like Friedman worried the US had too much power?
    Is he really a snarkista in disguise? Or disgust?
    Their only worry was that they would not exercise that power unabatedly and go through its supply like crack to Condi or her husba-
    the pResident.

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  5. Jerome Gaskins says:

    Steve, I must disagree with you on the importance of this event.
    It would have been important if the attendees had proposed serious and workable solutions, instead of pretending their opinions are wise and mature, because they aren’t. A grown man, in this day and age, clinging to the “importance” of reading a newspaper while pinching a loaf? An “important” milestone in Luddism is all that is. And who cares what any of you were thinking before the war? The war is, and none of you have any influence over it.
    This was only important to the folks that attended it. In order to be relevant to the rest of us, folks like you and them must take the fight for the end of this war to ones who started it, isolate them as the thugs, liars and thieves that they are, and make them end it. Once again, we must live the wisdom of that old saying:
    Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me!
    Let them call us cowards, cut-and-runners or whatever they choose. The pundit class has the power of persuasion on its side: use it to make him gives us back our country. Take it back, by force if necessary but take it back.
    That’s the only importance this group can have in our lives at this time. You cannot inherit it, you do not deserve it, your only chance of getting it is to earn it.

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  6. Jerome Gaskins says:

    By definition, it is never in our interest to support the subjugation of ANY group of people.

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  7. Pissed Off American says:

    “Maybe its as simple as proof that Hagel stole an election using ESS —which I don’t know to be the case, needless to say. But Hagel’s corruption is probably the hook which keeps him in line. God knows he’s not motivated by any principles.”
    Posted by Marky
    Well, see, thats the point. In Hagel’s case, there isn’t a “maybe”. He definitely failed to disclose his financial interests in ES&S. Its a given, a documented fact. And the circumstances through which he “skated” are somewhat inexplicable, to say the least. In my opinion, thats why Steve refuses to address the issue. If it was a case of “maybes”, Steve might be able to spin it in Hagel’s favor, or, at least, cast doubt on the accusations against Hagel. Bottom line, I believe there is more to Steve’s support of Hagel than what we are aware of. He is being way too evasive when he is queried about Hagel’s past. And his comments about Hagel’s vote on the AG issue hardly fits the mindset of someone who just recently lamented the current state of affairs and expressed a desire for a “purge” of government. Hagel has committed the exact kinds of acts that make us pine for a purge. If Hagel runs, my bet is that Steve will play no small part in Hagel’s campaign. In fact, he acts as if he is already on Hagel’s staff.

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  8. Marky says:

    POA,
    More likely, Hagel is corrupt, and Rove’s knowledge of the details of his corruption keep him in line.
    We saw this with Specter a couple of years back, when he was ready to really jump ship until news reports about a greedy staffer lining his pocket with lobbyist money came out.
    The modern GOP WANTS corrupt politicians, and only corrupt politician in office, because they can be controlled. Maybe its as simple as proof that Hagel stole an election using ESS —which I don’t know to be the case, needless to say. But Hagel’s corruption is probably the hook which keeps him in line. God knows he’s not motivated by any principles.

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  9. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, if Hagel’s flag bearers are unwilling, or unable, to defend his past history, or his part in bringing this nation to its current low, its a safe bet his political opponents won’t be so remiss as the campaigning heats up. We will be able to tell if Hagel is to be placed on the throne by how much attention is called to his behaviour in the ES&S matter. If it is swept under the rug, like Bush’s criminal desertion of his service obligations were, we will know that Hagel is to be our next appointed imperial leader.
    Personally, I think Hagel is a Trojan Horse. The question here is why Steve signed on with someone who has proven themselves, time and again, to be firmly attached at the hip with the Bush Administration.

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  10. Alan says:

    The same set of scoundrels posing as intelligent commentators and critics. I knew Harold Evans and we discussed press issues a dozen times when he was editor of the Sunday Times in London in the sixties. He did magnificent work until Rupert Murdoch got rid of him. Since then it has been downhill. Nothing in Steve’s report tells me something I did not know about this gang. OK maybe Lehrer’s obfuscation! As for Tucker he is shallow and uses tricks as a substance for serious arguments ( e.g. I agree with you but..)
    This crowd never used their brains (here I am crediting some of them with something!) when it counted – in the run up to the war. They were flag wavers and led the pack to Iraq. And now, comfortably seated, with a full stomach, they have the luxury to reminisce. I would like to see is a list of their names, their annual incomes. That will at least tell me how much they know of the daily struggles of the vast majority of Americans whose views they purport to represent.
    This is a self-reinforcing cabal. The one thing they always manage to do is get three squares a day at someone’s expense.

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  11. marky says:

    For the record, POA, I can’t imagine that the Dems have been so focused on getting Abu G. for his torture memos that they would latch onto anything to get rid of him. It’s a nice thought though. The Dems just haven’t been coldblooded enough, although I think that is changing.

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  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “Well, if Steve’s belief that the Democrats are really after Gonzalez because of his aidition briefs for judgment at Nuremberg is correct, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
    Posted by Marky
    Thats a chuckle. Steve is shooting from the hip, his comment makes absolutely no sense. Why would the Dems need to launch a clandestine public indictment of Gonzales’ stances on torture by hiding it behind the current scandal? If his stance on torture is the issue, why not air it publically, as the attorney firings are being aired? Are we so fucking slimey now that our politicians have to HIDE an aversion to torture? I wish we were making as big a deal out of torture and rendition as we are about the attorney firings, but the fact is, we ain’t.
    Steve’s hollow treatment and cavalier dismisal of Hagel’s vote on the AG issue appears to be nothing more than standard political gamesmanship, hiding the flaws and sensationalizing assets, real or contrived. Notice that he has given more lip service to Hagel’s one time use of the word “impeachment” than he has to Hagel’s past voting history. And he still has not offered one single comment on Hagel’s handling of the ES&S matter. For whatever reason, Steve is carrying Hagel’s banner for him in the typical manner of Washington politics. Smoke screens, incomplete pictures, sensationalized patriotism, and misrepresentative commentary.

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  13. Marky says:

    Well, if Steve’s belief that the Democrats are really after Gonzalez because of his aidition briefs for judgment at Nuremberg is correct, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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  14. Mikef says:

    I’m amazed at your take on the AG scandal Steve. Do you really think that there’s no problem when a political operative like Karl Rove starts naming prosecutors without even the simple check of submitting the nominations to a Republican Senate?
    This is all about checks and balances. If we can’t trust the Justice Department to be run professionally, we’re in big trouble.

