Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Was Rachael Thinking

On Sunday, ABC-TV reporter Jonathon Karl nailed former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Karl asked Cheney to explain why he scolds the Obama administration for trying terrorists in federal courts while the Bush administration did the very same thing with shoe bomber Richard Reid and at least 112 other suspected terrorists.

CHENEY:  Well, we didn‘t all agree with that.  We had, I can remember, a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the west wing of the White House, where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled, between the Justice Department that advocated that approach and many of the rest of us who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions.  We never thoroughly or totally resolved those issues.  These are tough questions, no doubt about it. 

And on Monday, Keith Olbermann on his MSNBC Countdown show, hammered more nails into the Cheney coffin. After playing more clips of the ABC interview, Olbermann connected his own dots and concluded Cheney's high profile lambasting of Obama policies was the former vice president's personal views and not those placed in practice by the Bushies.

And, oif course, Cheney's views are those expressed by the neo-cons within the Bush administration. They lost but Cheney is pushing that agenda as if it were Custer's last stand. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Rather than continue that thread which is the only real news coming out of the weekend talk show circuit, Rachael Maddow who follows Olbermann on the MSNBC nightly stable, completely ignored it.

After playing most of the same clips of the ABC interview as Olbermann did, she told listeners:

You could have put him into military custody, but you did not. The Republican effort to attack President Obama on the basis of the underpants bomber, unlike the underpants bomb itself, appears to be blowing up.  Say what you will about Dick Cheney, he‘s generally pretty skilled at making political attacks out of national security issues, but this time, on this one, even he is all tied up in knots.

At  that point, I began yelling at the television set.


Now, I like most of Rachael Maddow's work. Her innate intelligence as a Rhodes Scholar is reflected in her reportage.

More clips:

KARL:  So, was it a mistake when your administration took on the Richard Reid case?
CHENEY:  Well, we could have put him into military custody.  I don‘t -- I don‘t question that.
MADDOW:  Yes, but you didn‘t. You didn‘t. You could have and you didn‘t. The attempted Republican talking point on the underpants bomber is that it‘s an outrage that this would-be bomber was read his Miranda rights and treated as a criminal.

 Now, here Rachael redeems herself by showing clips of the Republican echo machine:

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA:  And is reading Miranda rights to terrorists any way to fight a war?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, UTAH:  Some of us have been so upset about it that they immunized him with the Miranda rule.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  You do not—you do not go in and interrupt it with Miranda warnings.
REP. PETER KING, NEW YORK:  We don‘t have to give Miranda warnings up-front.
SEN. KIT BOND, MISSOURI:  Mirandizing a terrorist like Abdulmutallab is absolutely ridiculous.
I don‘t know what purpose there was in mirandizing him.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER:  The administration seems to have lost sight of this essential requirement for national security out of a preoccupation, a preoccupation, with reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, MINNESOTA:  He should not have been given his Miranda warnings.  This should not have been a mirandized situation.  You don‘t mirandize!

Oh, but we do. By the way, two of the three terrorists tried by military commissions are roaming free while all tried in our federal system remain behind bars.

I have no horse in this mirandizing debacle. But the preponderance of evidence most definitely is scaled in favor of federal court prosecutions.

Maddow is at her best making a case against Republican hypocrisy. Cheney is a different story. She blew it. He's in it for himself. Period. More proof from Olbermann. Roll  the clip:

CHENEY:  I won some, I lost some.  I can‘t—
KARL:  I mean, waterboarding, clearly, what was your—
CHENEY:  I was a big supporter of waterboarding.  I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques.
KARL:  And you opposed the administration‘s actions of doing away with waterboarding?

Olbermann insisted Cheney's admission of water boarding implies he's an international war criminal. That's a little rich.

He then interviewed Lawrence O'Donnell, a Huffington Post columnist, MSNBC fill-in and former Senate committee adviser. Roll the tape:

O‘DONNELL:  It was really quite striking.  And it‘s (waterboarding) been underplayed, I think, because of the way he treated it so routinely—and just made it seem like something that‘s perfectly reasonable, perfectly reasonable position to take, perfectly reasonable admission to make at this point in this story.

But I think one of—the overall impression of the interview so far, if you listen to George Will and the comment across the political spectrum from the most reasonable of those commentators, is that Cheney demonstrated that everything he‘s criticizing President Obama for is an extension of policy that already existed in the Cheney White House and that these were lost battles within the Cheney White House.  That he lost the battle there is and he wants to continue to fight them against the Obama/Biden White House.
OLBERMANN:  Citing this idea that he expanded this backwards a little bit to reveal the unfortunately phrased “shootout” in the White House between himself and unnamed others, am I wrong about the tone that—whatever else he lacks, and I would say he lacks a grasp of reality, Mr. Cheney has never lacked certitude.  Did this seem a little more defensive to you than the previous explosions on the subject?
O‘DONNELL:  Well, I think when he‘s in adult company, outside of FOX News, he actually has to adopt a different style, and I think he knows that.  And I think he knows when that panel is going to follow him, as they did on ABC News and analyze everything he has to say, he has to stay a little bit closer to the base.  A little bit closer to reality.

As George Bush was prone to do, I have for years pinned the name of Darth Vader on Cheney.

I don't believe he is an evil man. I just disagree with his policies in pursuing our enemies. And, in that regard, I am happy his true colors have been exposed.

I shutter to think if he had won that battle in the White House. If nothing else, it did not have a legal leg to stand on.

So the next time, you hear him impugn the Obama administration, keep one thing in mind. He's grinding his own ax and the echo chamber of Republicans following his trail are zombies.

Here's how Rachael Maddow ended her segment on Cheney, still flailing away that he is the voice of the Bush administration, which he isn't:

Only now, the Bush administration in exile would have you believe that what they did all those years was a huge mistake. The mistakenness of which only became apparent when some other president did it, someone who‘s a Democrat.

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