Wednesday, April 09, 2008

General Petraeus Goes (Back) To Washington And More On The Polygamy Compound Raid (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Campbell Brown is holding down the anchor chair for Anderson Cooper again. Well deserved vacation, perhaps? Anyway, hey, remember back in September when General Petraeus and his media-designated side-kick Ambassador Ryan Crocker took a little trip to Capitol Hill, where there was much kerfuffle over what they were or weren't going to say? Well, back then they basically told us to wait. So now we've waited over six months and they've come back to tell us that...we should wait some more. Kinda anti-climatic. If you'll allow me to sum up their testimony, it goes a little something like this: that whole war thing? Not going to be over for a long time.

Tom Foreman then joins us live with the bummer news that we shouldn't expect those troop levels to go below pre-surge levels anytime soon. Other facts given that can be filed in the "without context" drawer include a decrease in violence and improvement in Iraqi troops. Of course that last thing may depend on whether or not they get to break for lunch first. In a clip, Petraeus notes that it's not time for celebrating yet and the champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the fridge. To which the average Iraqi replied, "It doesn't matter where you push the bottle, we hardly have any electricity!" Also? Joe Biden is angry. And you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Or, er, actually I do. Because even though there's no Hulk action going on here, in his questioning he points out that we're not getting anywhere with this war--we're just "treading water."

Next up, we have a Candy Crowley piece on how the questions from the presidential candidates did or didn't make them look, well, presidential. Really, there was nothing spectacular or surprising from any of the three. Though I do have to say that the mere existence of this discussion is making me nauseous. This is not some complicated photo-op; this is about a real war where real people are really dying. Every day. Politics should have no place here. Of course that whole notion is kind of ironic given that Petraeus and Crocker, while professional and noble men they may be, have been politicized by the Bush administration since day one.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Candy, Nic Robertson, Michael Ware, and David Gergen. The panel kicks off with Candy talking about the political aspect, but I'm skipping over it because it just feels dirty. The Gerg thinks it's almost like the candidates were looking at two separate wars (McCain's war vs. Obama and Clinton's). And I'm betting neither of them are the real war. But let's get to Michael, shall we? He tells us that, yes, Petraeus and Crocker are basically serving it to us straight, but gloss abounds, and, oh yeah, they might have left out some stuff. Michael is upset about the lack of probing questions and the fact that candidates treated the hearings more as a show for their candidacies. "I mean, some people are living this thing. It is not a campaign event," he says. Thank you! Later Michael says it creates "a discomfort" in him, which I have to say is almost comically understated for our impassioned Aussie. Those are so not the words he's using when the cameras are off.

We then move on to Nic and the subject of possible diplomatic talks with Iran. Nic actually talked with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who acknowledges the Iranian problem, but would really like to get the U.S. and Iran to come together. For you see, while our president likes to beat war drums and talk of Iranian evilness, al-Maliki kinda has to live right next to the country. It's a lot easier to talk smack about someone who lives two towns over than it is your neighbor who can make your life a daily hell. But anyway, we then go to commercial and when we come back poor Michael is still very upset about the hearing. "I found it a galling experience, to see the war so dismembered and -- and so sterilized," he tells us. He then talks a bit about the gloss and the lack of context. Finally, noting, "For or against this war, whether you liked it from the beginning or not, that's irrelevant, folks. This is the war you have got, and you have to take responsibility for this, either out of self- interest or out of some moral responsibility, and you have got to get on with this. "

You know, honestly I'm not sure I have a clear opinion any more on what we should do about the war. They tell us there'll be bloodshed if we go, but they told us a lot of things that turned out not to be true--how can they know? I used to be one of the "pull out now" people, but now I'm just confused. Conservatives and even people like Michael tell us that how we got in this war is irrelevant now and we need to deal with the war we've got. While that's true in some ways, I think that those of us who have been against this war from the start have been having such a hard time with that notion because no one, no one, has been held accountable. And I'm sorry, I just can't let that go. There have been too many lies. Too many unnecessary deaths. Officials make some of the worst blunders in our nation's history and they get the Medal of Freedom. Even Scooter Libby, who let's face it was just the fall guy, didn't do a day in jail. That's justice Bush-style.

We've had five years of lies about this war, so it's kind of understandable the country is having a hard time dealing with it. What we need is someone to lay it all out for the American people, without the gloss. Because there are very serious questions no one is asking. I mean, has anyone even talked about what's going to happen to the contractors when the U.S. pulls out? But anyway, if history is any indicator there will be no big truth telling speech. Instead we'll just welcome Petraeus and Crocker back come September. Anybody care to guess what they'll say?

After the panel, we learn that Petty Officer and Navy SEAL, Michael Monsoor, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving his comrades by throwing himself on a grenade. This is of obvious note because the guy is a hero and deserves to be recognized, but also because the news wants us to know that Bush was "teary-eyed." And my reaction to that is the same reaction Cheney had when asked about American's disapproval of the war: "So." Seriously, who the hell cares about Bush? It's not about him. He doesn't even deserve to be around Monsoor's medal. And isn't it a coinky-dink that this very patriotic ceremony was scheduled on the very same day as Petraeus' testimony? Why, it's almost like they planned it that way. But exploiting the troops for political gain? That's crazy talk.

A big transition now to polygamy and in a David Mattingly piece we learn a little more about that 16-year-old that sparked the El Dorado raid. She was married at 15 to a 49-year-old man (which is disgusting) and then went on to suffer beatings and sexual abuse. The girl was also held against her will and the really unfortunate part is they have yet to identify her. Hopefully she was one of the girls taken out in the raid, but they can't know that for sure. We then throw to commercial and as we come back, our sadistic little 360 friends play us some creepy singing from Warren Jeffs. Why, why, why would you do that, 360? I thought you were going to burn those tapes. Were things not clear enough last time? And you just know they're laughing at us, people. The crew probably listens to it while they're choreographing their thigh dancing.

Anyway, next we have Mike Watkiss back from yesterday and he is very sad he's not shocked about any of this. But he is very angry. Just keep exposing it, Mike. It's about all you can do. From Mike we move to an interview with Kathy Jo Nicholson, who was a student of Warren Jeffs and was able to escape that life. She tells us of fasting and beating. Not fun stuff. Then we go to commercial and come back to what is basically the greatest hits of Gary Tuchman being shunned in the FLDS community. This moves us into a Gary piece on a 1953 polygamy raid, which was taken from the 2006 wing of the 360 vault. We haven't seen much of live Gary lately. Hopefully enjoying some nice time off.

Well, that's it. No Shot or "WWTT?" apparently. Unless they were in the second hour. The show was pretty good. As my regular readers know, I'm not really a fan of the polygamy stuff, but that's personal taste. It's definitely an important story that I think deserves coverage; I guess maybe my problem is I watch the show too much, so all the coverage of it seems the same to me. As for the Iraq stuff, I hate to say this, but I was missing Anderson during the panels. Perhaps I'm being unfair (especially since Campbell may not have even written the questions), but I think his questions would have been more on point. For example, check out the last time Petraeus went to Washington. I'm just saying the coverage was a little surfacey. So I think I'm going to again stick them with a B


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