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  15. Chiaroscuro says:

    Steve, I have to thank you for these fascinating glimpses into the world of Washington insiders. I can just imagine the world-weary nods from the assembled “political glitterati” as each brahmin of bullshit offered up their pearls of wisdom.
    “The cynicism that ran through the room about the sorry state of American affairs in the world was palpable and shared by most there — across the majority of the political spectrum.”
    This is the most stunning statement of all. What should have run through that room of preening nitwits was shame, embarrassment and regret. The “sorry state of American affairs” was arrived at with the vocal and material help of almost everyone in that room, starting with headliner Tom Friedman.
    After cheerleading us into this ruinous war and occupation, Friedman now has the unmitigated gall to be frustrated “with where we are at” and to fret about a world where America’s powers are palpably diminished?
    Did any one of them, besides Tucker Carlson, evince any glimmer of understanding that they enabled the Bushies and all that has since occurred? Do any — ANY — of them accept responsibility?
    Why, oh why, do these people still command an audience? Why does anyone with an iota of reason and judgement listen to these frauds? Why are they guests of honor at awards dinners?

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  16. Jim says:

    The AG/advise and consent vote and the Iraq supplemental vote were, on one level, about the same issue: Re-establishing some check on an Executive that is utterly out of control, re-establishing the principle of three co-equal branches of government.

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  17. Zathras says:

    Having less confidence in Sen. Hagel’s future in national politics than Steve does I don’t have much to offer about his position on Alberto Gonzales.
    I do concur with other posters that Steve would be well advised to look at the US Attorney scandal in greater depth. It is a “faux scandal” only if one takes on faith administration assurances that no improper motives drove the dismissal of the Attorneys in question and no political pressure was brought to bear, either to inhibit investigations of Republicans or “juice” prosecutions of Democrats. There is precious little reason to do that based on what we know of this affair to date — even excluding the rest of this administration’s record.
    Two other points: first, the US Attorney purge and its consequences have nothing to do with Gonzales’ role in the administration policy on detainees. They just aren’t connected — for one thing, nearly everything known now about that Gonzales and detainee treatment was known during his confirmation hearings. Second, investigations supervised by one of the fired US Attorneys (Carol Lam) bore in part on the question of whether bribes were paid to influence the appropriation of funds in the Pentagon budget, and specifically in classified programs. This does have implications for the national security portfolio, and pretty serious ones at that.
    I wouldn’t blame anyone for having “scandal fatigue” by this point in the Bush administration, but that isn’t a good reason to dismiss this one.

    Reply

  18. marky says:

    Wow, Steve,
    Your comment on the AG scandal was truly shocking.
    I hope you read ALL of JMM’s coverage. There are so many things that stink, just from the small amount which has been made public. For example, Carol Lam’s investigation of Cunningham, Wilkes, et. al. was poised to become a corruption investigation of the Pentagon itself. Read TPM today and you’ll see this relates directly to the other issues you mention, by the way. In addition, there is an inexplicable award of $140,000 to MZM to provide furniture to the VP’s office; several days later, a bribe of exactly this amount was given to Cunningham (IIRC). MZM had no prior history on which to receive the contract, and proper procedure was not followed.
    It appears on the face of it that Cheney’s office was using taxpayer money to bribe a sitting Congressman.
    Let me bring up another matter which shows ‘mens rea’, in my opinion. Do you recall that Sampson mentioned several times that he wasn’t sure if there were written records of various conversations about the firings? Doesn’t this raise red flags? It sounds to me like this practice might violate some recordkeeping laws.
    In fact, there is reason to believe that records and emails were kept on RNC servers rather than .gov servers, in order to hide what they were doing. Not only is this probably illegal, this behavior by Karl Rove and others in the White House creates a tremendous national security risk, because those servers are not secure.
    I have noticed a couple times in the past that when an issue does not touch on one of your pet concerns, you tend to dismiss it. I think your other issues are quite compelling, but if you are making a hasty judgment without reading all of the material by JMM, you are making a mistake. Josh is the one who broke the story, and where he is today is a week to a month ahead of where the rest of the media is.

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  19. Chesire11 says:

    I just don’t accept that attempting to pervert and obstruct the course of justice is a contrived scandal. As Josh Marshall has pointed out over at TPM, none of the reasons for the firings presented by the Justice Department hold water, which strongly suggests that they really don’t want the real reason to see the light of day.
    Given the pressures exerted on some of the USA’s to investigate and indict Democrats with an eye toward the electoral ramifications, the fact that Carol Lam was removed as her corruption investigations were heating up and the documented gross imbalance in prosecutions of Dems vs. Republicans since the Bush junta took power, there’s more than enough real smoke to suspect a real fire.

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  20. Den Valdron says:

    I dunno Steve. I tend to disagree. The firing of attorneys seems to relate directly to the politicization of the US Attorney’s branch, and the committment to using them as a covert litigation arm of the Republican Party.
    You might consider that a ‘fake’ scandal. But from where I sit, your country can’t survive a few ‘fake’ scandals like that.
    It’s nothing less than the survival of Democracy in America.

    Reply

  21. Steve Clemons says:

    POA and others — am traveling now and can’t respond much. But in response to POA, I’ve commented on Hagel’s politics many times and have already stated that there are some things the Senator has done I agree with and other policies I don’t. My priority is America’s national security portfolio, and there I agree with Senator Hagel. His AG vote does not bother me…end of story there.
    While I’d love to see Gonzaeles go, I believe that this battle is somewhat fake — and is really a proxy battle that has more to do with Gonzales’s despicable role in laying a legal rationalization for torture techniques and disappearing people through extraordinary rendition. But if we have to fight over a contrived issue of the political firing of attorneys to vent anger and frustration over other bad things that Gonzaeles has done, that’s fine with me….but seriously, I don’t believe the attorney battle is really about attorneys. So given that, Hagel’s vote on the iraq appropriations bill is vastly more important than his vote on the AG/advise and consent legislation.
    Best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  22. Chirs Marlowe says:

    After all the damage the US has done to the Middle East and its own reputation, I welcome an America which is much weaker on the international stage.
    The American people elected Bush, and it is right and proper that the American people reap the results of their own decision.
    This is justice!

    Reply

  23. Chesire11 says:

    The whole evening sounds pretty banal to me, but why would anyone expect insight from a pack of talking heads? These are people who have risen to prominence based upon little more than their ability to look good on camera and to sound natural reading from a teleprompter. These are a bunch of bloviating empty shirts, they aren’t academic, they aren’t subject matter experts in any sense of the words – they aren’t even real journalists for crying out loud! They’re journalisms equivalent of the loud, slightly inebriated divorced uncle that haunts the family Christmas party, diagnosing the world’s ills around the bean dip and prescribing what course of treatment he’d impose if only he were in charge of things before spilling his beer on the new carpet.
    Forgive me, but when I read that Jim Lehrer or anyone with all of the information publicly available four years ago could possibly have been of “unsettled convictions” about invading Iraq, I can only respond with contempt. Apparently, even four years into the worst strategic catastrophe in American history, Lehrer is still unsure of how things are going in Iraq! (I suspect he’s still mulling over whether “talkies” will catch on or are just a flash in the pan!) Iraq has gone bad and is highly unlikely to do anything other than get worse for the next decade or so and given the war’s origins in mindless notions of American exceptionalism, I highly doubt that the rest of the world will seek much solace in the bosom of American Idealism anytime soon – nor should they!
    Jim Lehrer only proves that just because it’s on PBS, doesn’t mean isn’t vapid.

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  24. rich says:

    Linda (@ 2:32 PM March 29) wrote:
    “I always believed, as a Democrat, that Clinton should have resigned in August, 1998, because his staying made it very likely that the Republican would win in 2000.”
    Hitching Dems’ political prospects to impeachment in general or Clinton’s handling of it is both an excuse and a fallacy.
    Al Gore didn’t sleep with Monica, nor did other Dem candidates. They ran their own campaigns. Further, Clinton’s popularity did not flag during impeachment proceedings that lacked real integrity. The public could see that. Resignation was both politically unsound and Constitutionally irresponsible, in that it would have set an extremely dangerous precedent.
    You’re buying into a meme that doesn’t withstand even minimal scrutiny. Accountability is popular. Impeachment WITH sound basis is not a political risk. Without it, the Repubs faced a just backlash.
    Don’t buy into the rhetorical excuses fostered by the pundits/ ‘journalists/ pols/ wise men–pilloried in this thread. For example:
    C&L debunks the bizarre idea that accountability will generate a political backlash. Not so:
    “Several pundits have declared . . instant conventional wisdom: Democrats on the Hill want to hold the administration accountable through oversight, but the public doesn’t care. Worse, if Dems kept it up, the outraged public would punish the party.” Nonsense, of course.
    http://tinyurl.com/37mnlo
    Click links to:
    75% of “Americans overwhelmingly support a congressional investigation into White House involvement in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, and they say President Bush and his aides should answer questions about it without invoking executive privilege.”
    The inverse was true of Clinton: the public knew impeachment w/o integrity was reckless and damaging. The Repubs paid as much a price, politically, as Clinton.
    Yet the games continue:
    TPM reporting right now–
    “Margaret Carlson on Bill Clinton: ‘Only Hillary thinks he has changed his ways.’
    Still substituting baseless gossip for hard news and political substance, Carlson’s feeding off Bill’s nearly decade-old political carcass.
    Zathras incorrectly said Carlson (& every other attendee at The Week Opinion Awards) would oppose any Republican administration. Yet here she is, shifting public discussion from Hillary’s policies to the personal arena.
    Clearly a service to Republicans. Upthread, I included Claire Shipman, Stephanopolous ( & Borger, Broder, John Harris) because they radically lowered the impeachment bar for Clinton–evading the Constitutional crux of the issue–and now turn around and display a double standard in refusing to touch Bush’s gross abuse of power–clearly impeachable given the low standard they eagerly hepled establish.
    The public (& polls) are clearly responding to the legal/Constitutional crux of the matter–not to the off-point talking points designed to shift the conversation to anything but the law.
    Sad to say, Josh at TPM & many otherwise astute observers (including Steve) have bought into the ‘impeachment is traumatic’ distortion. On the contrary, impeachment is a stabilizing, responsible force. It may be work. It may be disappointing the likes of Doyle McManus or Carlson or Zakaria–but their personal displeasure reflects neither the principle at stake, nor the public sentiment.

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  25. MP says:

    POA writes: “…is now trying to lump Hagel’s opinions on impeachment together with Conyers’, which is pure unadulterated BS.” I see your point, but I think the point here is that Hagel is a conservative Republican. That is, EVEN a conservative Republican is bringing up impeachment.

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  26. Pissed Off American says:

    This morning I woke up and am still blown away by Steve’s treatment of this Hagel thing. He fails to comment on Hagel’s recent vote on the AG issue, despite numerous posters bringing it up and querying him about it. He declines commenting on Hagel’s behaviour in regards to the ES&S matter. He completely sensationalizes Hagel’s tepid comment that happened to include the word “impeachment”, and is now trying to lump Hagel’s opinions on impeachment together with Conyers’, which is pure unadulterated BS.
    I think Steve’s credibility would be well served if he addressed ALL of Hagel’s history, instead of propping the man up with incomplete characterizations and the sensationalized treatment of Hagel’s mundane comment about impeachment. Until Steve addresses Hagel’s voting history, including the vote on the AG isuue, and until he is willing to engage us about serious questions about Hagel’s unethical and possibly illegal behaviour in the ES&S matter, Steve’s Hagel comments appear to be little more than typical dishonest and incomplete political marketing.

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  27. jonst says:

    Steve,
    You REALLY need to read the Daily Howler a bit more often.
    http://www.dailyhowler.com/

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  28. Brigitte N. says:

    I agree with those of you who are fed up with these celebrated pundits and columnists and anchors and correspondents who were part of the so-called media elite that failed to inform the American public fully in the aftermath of 9/11 and during the build-up to the Iraq war. It does not matter whether they were in favor of the war (like Friedman) or whether they were intimidated by the administration and its supporters and exercised self-censorship: They bear a great deal of responsibility for the “sorry state of American affairs affairs.”

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  29. bAkho says:

    The “time to go” moment only comes every 4 years. The Bush “time to go” moment was 2004. In 2004 Friedman was saying that the Iraq failure would turn around in 6 months. He whined about Bush social policies but refused to support Kerry.
    The next opportunity for “regime change at home” is 2008. Please note that ALL the announced Republican candidates (maybe except Brownback) support the Bush policy failure of continued, open-ended occupation of Iraq. ALL the Democratic candidates want to redeploy and disentangle from the Iraq failure. In our system, the President controls diplomacy. The president is commander in chief and sets military policy. We see how the will of the majority of Americans to end the failed Iraq occupation can be thwarted by an obstinate president. The only way the majority can institute their will on the Iraq failure is to replace the party that continues to support the failed policy. I know Steve is non-parisan. However the choice is clear. If you want the failed occupation of Iraq to continue, support and vote for the Republican candidate in 2008. If you want a change in policy, support and vote for the Democratic candidate. Can the choice be more clear?

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  30. marky says:

    The GOP tried to turn impeachment into a triviality by impeaching Clinton over almost nothing in 1998.
    Because of this example of their own making, Republicans now object to the spectre of a Bush impeachment, complaining about the over-politicized process–ha! The Democrats need to teach a lesson back at God’s Own Party in the following fashion: They need to impeach Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, and perhaps others; they need to convict Cheney on corruption and bribery charges and send him to prison for 25 years; and they need to send Bush to the Hague for trial on war crimes—that or simply try him for treason here.
    Oh that reminds me—GHWB needs to stand trial for treason in the October surprise matter. I don’t see how a reasonable person can think that negotiating with terrorirsts who were holding US hostages, agreeing to arm them after Reagans election on the condition that they held the hostages past election day, was anything other than the highest crime against this country.
    The GOP consistently commits the very highest crimes against the state—crimes for which they would call for execution of any Democrat—and thsen they impeach for nothing. No mercy for those 4th Reichers. Give them all the Nuremberg treatment.

