Sharpton Enters the Russert PrimaryThe Rev. Al Sharpton finally got his Meet the Press interview Sunday, a part of the “Tim Russert Primary” phenomena.
Russert had, in previous weeks, interviewed a host of potential contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, introducing them to viewers and gently probing their strengths and weaknesses.
In a burst of honesty, Russert introduced his Sharpton interview with the admission that the flamboyant New Yorker was outpolling many prominent Democrat officeholders who have preceded him on the show.
And, at the end of an interview that was almost exclusively a look at the Reverend’s controversial past, Sharpton expressed the hope that he would get a chance to appear on the show again, to discuss “Healthcare, voting, the issues.”
“We did both, issues and character,” snapped Russert.
In between, Sharpton declared, “Where I am, many Americans are, and most Democrats are.” That area apparently includes support for Louis Farrakan’s comment that Saddam Hussein is no more terrible than President Bush.
Sharpton did separate himself from Farrakan’s call for a “Nuremberg Trial” of American presidents. “We don’t have to go to Nuremberg, we have to go to Florida.”
In a comforting declaration, Sharpton assured Russert, “I am not an anti-semite.”
Elsewhere on the weekend shows, pundits cast about for controversies. Last week’s furor over Brent Scowcroft’s op-ed arguing against invading Iraq was replaced by controversy over former Secretary of State James Baker’s New York Times op-ed arguing, with caveats, for an invasion. George Will, on This Week, believes Baker’s piece complicates Bush’s plans for “preventative war” because of his calls for a UN resolution.
Fox News Sunday gave prominent play to the hawkish side of the Iraq debate by interviewing Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas. DeLay had given a forceful speech supporting the President if he decides to invade Iraq. DeLay said the White House did not write his speech and that they were only shown it “hours” before he delivered it.
Elsewhere, the pundits cast about for controversies to fit in short segments. MTP interviewed the UN weapons inspector, Fox did a piece on the Wall Street Journal’s criticism of the New York Times, and This Week gave Bill Gertz’s new book on intelligence failures, “Breakdown,” a plug. This Week’s roundtable also discussed another sign of the apocolypse: the arrest of a mother at the Jefferson County, Ohio Fair because her children were sunburned.
Bill Gertz Blockbuster Revelation
In my book, I found a huge bureaucratic resistance to reform.
And You Think Our Bureaucrats Are Bad
I think you're going to see an older pope next time out. Many figures in the curia are very upset with the length of this pontificate. You know, this man's been dragging them all over the world for 23 years. And he's internationalized the pontificate and taken it outside of Rome, and therefore out of the control of the bureaucrats there at the Vatican. -- Raymond Arroyo, news director and lead anchor for the EWTN, the international Catholic network, on Capital Gang
Syndicated conservative columnist Michelle Malkin replaced David Brooks on The News Hour. Paired with Mark Shields veteran replacement Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe, she was unimpressive. Evelyn Hernandez of El Diario La Prensa, with all the passion of a telephone operator, appeared on This Week’s roundtable.
A Ringing Defense
Seymour Topping, former Managing Editor of the NYT, answered charges that the paper of record misrepresented Henry Kissinger’s position:
Not a deliberate effort to take a biased position. It might be sloppy journalism.
A Bill Clinton Talk Show?
From the Fox panel:
I don’t see that he has the inclination or discipline to be there every day. –Juan Williams
He won’t do it because he wants Mrs. Clinton to be president. –Bill Kristol
He’s a man who sees the presidency as a steppingstone to be the next Rosie. –Charles Krauthammer
The Wit and Wisdom of George Will
On the Iraq debate: We have to listen with a third ear and hear what we don’t hear.
On the Ohio sunburn case: This is a society that considers sin a superstition and virtue a matter of opinion.
Capital Gang Imitates the The Refuge
This exchange mirrored earlier discussions in the QP readers’ forum about non-veterans advocating war:
Mark Shields: And he's chosen as his surrogates -- if in fact he chose Tom DeLay -- the most inappropriate of all advocates. I mean, there are -- you pointed out, Chuck Hagel was mentioned, John McCain is a strong supporter of this war. To this day the administration, to the best of my knowledge, has not talked to him about speaking on behalf of it, so they're left to have as their spokesmen people who, quite frankly, evaded military service themselves and have no standing...
Richard Perle or Ken Adelman, the people who are speaking for the harshest and most hawkish policies are not, are men and women in uniform, or those who've worn the uniform, who know the tragedy of battle.
Kate O’Beirne: I would be the first to support the proposition, if it would make Mark happy, to have only active duty military members and veterans vote on whether or not we go to war. He might not be that happy with the results, nor would Bob Novak be. The system happens to be the executive branch, the president's plenary powers, and Congress, whose represent -- whose constituents give them a responsibility, whether or not they've served themselves, Mark.
The Cokie Roberts Post-Mortem
Cynthia McKinney is a firebrand. It’s good to have some firebrands in Congress, but she was alienating her own constituency.
The Cure for Overheated Reporting
Asked if the investigation of Senate leaks would have a “chilling” effect on the press, Charles Krauthammer replied, “I think a well-chilled press is a good idea.” He opposes the investigation on separation of power grounds.
Quip of the Week
Asked about presidential “working vacations,” Tom Oliphant noted, “Some people would say 'working journalists' is a contradiction too.”