Sunday, August 26, 2007

John Warner on Meet the Press

Tim Russert treated Sen. John Warner like a hostile witness on Meet the Press this morning.

Poor Russert.

He expected Warner to slam the Bush administration, but Warner didn't cooperate.

Russert was clearly hoping that Warner would bash President Bush and break ranks with the White House on Iraq policy, demanding a timetable for troop withdrawal.

Russert wanted to hear Warner threaten Bush.

Warner didn't deliver.

Last week, Warner made headlines with his proposal that Bush should withdraw about 5,000 troops from Iraq by Christmas.

Naturally, the lib media started salivating, with screaming headlines that a high-ranking, well-respected Republican senator had abandoned Bush.

Listeing to Warner talk this morning, I got a very different impression.

He said that he threw the idea out there. He referred to it as "just one idea." Warner welcomed others to throw ideas out there as well.

He definitely seemed to be trying to smooth things over with the White House.

Russert grew more impatient as the interview continued.

Russert tried to put words in Warner's mouth. He desperately wanted Warner to throw President Bush under the bus.

Russert seemed to be looking for Warner to deliver an explosive remark, fishing for something that would make headlines. It didn't happen.

Warner praised the troops and the military leaders in Iraq. He saved his criticism for Maliki.

It really ticked Russert off when Warner said that he fully supports the President's view that Iraq and the region is vital to our security.

Russert countered that nearly 4000 Americans have died in the war. He asked, "Do we not have a right and obligation" to put timetables on the Iraqi government?

Much to Russert's dismay, Warner said that he wanted the President to make those decisions, not the Congress.

Russert continued to press. He gave Warner a scenario: If the president goes forward with the surge, what do you do?

Warner said that he'd respect that, explaining that his idea of a troop withdrawal is intended to be a message to Iraq to jump start their government.

It was clear that Russert was hoping Warner would lash out at Bush.

He refused.

Warner doesn't want Congress to set a timetable. He wants Bush to make that decision.

Russert kept pushing and prodding, wanting to know that if Bush doesn't set a timetable, will Warner do it?

Again, Warner said that it's Bush's decision.

Russert asked the question over and over again, as if rephrasing it would get Warner to change his answer.

Warner argued that Congress setting a withdrawal timetable is not a wise way to approach the matter.

He believed that it's necessary to wait to hear what Bush has to say after reviewing the reports on the surge.

Russert still wasn't satisfied. He asked Warner if Bush wants to maintain the status quo, will Republicans abandon him?

Warner seemed to have had enough. He appeared to not want to get into guessing games about what Congress might do. He argued that the decision on troop withdrawal ideally should come from the President

Warner made clear that he wasn't threatening the President with his proposal.

In fact, Warner defended Bush. While attack dog Russert was going for Bush's jugular, Warner told of spending Memorial Day with the President and Mrs. Bush. He said that no one wants the troops to come home more than Bush. He spoke of how heavily the deaths of American troops weigh on him.

Although Warner didn't back off his idea of withdrawing 5,000 troops by Christmas, he downplayed it, choosing not to take an adversarial stance against Bush.

It seemed like a very frustrating way for Russert to begin his Sunday.


Over on FOX News Sunday, Chris Wallace slammed the despicable Bill Moyers over his comments about Karl Rove's alleged agnosticism and his charges that Wallace failed to "do his homework."

When Rove was interviewed by Wallace last Sunday, Rove denied Moyers' assertion that he was agnostic. Rove said, "Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander."

Moyers flipped out. In an attempt to defend himself, Moyers sent a letter to FOX addressed to Wallace. He also posted it on his website.

In his criticism of Wallace, Moyers writes:

Obviously Rove wanted to blow smoke because his version of reality is undermined by his own previous statements and by the reporting and analysis of journalists who have done their homework and don't take his every word as gospel – no pun intended.

Wallace was not about to let Moyers' jabs go unanswered.

Now it's Moyers' turn to return fire in the feud over Rove's professed religious beliefs and journalistic standards.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Might have to watch the MSNBC rebroadcast of Meet the Press. Thanks for delivering your commentary on it. Russert's good, but I wish he could see his own bias. In Bernard Goldberg's book "Arrogance", Tim Russert talks about it. I wish he'd go read his own interview with Goldberg.

The bias can be specific to a single issue, not necessarily in all his interviews; but if Russert isn't vigilant, as seems the case in so many instances during the Bush Administration, his partisan feelings will always show through.

Pointing out that Russert can be tough on Democrats too, isn't proof that Russert isn't above bias creeping into his interviews.

I think Warner needs to be careful of the double edge sword he carries when he talks of wanting to nudge the Iraqi government. He may just push some over to abandoning the Iraqi government and democratization if they perceive that we ourselves will be abandoning them.

Mary said...

Pointing out that Russert can be tough on Democrats too, isn't proof that Russert isn't above bias creeping into his interviews.

So true.