    Reply

  31. liz says:

    Can I go now? No way. Bush and Cheney deserve impeachment. I do not understand why they get special treatment and special treatment means as Pelosi says ” impeachment is off the table”. Why are American citizens still trying to follow the law when the law clearly no longer applies in America. We are a country of a man. Democracy HAHAHAHAHAAAAA Republic HAHAHAHAHAHAHA monarchy… yep just like the butterfly…………
    time to go? NO it’s way past time to go.

    Reply

  32. mullah cimoc says:

    Mullah Cimoc say this friedman him maybe operative for mighty wurlitzer (google: mighty wurlitzer +cia).
    so important columnist but never right on anything about iraq war. him faker? him agent?
    how explain? him like william kristol him who magazine never making one single profit? just for make ameraiki stupid. him a mind control agent?

    Reply

  33. Pissed Off American says:

    When reading Steve’s essay on this gathering of our nation’s “best”, I couldn’t help noticing that he describes no anger being expressed by these elite well fed and manicured fops. Where are the expressions of a sense of being betrayed by our own government? Where are the expressions of anger for Abu Ghraib? For the lies that launched the present course of our nation? For the 650,000 dead Iraqis?
    If, God forbid, the Bush Administration should suddenly declare Martial Law, and state that the elections are suspended, the kind of people Steve describes would not be fighting side by side with us for the restoral of our Democracy. They would be jockeying for position, and demanding that Bush give them their place in the empire.

    Reply

  34. Pissed Off American says:

    “I do think that we should be considering when to deploy impeachment proceedings, and think that Conyers (and Hagel) are doing a national service by keeping the ‘possibility’ alive.”
    — Steve Clemons
    Good God Steve, you aren’t seriously implying that Hagel is or would consider impeachment are you? Based on that that bit of mouthing he did the other day?? What the hell is going on with you? Are you on this guy’s campaign staff or something?
    You are completely misrepresenting Hagel’s comment through insinuation. Lumping Hagel’s tepid use of the word “impeachment” in the same category as Conyers’ long running campaign to institute impeachment proceedings is intellectually dishonest. For God’s sake man, Hagel used the word, once, in one paragraph. And he certainly didn’t imply that he supported or advocated impeachment.
    I have wondered why you didn’t provide us with a direct quote of Hagel’s comment about “impeachment” when you originally raised the issue. Unfortunately the reason is becoming painfully clear. It is apparently your intention to misrepresent Hagel’s comment as having far more meaning and intent than it did.
    I apologize for being so blunt, but one cannot possibly put Hagel in the same category as Conyers on the impeachment issue. To attempt to do so, or to even imply such, is stretching the bonds of credibility far past their breaking point.
    Here is what Hagel said…
    “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends on how this goes,”
    Now, you wanna show me where in that paragraph where he says that he supports or advocates impeachment? Hagel has voted pro-Bush policy up until this latest Iraq resolution. And now he has finally voted anti-Bush policy on a resolution that is most assuredly going to be vetoed by Bush. Yet, because of that one time use of the word “impeachment”, all the sudden you are pushing this guy as being in the same league as Conyers on the impeachment issue???
    You gotta be kiddin’ me.

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  35. Tanner says:

    oh, … except for Tom Toles. (Hopefully he was just there getting new material for future mockery.)
    But especially Jim Lehrer.

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  36. Tanner says:

    Wow, what an embarrassing group of pathetic sad-sacks. It’s like one of the self-help groups in Fight Club, with Tucker Carlson crying into Tom Friedman’s lactating man-boobs. It’s like a gaseous evening of wisdom’s kryptonite. Still, I’m sorry to have missed it; If I’m lucky, Matt Taibbi was hiding under one of the tables and I’ll get to read about it later from his perspective.

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  37. DonS says:

    Watching Lehrer year after year — and then reading his really novelistic comments at some Marine celebration, which showed me a lot about his sentimentality — I usually find myself dismayed if not angry at his mush. He seems to gives liberals (e.g., Shields vs. Brooks) a harder time, as if covering for an embarrassing liberal thought in his own mind, while simultaneously seeming to explain the most banal factoid to the audience, as if PBS is watched by the typical “American Idol” viewer. Condescending and infuriating.
    I don’t know, maybe a new word has to be coined to capture the tenor he projects — Lehrererism or something — but the guy drives me bananas. Overall, he comes out foresquare for apple pie and motherhood — all the while “hmmmming” and “yeahhhhing” under his breath as if he is thinking something profound.

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  38. Eli Rabett says:

    Where is Ann Coulter and her NY Timesbomb when you need it.

    Reply

  39. rich says:

    Zathras,
    The point is not moot.
    Moreover, I disagree that “the vast majority of people, media figures and public officials had devoted little thought to foreign and national security affairs for a good ten years prior to 9/11.” Also, I am not referring to the immediate post-9/11 period when many “rallied to the administration”–though you overstate it. That reflex is natural–and lies outside the pattern I’m referring to–though it is no excuse.
    In no way do I conflate “honest journalism and moral rectitude with the promotion of one’s own views.” That would be, after all, a “sterile exercise.” Almost as sterile as bringing Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld on one’s program, and failing to ask questions based on widely available information about WMD evidence, Abu Ghraib, torture memos, etc., etc. Almost as sterile an exercise as believing Tom Friedman or the WashPost is/was opposed to any Republican administration when the evidence is otherwise.
    So–“One would be”–and I am on–“firmer ground making [precisely] the point that Lehrer and other media worthies” had plenty of evidence with which to challenge the Bush administration, on multiple issues. It’s why I wrote. You took a long lecture to arrive where I started.
    Zathras: “you should never expect the media to do for you more than your own political leaders will.”
    I expect them to report the news–& just as surely expect it should the tables be turned, & the Dems someday control the Exec & Leg branches. I’m more cynical than naive, but a press led around by politicians’ PR isn’t free.
    You invert the process: an event is not news because John Edwards has something to say about it. First an event is reported, then John Kerry and Dick Cheney can comment on it. IF they’re asked.
    You seem to’ve gone over into the philosophical realm. You’re really asking:
    –If a car-bomb goes off in Samarrah, and John Edwards is not around to comment on it, does it make any sound? Does it kill anyone?–
    Is that a fair summation of what Zathras believes constitutes the news the American people deserve to hear? Did that car-bomb have real consequences to American security & policy prospects, whether Edwards or Cheney said anything about it or not?
    The news deals with real-world events and how the Administration is handling them, regardless of who’s saying what (which is a different news story). Moreover, the vast majority of people in the county were raising serious questions all along. Does that not matter?
    Though news orgs take advertising revenue the way politicians take campaign contributions–compromising their news-gathering obligation to remain in favor–it doesn’t let them off the hook.
    It’s great to see you recognize the press is hardly adversarial. It undercuts your original claim The Week’s guests are somehow opposed to Republicans. The water-carrying for Bush/Cheney/Rove conducted by Judith Miller, Matt Cooper, Andrea Mitchell, Russert, Woodward certainly belies that claim. These are matters of war, peace, Constitutional integrity, and the blood of thousands of servicemen. It’s not too much to ask Margaret Carlson to cut the red-herring idle chatter and get down to brass tacks, nor is it too much to ask Jim Lehrer to ask tough, fact-based questions and raise a stink when he’s been lied to. They are not Democrats, nor are they objective or non-partisan. They’ve lost a lot of face.

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  40. Marky says:

    I’m sorry, but Tom Friedman is a thug, pure and simple. In the run-up to the war, he was an advocate of the naked use of force without regards to cassus belli. Specifically, he said that after 9/11, the US needed to attack an Arab nation—-ANY Arab nation—to show we meant business. Iraq was a convenient target, and Friedman had no objection.
    He explicitly endorsed the idea that we should attack Iraq to get even for 9/11. Like David Brooks, another seemingly reasonable pundit who has been even more slavishly pro-Bush, Friedman is a moral monster. Let’s not forget that Brooks (Nov/ 03 “A burden too heavy…”) both anticipated US war crimes and exhorted the public to support our troops no matter what atrocities they commit.
    The fact such voices hold sway in our public discourse is the real sign of moral decay. Forget the sexual orgies which the right wing holds up as proof of our degeneration; it is the gob-smocking orgies of self-satisfied pundits, glorying in their perceived ability to instigate mass murder in Iraq which expose the true emptiness at the heart of this country’s power structure.

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  41. gwelix says:

    Not a bad idea, actually.
    Some kind of national vote of no confidence.

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  42. Zathras says:

    Rich’s point just upthread is somewhat moot, since according to Steve a number of self-identified conservatives did attend this function and were not listed in the main post.
    However, two things: first, the immediate post-9/11 period was not what I think of as “most of the time.” A lot of people (including me) gave the administration the benefit of the doubt on many subjects that they would not have under normal circumstances. One can certainly argue that this was unwise, or worse, and has been shown to be so by subsequent events. The fact remains that in a country the vast majority of whose people, media figures and public officials had devoted little thought to foreign and national security affairs for a good ten years prior to 9/11 an equally vast majority rallied to the administration in power, as they would have under any President. If you’re going to condemn them all that is fine, as an intellectual exercise. Just don’t expect to get anywhere.
    The second thing, and I say this as a Republican who has listened to more than his share of complaints about media bias over the years, is that identifying honest journalism and moral rectitude with the promotion of one’s own views and attacks on the public officials one dislikes is a sterile exercise. I don’t doubt Rich’s sincerity in condemning Jim Lehrer for interviewing the Vice President and Secretary of Defense but — without making judgments about the quality of Lehrer’s questions (because I didn’t see the interviews) — the position in which such a condemnation leaves one is ridiculous. No one in Lehrer’s position could not interview the Vice President or Secretary of Defense. Everybody knows this, and everyone would also acknowledge that by bringing high government officials on television one is giving them a platform.
    One would be on firmer ground making the point that Lehrer and other media worthies had President Bush and Vice President Cheney on national television for a full six hours during the fall of 2004, in the campaign debates, and never raised the Abu Ghraib scandal even once. It isn’t that they didn’t make a speech about it, or condemn the administration; they didn’t even mention it, not even once.
    But then, neither did John Kerry or John Edwards. Now, both Democratic politicians were, and are, at least as “inside” as Tom Friedman (I understand Kerry even showed up at Steve’s party). I hold no brief for either, but would hesitate before describing Kerry or Edwards as “allied with establishment Republican power.” The point here is that you should never expect the media to do for you more than your own political leaders will; it does happen sometimes, but it’s not something you should ever count on, and complaining about this won’t get you anywhere either.

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  43. JM says:

    Den Valdron,
    Point taken…apologies.

    Reply

  44. rich says:

    Zathras,
    I wholly disagree that “except for Tucker Carlson, all of the people Steve names would be expected to oppose any Republican administration.”
    On the contrary, most-—including–
    Tom Friedman, Jim Lehrer, Chris Matthews, Ben Bradlee/WashPost, Margaret Carlson, Mickey Kaus, Matt Cooper, Michael Kinsley, Tucker Carlson, Claire Shipman, and George Stephanopolous
    all played a huge role in either a) strongly backing Bush; b) cheerleading the invasion of Iraq; c) facilitating the open dishonesty of Bush/Rumsfeld/neocons; d) maintaining the social niceties that preclude substantive action opposing Bush; and/or e) furiously maintaining the status quo by refusing to raise obvious issues about Bush’s policies.
    Several have distanced themselves since; several would claim objectivity or nonpartisanship; few can be said accurately to oppose George W. Bush-—or adequately do their jobs.
    When Jim Lehrer interviews Rumsfeld & Wolfowitz & Cheney-—but facilitates public acceptance & distribution of their dishonest statements, something’s very wrong. Many of Lehrer’s viewers possessed info that disproved Rumsfeld & Co.’s claims. Even George Stephanopolous presides over a show that shapes debate AWAY from grappling with accountability & the rule of law. Rarely is analysis or info presented that oppose Bush, dissent from Establishment boundaries, or get at the crux of the general malfeasance.
    Tom Friedman is a classic example. He’s a neocon through-and-through, and was with Bush all the way. Few if any took issue with Bush—and when they did, it was because denial was impossible and politically it was safe. These people are allied with establishment republican power(in some cases, self-identification as democrats doesn’t mean their work product was unbiased or liberal).
    The issue is not left/right, but inside/outside –or status quo/improvement. Most of these folks have actively aided and abetted the talking points, excuses, PR spin, or various rationales put forth by Bush. Much easier than citing facts or responding to public opinion.

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  45. Christian says:

    I’m sure he’s a nice enough fella, but I really find myself asking just what Tucker Carlson knows about anything serious, let alone international relations or the US body politic, compared to so many others.
    I’ll credit him with reporting about Bush making fun of a Death Row inmate.
    But really, I wish Josh Marshall, Steve, Laura Rozen, etc, were living in several million dollar Kent homes, and if reliable reporting and perspective were proportional to income, they would be rather than TV characters.

    Reply

  46. Linda says:

    Matthew asked one of the most interesting questions:
    “Does no one in Washington EVER pay the price for being wrong?”
    Once someone has become an “insider,” almost regardless of what they do that is wrong, there really are no consequences. It’s rather like getting tenure or being appointed to the federal judiciary–same for both parties. They get pardons like Iran-Contra folks and return in this administration. Or they go to a think tank or university or lobbying group or top management in corporate business world. I think what bothers most of us ordinary folks is that they all, good or bad, are comeback kids or never leave–senior statesmen and women for life. There are hundreds of examples.
    I am not afraid of impeachment, but articles of impeachment have only been passed by the House twice in our history and not very appropriately against Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither was convicted by the Senate. I always believed, as a Democrat, that Clinton should have resigned in August, 1998, because his staying made it very likely that the Republican would win in 2000. Nixon was not impeached and had the sense to resign before Articles of Impeachment even got introduced in the House because he knew that they would pass and that he would have been convicted by the Senate. So I am not afraid of impeachment, but just believe it should be a very rare thing. It does completely stall federal government for many months.

