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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Day One of the First Hundred Starts in DC

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

This is the right thing to say. But now it's time to make it the right thing to do. The first step in a democratically controlled House is the necessity to remove powerful "K"- Street-type lobbyists which controlled the brains of the soon-to-be former party in charge. And it has already started with the jailing of Uber-Lobbyist Jack Abramoff and many who benefited from his deeds and dollars.

Gone are the "Duke" Cunninghams (REPUBLICAN-CA); the Bob Neys (REPUBLICAN-OH) and especially the Tom DeLays (REPUBLICAN-TX). The next stop is to ask the hard questions of those who oppose good legislation for no apparent good reason. The next member of congress who stands in the way of progress for profits will need to answer the question "Why?" And it better not matter if the next real obstructionist is a REPUBLICAN or a DEMOCRAT.

It will start with a REAL, bi-partisan ethics committee, the likes of which we haven't seen since 1994, coincidentally, when the GOP took over. It ends when each and every member of the House, Senate and Executive branch pay ore attention to duty than to profit.

-Noah Greenberg

More Snow
From Yesterday's Press Conference

QUESTION: Tony, South Korea turned us down, turned down a request that they do more to help intercept ships that are headed for North Korea with possible arms on them, or nuclear supplies. What's our reaction to that?

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TONY SNOW: Well, I don't think we have a -- the reaction is we are working with all parties in the six-party talks.

There we have it in a nutshell, but Snow caught himself just as he was going to tell the truth: "We have no reaction." When you have nothing to gain, why sau anything at all? Just bring out the same old rhetoric of "six party talks", avoid the question and get out of there as fast as you can (unless there's a male prostitute hanging around with queue cards, that is).

QUESTION: Is South Korea doing enough?

SNOW: I'm not going to sit here and second-guess the South Koreans.

Which would make the South Koreans the ONLY ones he wouldn't second guess. After all, this is an administration that sticks so whole-heartily to their guns that they can't even second guess themselves.

QUESTION: So when Carl Levin (Democratic Senator from Michigan) says "four to six months," I'd like to see troops start coming home?
SNOW: I think what you need to do is to ask Democratic leaders who are now grappling with the fact that they're going to have real responsibilities.

Oh, I get it. NOW he has an opinion.

SNOW: The strategy for victory is working...

Victory as a strategy. How does this guy do it? Imagine this press conference from an NFL coach:
QUESTION: What is your game plan, Coach?
COACH: We have a strategy for victory.
QUESTION: But what is that strategy?
COACH: To win.
QUESTION: But how are you going to win?
COACH: By using our strategy for victory!

You gotta just cringe when Snow says stuff like that.

SNOW: ...there are more than -- there are a whole series of Democratic proposals. I think before you start getting into the position of trying to get me to respond, you probably need to get the Democrats, those doing the speaking, to fix on what they think the proper counterproposal, if there is one.

Wait a second here. Didn't Snow say that the Democrats have no ideas? Now he's saying that they have lots of them, not the least of which is a phased troop withdrawal which would bring home the troops in stages, providing that certain benchmarks are met by the Iraqi government. Sounds like a real idea to me.

DAVID GREGORY (NBC NEWS): There's a serious idea on the table. It's not just Carl Levin's, it is others within the Democratic Party. It is a serious idea. It's one that presumably the Iraq Study Group is studying, and that is the notion of a phased withdrawal with some benchmarks. Is the President opposed to that, or supportive of that?

SNOW: Like I said, as I said -- what are the benchmarks?

Now Snow is trying to get David Gregory, a reporter, to come up with HIS plan for Iraqi troop withdrawal. Every time this guy speaks I'm reminded of the Martin Short character on Saturday Night Live's parody of 60 Minutes: "What's surprises me is that you don't know what I know you don't know."

And then, during Gregory actually attempting to get any information out of Snow, the press secretary begins to snicker.

GREGORY: - oh, you can laugh. I mean, I don't know how many people in the public think that's a funny idea.

Which was followed up by this exchange:

GREGORY: The point is this is a serious point, and you either have a position, or you don't. Is the position of the President that he has no position on it?

SNOW: No, the position is -- as I think I succeeded in making the point when I asked you what the benchmarks were and you said you didn't know. You give me a proposal that's got something to react to.

Snow is the single most capable person to be the mouthpiece of the Bush administration. He sisn't have to "buy into" the whole White House shpeil. He was already there. But this last statement was actually my favorite. By saying "I think I succeeded", he was putting the onus on Gregory to prove that he didn't succeed.

One really gets the gist of the White House when reading, instead of watching, White House press briefings. But read at your own risk. It can be painful.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg