...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Rummy bitch-slaps Russert

I try to begin my Sunday mornings in deference to this helpful reminder from NBC-TV, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press." Today's guest was Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. In the past, Mister Rumsfeld has taken quite a bit of unfair attack from the MSM in general and from Russert in specific. Many pundits, myself included, have noted that Rummy has a style that has very little patience for the liberal bias spin of the MSM. He often rails at stupid questions and idiotic assumptions. If you hear Rummy say, "My goodness," you know you've hit one of his buttons.
But I noted today that Rummy's style is a bit toned down now and he seems to be free and easy with the concept of leveraging Russert secure in the knowledge that the general public knows full well that Russert's questions are spin. Now that Iraqis have achieved a first in a string of coming free elections, Russert tries to spin the view that those elections are an empty cause of celebration for American interests as the Shiites have done well in that election. He does so by citing the leading left-wing liberal biased spin rag of them all, The New York Times.

Rumsfeld managed a wry twinkle in his eye and the faintest upward curl of his lip as Russert tried to bruise the election outcome;

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: The first thing we have to begin with is that Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. And the Iraqis are going to have a solution for Iraq that's Iraqi solution. They're not going to have an American solution or an Afghan solution. And the wonderful thing that's taking place is that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. And we're seeing it in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Palestinian Liberation Authority, in the Ukraine, in Indonesia, and what's happening is healthy. It's good.
Look at our Constitution when it was first fashioned. Look what it did with respect to women not voting. Look what it did with respect to blacks and the way they were counted in the population. So you don't get from where they were to where they're going on a feather bed, as Thomas Jefferson said. You get there through tough discussion, trials, error, mistakes, good things, and they're on that path. And I think people ought to step back and say, "Isn't that amazing? Isn't that a wonderful thing for that region?"

In all fairness, Russert's job as a television "journalist" (at least, as television hacks see it) is to bring out the conflicts of ideas and politics and governmental policies. That's what oils their wheels, keeps viewers tuned in and brings home their bacon. As I see it, the point of Tim Russert's job is not so much to bring the facts and information to NBC's viewers as it is to try and cause his guests to stumble and make some sort of diplomatic blunder in their fielding of his inane line of questioning. He did the very same thing with Senator Edward Kennedy during the second half of the show. Does that mean that Meet The Press is fair and balanced? Not when you consider that the Main Stream Media as a whole follows the beck and call of the New York Times. It's all one big liberal biased umbrella (with the exception of FoxNews). And Rummy knows it and the American people know it. And Rummy is beginning to artfully play that hand. Good for him.

To whit;

MR. RUSSERT: One of the Iraqis said this--he's the head of the Constitutional Monarchy Party: "Americans are in for a shock," adding that one day they would realize, "We've got 150,000 troops here protecting a country that's extremely friendly to Iran."

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You know, I could go to the press, and I could pull out a quote on almost any side of every issue. And your question is: What do I think about that particular quote? First of all, I don't think it's representative. Second, I'm always amazed at the things that can happen in the world, and I don't doubt for a minute that there are going to be some surprises for everybody. Third, let's face it, Afghanistan has Iran as a neighbor, and they talk to each other. Most countries do talk to their neighbors. And that's a very different thing from suggesting that the model that Iran has is necessarily going to be the model for Iraq. I don't believe it is. I think the Shia in Iraq are Iraqis first and Shia second. And just as in Afghanistan, you don't see Mr. Karzai fashioning a government that's a replica of one of his neighbors. He's got an Afghan solution to his problems.

Here is an idiotic question Russert put to the Secretary that would have elicited a "My goodness" from Rummy:

MR. RUSSERT: Why not give the Iraqis benchmarks that "In six months, we're going to withdraw 50,000 troops. You better have 50,000 troops ready to replace them"?

Instead, Rummy calmly explained the obvious to any viewer or listener with half a brain on their shoulders instead of a cabbage like Russert has;

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Because we've been--our country has invested a lot of lives, a lot of heartbreak. The courage of our troops and the sacrifice of those that have fallen and were wounded is important. And the idea that you should just arbitrarily say this is going to happen on that date--think of it, the last administration did that in Bosnia. They said we'd be out by Christmas. Six, eight, 10 years later, not out. It is misleading people to think that you know something you don't know. And we know we don't know.

The show continued with this absurd line of questions that are clearly designed to make Rumsfeld squirm, but really only demonstrated how useless the MSM can be. What a waste of time Russert's questions are, when you consider how useful more intelligent questions would be concerning the methodology of training for Iraqi forces or other questions that could be put forward. Instead, Russert is obsessed with his game of "Gotcha".

Then, there is this priceless piece of challenge from Rummy to Russert's spin;

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, I understand. Some things that members of Congress has said. This is Susan Collins, a Republican--not a Democrat, Republican: "I think there are increasing concerns about [Secretary Rumsfeld's] leadership of the war, the repeated failures to predict the strengths of the insurgency, the lack of essential safety equipment for our troops, the reluctance to expand the number of troops."
I want to talk--we've talked about insurgency. I want to bring you back to the whole debate about the use of essential safety equipment for our troops and take you back to December--we haven't seen you since then--when Thomas Wilson stood up and asked you a question. I want to show you that exchange and come back and talk about it.
(Videotape, December 8, 2004):
SPC. THOMAS WILSON: Now, why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up.
(End videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Specialist Wilson did acknowledge he worked with a journalist in crafting that question.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Yeah, but wait a minute. Let me get into this a little bit.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That was unfair and it was selectively taking out two sentences from a long exchange--there it is--that took place. And when you suggested that that's how I answered that question, that is factually wrong.
MR. RUSSERT: No, we...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That is not how I answered that question.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Secretary, it clearly represents the exchange and...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: It does not.
MR. RUSSERT: All right. What is missing?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You want to hear the exchange? There is it. It's right here. I'll read it to you.
MR. RUSSERT: I just...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: If you're going to quote pieces of it, I'll give you the exchange. He asked that question, and I said, "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to places where they are needed. I'm told they are being--the Army is--I think it's something like 400 a month are being done now. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It's not a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army's desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to the war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce armor necessary at a rate that they believe--it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that can be accomplished. I can assure you that General Schumacher and the leadership of the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip.
"It's interesting. I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and the tank could still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and the vehicle--the goal we have is to have many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that's what the Army's been working on. And, General Whitcomb, is there anything you want to add?" And then he spoke.
Now, that answer is totally different from picking out two lines. And I think it's an unfair representation and it's exactly what some of the newspapers around the country did. Now, let's go back to Susan Collins' comment, Senator Collins...

Bravo! Mister Secretary. Not once did he appear to be flustered with the idiocy of the questioning. Rummy lobbed every bomb right back at Russert and it was Russert who took the hits.

We are so very fortunate to have Donald Rumsfeld serving as Secretary of Defense in this challenging time.

NOTE: Unfortunately, Fox9 television preempted FoxNews Sunday today because of some frilly and embarrassing Superbowl Sunday extra. That's too bad, as FoxNews Sunday with Chris Wallace is an excellent program that yields plenty of useful information in an intelligent manner. I was especially keen on watching it as Wallace had indicated earlier this week that he was interested in reporting on the Eason Jordon scandal.


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