    Reply

  47. rich says:

    I liked “Chris Matthews asking the evening MC Sir Harold Evans ‘Why is this room 90% white?’ particularly the beyond-race observation “that beyond all other issues, the ‘biggest struggle is who we are.’ ” I’m glad he said it, b/c it’s accurate.
    So while it’s true “the San Andreas fault line in the country is race and ethnicity,” (for some demographic groups)–BOTH ‘blacks’ & ‘whites’ out there in AmericaLand are far ahead of the demographic trends read by Carlson. (I imagine him hunched over charts & graphs, monitoring race relations.)
    The emergent and greater “San Andreas fault line in the country” is the Insider/Outsider divide. Divide-n-Conquer along racial lines for reasons of power/control/money has been recognized since time immemorial. It’s easy to speak about race, in the abstract, in that room.
    I’d argue that Establishment Media is deaf to solutions from outsiders. THAT unwillingness is a huge source of American brittleness of power and lack of capacity. Throw-weights & troop readiness don’t matter if you’ve thrown the intrinsically American dialogue and the marketplace of ideas out the window.
    Consider: “Friedman admitted he was out of ideas. He didn’t know what to do.” Steve’s reported before that the intellectual wellspring of the high & mighty is exhausted. (I refer to the afternoon wine soiree.)
    Yet Friedman was full of ideas before we invaded and occupied Iraq. But he pointedly refused to listen to American citizens who had a better reading of the evidence, the need, and the principles at stake.
    Now, across America, solutions are generated on a daily basis. Whether calls for biofuels or high-speed rail or energy efficiency will be heard among the glitterati or on K Street is open to question.
    Impeachment is one such proposed solution—and I expect Tom Friedman, fresh out of ideas, to take it seriously. It has the imprimatur of our Founding Fathers, after all the shouting and dithering.
    So, I respectfully disagree with Linda. Your fearful view doesn’t jibe with the facts.
    Impeachment is not a trauma. We do not face the dilemma of Rice or Cheney as VP. Agnew went away for similar reasons–we take care of each cancer on the Presidency, one compromised figure at a time. The political consequences are few when impeachment is done for the right reasons.

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  48. David N says:

    Steve, this was an important post, if only in the way that it reveals so much of what’s wrong in the policy/intellectual/punditocracy/whatever that’s been doing such a good job screwing this country for the past fifty years.
    I agree with Carroll and Den that these people have their heads so far up their you-know-what that they couldn’t find their way out with a GPS.
    Examples:
    “Jim Lehrer said that prognosticators on the election were all going to be wrong. He said that this election was unprecedented and that there was no conventional wisdom to rely on.”
    — Here I go again, and even I’m getting tired of writing about this. The so-called “conventional wisdom” is often wrong, often damaging, and always misleading. It’s a substitute for thought that people use to sound profound when they haven’t a clue.
    “Ben Bradlee appealed to the audience to maintain faith in newspapers.”
    — I will, just as soon as I find it. Other than the treatment of wounded soldiers mess, which was abandoned in favor of either GonzoGate or the latest results from the Anna Nichole Smith case. (Side light: I couldn’t remember her name, so I Googled the News list for “Florida autopsy” and reports on here filled the first page of results. Case closed.) The fact is, newspapers — of which the Post is a prime example — have abandoned any pretense at judgement or insight, and treat issues of national security basically the same way they treat sports stories. Their capitulation to the corporate agenda of the far right, repeating the lying RNC talking points ad nauseum, gave us this pathetic president in the first place, and they deserve no respect until they earn it back by doing their jobs.
    “the San Andreas fault line in the country is race and ethnicity.”
    — Only among the pundits. Yes, there is still bigotry and hate and ignorance in this country, but I only have to go a half mile outside the Beltway, to my daughter’s high school in Fairfax county, to see how far ahead of these fossils the average teenager is in this country. Seeing the students elect a black young man and a blonde young woman for the Homecoming court (and the girl was the one wearing her football uniform!! (she was the place kicker)) was one thing. Being the only one there noticing that this was at all noteworthy was another.
    Finally, of course, the war. Or rather the invasion of Iraq.
    — I cannot be the greatest expert in the Middle East in this country or this government, based on my two years in SA and a couple more dealing with ME issues from Washington. But I knew, when I heard Bush say that our troops would be in Irag until “the security situation is stable,” that he had no intention of ever leaving the country. And that was in 2002!!! Because I knew that even if the invasion had been conducted with the minimal competance that this administration cannot muster, our troops would be welcomed at first, but seen by some, and then by more, as an occupying imperial, crusading army. As long as the U.S. army is in Iraq, it will be attacked. As long as it is attacked (regardless of the security situation for the average Iraqi, though we know that’s already bad), Bush can say the security situation is bad, and the forces have to stay.
    Finally, read the Petraeus handbook. Really read it. What it says is that pacifying an anti-insurgency will take hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of billions of dollars, and take decades. And leave the armed forces incapable of dealing with any other threats to our security in the meantime. And involve doing something other than shooting people, as well as being willing to kill people in job lots when needed.
    In other words, we won’t do it, and if we did, we would gain nothing.
    But we are all adults here, which I guess that lives and principles mean nothing. So let Junior play with our lives and jobs and safety. Because standing up for law and the country and the Constitution would be “extreme.”
    Yes, the impeachment process has been abused. By the Republicans, ten years ago. Just as they abused the justice system and have turned it into their own, personal sand box. Doing something to restore democracy and the rule of law would be extreme, as well.
    No wonder no one listens to us when we tell them how to run their county. They know better; they know we don’t.

    Reply

  49. Matthew says:

    Steve: Does anyone at these dinners ever dissent from the conventional thinking? In my little word, our World Affairs Council is exceptionally conventional. (Bad pun intended.) They were afraid to bring Jimmy Carter, for God’s sake.
    As many of the posters here indicate, re-thinking American policy means questioning our assumptions. From your post, it seems we asking the cheerleaders for advice–again. And are they any better informed than in 2003? The people who opposed the war in 2003 (Brent Snowcroft, General Zinni) ably articulated their views. Are they invited to these shindigs? On behalf of my fellow obscure Americans outside D.C., I have to ask: Does no one in Washington EVER pay the price for being wrong?

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  50. Steve Clemons says:

    Zathras — there were conservatives there. Just didn’t list them all. Mort Kondracke and Marguerite Sallee — who used to work for Lamar Alexander — were there…but there were genuine conservatives and should have spent more time listing them — like Tony Blankley, Joe De Rita (spelling?) and many others. But good points.
    Dan K — I underestand your point but disagree. I do think it is useful for the people in that dinner — who influence a great many of other people in America to hear them articulate how they see America’s problems today. The temperature of the room matters, at least in my view.
    The dinner was tasty — but I was more focused scribbling notes. The conversation, in my view, was better than the meal.
    Thanks for the comments.
    Steve

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  51. Steve Clemons says:

    Linda — interesting post. I think that Friedman’s comment was part theatrical, and part serious — but I’m not one who is confident that an impeachment track would be a serious course of action for the Congress worth the effort. I think that the Democratic mere toe-hold on the majority in the Senate makes impeachment highly unlikely.
    Just wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of what you propose — as I know many are so frustrated and angry with crimes committed by Cheney and company that they are strong advocates of impeachment ala John Conyers.
    But I have to be honest that I don’t see it happening — and so the idea of commissions to think through these dynamics in the future may be useful — but still seems to me to be outside of what will realistically occur.
    I have to say though that actually engaging in an impeachment process — which I think is unlikely — and fanning the flames of discussion are different. I do think that we should be considering when to deploy impeachment proceedings, and think that Conyers (and Hagel) are doing a national service by keeping the ‘possibility’ alive.
    — Steve Clemons

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  52. rich says:

    Yikes. We can skip the obvious critiques, as Steve noted that:
    >>”Despite the glitter, the powerful.. figures …and the high probability of a vapid evening — it was actually interesting and important.”
    So yeah, treat it as an explanatory window into ‘how things operate.’ A few points:
    –Has Kinsley really been good this year? Last I looked he was poo-pooing the US Attorney Purge (“Saturday Night Massacre”)–& clearly wholly unread on the details and principles involved, save for David Brooks’ distortion of the scandal.
    –Amazed by how heavily The Week’s awards have tilted towards the glitterati and/or already accepted figures. Their function has to be seen in that light. Connie Schultz merited consideration, among many others: http://www.cleveland.com/schultz/pulitzer/
    (Dislosure: bro-in-law Tommy Tomlinson won in ’04–I’d seen their reach as broader.)
    –Friedman’s quip has little meaning, upon closer examination. Says Tom, “WE need a new Constitutional Amendment called “Can I Go Now?” Something less than impeachment but more than resignation.”
    Vintage Friedman–missing the crux by blurring it & mis-stating attractive side-issues. Bush won’t go willingly–so “Can I?” is not an option. Bush is forcing the issue, so refusing to impeach is increasingly untenable.
    Friedman’s (& DC’s) big mistake here is that the Constitution is quite fine as written. Tom is being frivolous. Impeachment is not traumatic in the slightest–when not abused. It is THE legal avenue for redress of grievances and extremely beneficial in cleansing the body politic. “We” don’t need anything other than adherence to the Constitution. Viewing it as a nice idea, an advisory relic, is precisely what got us into this mess.
    –“Lehrer said that [our] interests should always drive our foreign policy but that didn’t mean rejecting efforts to promote democracy.”
    Our “interests” is traditional code for putting money ahead of getting on the right side of political conflicts abroad, respecting sovereignty, or any adherence to our internal political foundations. This has been the source of much grief–and only worked b/c overwhelming military might mitigated the consequences.
    America’s real politik interests are in getting on the right side of political, military, and moral causes abroad. All economic and military advantages will flow out of that. NOte that this does not ignore issues of raw power. But it is kinda why we threw out the British in 1776-. And applying that lesson in our own foreign policy will only pay untold dividends. But trust Lehrer to miss this.
    –“Ben Bradlee appealed to the audience to maintain faith in newspapers.”
    Faith has no place in the fourth estate. Trust is earned; the WashPost, despite having some great writers, has much to answer for. Such games must be renounced by figures like Bradlee. It’s a long list, and it won’t go away. It is revealing that Bradlee doesn’t grasp this or wouldn’t address it. But with Matt Cooper in the room, how could he?

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  53. Linda says:

    Dan,
    One has to read all of the link to Parenne article to get to the last line:
    “Oh, and the food was really damn good but we’re still pissed about the wine thing so we won’t even tell you about it.”
    And as all the above indicates, none of us were much impressed with these people’s opinions or “solutions” though they do have a lot of power to shape public opinion, I wouldn’t trust any of them as food critics. Unfortunately Johnny Apple is no longer with us. I would have trusted his opinion.

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  54. Dan Kervick says:

    At least based on your narrative, Steve, it doesn’t seem like anyone in attendance expressed any interesting ideas at all, or said anything one hasn’t heard a hundred times before. I suppose it might have been interesting to see how different figures in the punditocracy interact personally. But I suspect you could have received more enlightenment from curling up with a good book.
    There is something profoundly sad about the specatacle you descibe, Steve. Harkening back to your recent citation of Selley’s Ozymandius, I have the sense of gusts of insignificant hot air blowing across the American intellectual desert, and clay statues of inconsequential glamour crumbling away inside their evening wear.
    Was the food good at least?

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  55. Daveg says:

    Hey, american indians are basically rich now, with an exclusive right to run gambling establishments.
    How much more can you ask of us?
    The English so be so generous with the Irish.

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  56. Den Valdron says:

    JM, just because I note that Steve’s blog is a useful window into the thinking of Washington elites is not a suggestion on my part that I endorse the thinking of such elites.
    Indeed, my feeling is that these elites are so incestuously self absorbed that they are often out of touch with the real world or real developments. Certainly any gathering where a man like Friedman is being taken seriously is perhaps not the most on the ball conclave.
    Nevertheless, being out of tune and out of touch is not the same as being out of influence. This group has substantial influence in the media and in public discourse and policy formation… or they will have. Call them lotus eaters if you will, but they’re lotus eaters at the centre of the universe.
    It’s worth knowing what they’re up to.

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  57. Carroll says:

    One word on Friedman. It is impossible for me to describe how little respect I have for him. He is in short a point blank liar or propagandist, take your pick.
    I quit reading him several years ago when he did an article on the new WTO ruling on Egyptian free trade zones. I had just been reading about it on a WTO news alert along with several articles in the London and Egyptian press.
    There were riots and protest in Egypt because the new deal on imports of cotton into the US by the WTO changing of the trade free zones in Egypt threw some Egyptians out of work and caused huge resentment because it also required Egypt to use a % of Israelis goods and have to ship a portion of their goods thru a Israeli free trade zone since some of the Egyptian free trade zones had been closed down by this new move.
    While every newspaper in the world was describing the riots in Egypt as coming from dissafisfaction Freidman wrote a glowing column about the “celebrations” going on in Egypt at the opening of this “new trade opportunity” and how it was a sign of unity for Israel and Egypt.
    Several people called him on it but I never saw where Friedman responded. I guess the best thing to do when you have been proved a liar is ignore it and move on to lie about something else.

    Reply

  58. Ben says:

    FaceOnMars,
    The American notion of “history” has always surprised me, too – you live on land that was seized from its native inhabitants and then farmed by slaves. And this is 200 years ago – I’ve lived in houses that are older than your country.
    The idea that no reparations are due, that the native inhabitants are entitled to virtually nothing (especially in terms of sovereignty or even representation) has always sat uneasily with me.

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  59. FaceOnMars says:

    Slavery as the nation’s “original sin”?
    I believe Tucker might have been more accurate if he proposed that slavery was the sinful act of our nation’s “right hand”, while the simultaneous slaughter and subjugation of Native Americans was the sinful act of our “left hand”.
    … while the former might be on the road to recovery, the latter is STILL festering – for real.
    Although I live on sacred land (and feel somewhat hypocritical), I truly hope a (peaceful) uprising will occur and all tribes will band together in a unified voice for change.
    Either truly recognize the sovereign status of the various Indian Nations, or lets have due representation (@ least 2 Senators and the proportionate # of representatives).

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  60. Carroll says:

    Interesting tidbits from the inside crowd..but so many of them have been way behind the curve on Iraq and everything else for a long time.
    I don’t know about anyone else but I have given up paying any attention to the pundit class. I don’t even watch them on the so call news shows anymore because they seem like nothing but noise and they seem to mostly be talking about themselves among themselves. Really when you think about it they have become like soap opera stars. I think for most of us who use sites like this and other news sources, the pundits have no impact our own opinions…I don’t even see a use for them except as some kind of gossip entertainment.

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  61. MP says:

    I, too, was surprised that Lehrer had no opinion. He’s a thoughtful guy and a journalist. How is it possible that he had NO opinion about the war? Didn’t everyone else? I think he’s hiding behind PBS “neutrality” on this one.

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  62. Jim says:

    “If Iraq goes bad….”
    What year is Mr Lehrer in? I’m in 2007.
    Tom Friedman was for the war. Jim Lehrer said he had had no opinion. Claire Shipman was undecided. Tucker Carlson said he opposed the war — and then was lobbied extensively and sold a bill of goods by the administration and supported the war, which he regrets.
    I am loathe to give either one of them credit for anything, but at least Friedman and Carlson were honest, and I remember Carlson saying similar things before the ’04 election, IIRC. I don’t know what to make of Jim Lehrer. That is a shocking and shameful statement. My opinion of Claire Shipman remains unchanged: As a journalist and a commentator, she was surely the loveliest member of that panel.

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  63. JM says:

    “[despite] the high probability of a vapid evening — it was actually interesting and important.”
    Hmmm…my take is probably somewhere between david’s and Den’s above. I realize that Steve is simply providing highlighted quotes and a summary of an extended set of discussions, but I saw nothing in Steve’s post that led me to believe that the attendees said much of anything “interesting and important,” much less innovative or reflective of the fact that the folks in attendance at at the center of “the debate.”

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  64. Zathras says:

    Perhaps Steve’s list of attendees at this soiree’ reflected only the people he could see on the podium or sitting next to him, but it didn’t sound much like a group from “across the political spectrum.” Except for Tucker Carlson, all of the people Steve names would be expected to oppose any Republican administration most of the time.
    This is only an observation, not a criticism. My understanding of the way Washington has always worked is that if you’re a player in government, the media or in the lobbying world and you want to get invited to affairs like this, you can. Much of this President’s appeal to his conservative base, though, is based on the absolute lowest common denominator among conservatives and especially Southern conservatives — hostility to liberals and the media, two groups that are assumed to be pretty much the same thing. Among the people in Washington most closely committed to the administration (that is, Republican members of Congress and their staff, some commentators and political consultants in addition to Bush administration officials) attendance at an event just about crawling with liberals and media types would be considered highly suspicious, a kind of consort with the enemy.
    You don’t have to look hard to find the example they are following. President Reagan in his time set a different example. As I say, Steve’s narrative may convey a false impression that this group was mostly a conservative-free zone, but if it was it was most likely because conservatives in Washington prefer things that way.

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  65. Den Valdron says:

    I dunno David. It’s a good window into who these people are and how they think. Steve does us a service in this respect.

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  66. david says:

    Reading your account is absolutely surreal. Every person you mention has been an accomplice to the Bush administration’s total incompetence in EVERY area of governance. And, these people talk like “it” has been done to them. Where was (is) the investigative jounralism; where was (is) the critical thinking. Chris Matthews had an orgasm watching Bush land on the aircraft carrier. Tom Friedman even has a war term named after him (the “Friedman unit” as in “give it six months and everything will be fine”).
    Steve, I’m beginning to think that your critical thinking abilities are waning as well the way you slobbered this description of these “cynical” people’s love fest!

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  67. JohnH says:

    Meanwhile King Abdullah called the American occupation illegal.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/29/world/middleeast/29saudi.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
    And Iran was invited to attend the Arab League conference after Qaddafi indicated he wouldn’t attend if Iran wasn’t invited. The emphasis is on solidarity. American influence is clearly waning. Like Latin America, ME nations will increasingly put their own needs before America’s, which frankly means that the industrialized world may not get as much oil as they feel entitled to.

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  68. Linda says:

    First, Steve, do you know if C-Span or any media covered the formal part of the event? It sounds a lot more amusing than the TV and Radio correspondents dinner that has been running on C-Span this week.
    I assume Friedman was only being amusing but not serious as his suggestion would change our form of government to quasi-Parliamentary. There are a number of areas where the Bush Administration raises issues of loopholes in our current situation, Neal Katyal’s op-ed on special prosecutors in yesterday’s NY Times.
    The options available really do mean that impeachment, as much as most of us believe that impeachable offenses have occurred, really is not an option. Wish Cheney gone, and it is likely that Bush would choose Condi as VP. It would be very disruptive (as it was with Clinton) to try to impeach both President and VP. Impeach only Bush, and one gets Cheney as President.
    One option, and I am not sure that I totally believe in it, is to be patient and take a long view that the pendulum swings too far one way and then swings back. Another might be to hope that the next President, most likely a Democrat, might either by Executive Order or in cooperation with Congress, appoint and fund a high-level Commission to get the best minds in the country looking at these issues.

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  69. eCAHNomics says:

    “Friedman admitted he was out of ideas. He didn’t know what to do.”
    I’ve always said that, at best, Friedman has a mediocre command of the obvious. Above is just the latest example. He’s been out of ideas ever since his first book.

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  70. Matthew says:

    Steve: The Washington Pundit-ocracy are the ones primarily the ones worried about America having too little power. Without the American Navy trolling the seas, who is going to listen to Thomas Friedman extol the wonders of Bangalore? Maybe we can off-shore our pundits?
    As Dubya’s recent foray in Latin America proved, American power is dreaded in many places, not embraced.

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  71. Chad says:

    After Iraq, what the world needs most is a break from America’s assertiveness and self proclaimed values. Question is will America give it to them or will they take it for themselves?

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  72. Ben says:

    ‘Jim Lehrer countered saying that “If Iraq goes bad, the world will need the idealism of the U.S.” ‘
    *If* Iraq goes bad? IF?
    Maybe he should take a stroll through Baghdad with the Maverick Straight Talker [tm], and then let us all know exactly how Iraq can, at this point, ‘go’ bad?

    Reply

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