Monday, September 21, 2009

John Edwards Back In The News And Back In Trouble, A Request For Troops In Afghanistan, Garrido Is Weird, And Georgia Flooding

Hi everybody. We begin tonight by NOT being assaulted by the annoying "breaking news" graphic. I am pleased. Anyway! Anderson Cooper--Emmy winning--Anderson Cooper tells us "The New York Times," has some new scoop on John Edwards. Yeah, that guy. About 10 political scandals back. Think hard and I'm sure you'll remember.

Once upon a time there was a handsome politician who was a true progressive with a shot at the White House. Unfortunately for this politician, he had a rough go of it. His beloved wife's cancer returned, and his candidacy fizzled out. Then there were these weird whispers about an affair. It couldn't be true! Not this politician. Besides, the whispers came from a tabloid. So the establishment media stuck up their noses and the politician brushed it off and that was that.

Until there was a hotel confrontation...and pictures. And suddenly nobody was brushing anything off. Then of course there were the apologies and the Oprah heart-to-heart, but that baby? That other woman's baby? That was not his. Definitely not. Which brings us to where we are today. Because according to "The Times," oh yeah, Edwards is the baby daddy. At least that's what they report he's about to admit. Is there anyone out there who is shocked by this?

Apparently, this is all coming about because "The Times" obtained a book proposal from former Edwards' aide, Andrew Young, and I guess he's spilling his guts. Young claims Edwards asked him to claim paternity of Rielle Hunter's baby and he did. The aide has also written that Edwards promised Hunter that after Elizabeth died they'd get married in a NYC rooftop ceremony complete with Dave Matthews Band. Where to even begin? I mean, dude, why you gotta drag Dave into this?

Obviously the big issue here--besides Edwards clearly being a douchebag--is that Hunter just testified before a grand jury about the money she received from the Edwards campaign. You'll remember that she supposedly made videos for him and that's why she was paid. I guess we'll see how that all plays out. Also, throughout all of this, Anderson uses some version of the word "lie" a bunch of times. And I kinda love it. See? That didn't burn or anything, did it? More spade calling please. (Oh, Joe Johns was here live and I guess I kinda just wrote him out. Sorry Joe.)

Anderson tells us that they invited Edwards on the show, but he declined. So they got the next best guest. Um, scratch that, they had to go a little further down the list and what we end up with is someone tangentially connected to the story: Hunter's sorta friend, Pigeon O'Brien (yeah, I know). I say "sorta friend" because they haven't talked for a while, and Rielle doesn't even want her doing this. So, in terms of this interview, I think the question on the tip of everyone's tongue is, "um, why?" I don't know, people. I don't know.

Anyway, Pigeon knows the baby is Edwards' and we also get a weirdly long PR-type explanation of Hunter's campaign videos, which were apparently very "innovative" (before the Youtube, people!). But the real kicker is when Anderson asks her what they called Edwards. We get this tortured look from Pigeon and our anchor actually asks again. Because this is very important! The nickname? Lovelips. To the Silver Fox's credit, he does not react to this at all. Not even an amused blink.

So okay, I'm not really sure why that just happened. She was a good guest in that she was very articulate, but I'm not really buying her supposed motive that this is all about justice. I mean, the story is going to be in "The Times." I think there's a good chance people will hear about it. I smell an opportunist. Hopefully I'm wrong. Either way, pretty pointless interview.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by David Gergen and attorney Sunny Hostin. Anderson lays out everything Edwards has done and asks the Gerg if he's ever seen anything like this. Oh c'mon! We seem to see something like this every other month. But the fact that Edwards was a real presidential contender is a big point, which the Gerg expands on. It's a topic that I wrote about when the affair first broke. You can read about how Edwards went from "my guy" to DEAD. TO. ME. by clicking here.

Sunny gives us the legal low down and we learn that Edwards could actually go to prison if it turns out he was being as ethical with his campaign cash as he was with his marriage. Then Anderson disses Hunter's videos, which I only note because Pigeon just got done talking them up, so it's a little amusing. And finally the Gerg, dear sweet Gerg, tries to rationalize that Edwards' silence might partly be due to wanting to protect Elizabeth. Because he was thinking about her feelings so much before. I want to be un-cynical like the Gerg when I grow up. He always thinks the best of people.

Transitioning now to what in my opinion should have been up top: the leaked report from General Stanley McChrystal regarding the need for more troops in Afghanistan. Obama has already ordered 21,000, but they need more or the war effort could fail. They also need more trained Afghans. This leads us into a repeat Anderson piece from when they were in the country a couple of weeks ago. Scroll if you missed it.

Discussion time! We're joined by Peter Bergen, Michael Ware, and Rory Stewart of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights. I love Rory. He walked across Afghanistan all by himself in 2001. I mean, wow. Loyal--some might say obsessive--viewers will remember Rory from 360's Afghanistan trip three years ago. See? Rory does not support adding more troops because he doesn't think Americans will stomach 100,000 to 200,000 troops there indefinitely.

Peter notes that "the classic counter insurgency doctrine" requires about 600,000 soldiers and cops to control Afghanistan. Oh...we are screwed. As Peter says, "do the math." Yeah, we're no where near that. Anderson further bums us out by pointing out all the corruption in the Afghan government. Then we get to Michael, whose awesomeness sometimes leaves me speechless. Blunt honesty: "The government that doesn't exist. I mean, America is not going to win this war. Let's face facts. I mean, we're now at the point where we could lose this war," he says. Michael seems to advocate a kind of "Awakening" strategy, except with tribal forces.

Rory thinks everything needs to be reframed because actually doing this whole Afghanistan thing is going to require a significant amount of troops for 30 or 40 years, which would not be popular at all stateside. He thinks what is in the works right now really isn't going to change anything. Anderson then brings up how our troops really seem to be nation building and not hunting terrorists. This brings Peter to point out the big mismatch we currently have in our resources. We need civilians on the ground, but we mostly have marines, who aren't exactly trained for what they're doing right now.

The absence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is brought up as well and Michael again pushes that we need Afghans to fight. But of course Anderson points out that we went that way before with the Mujahideen and I think we all remember that didn't work out so hot for us in the long run. Rory doesn't think anything we're doing adds up. Well,...great. Speaking of greatness of the non sarcastic variety, that was an awesome panel discussion. Seriously, do I see an "Extreme Challenges" special in the future?

I caught Obama on Letterman tonight and having just watched this panel, it was quite interesting to hear him talk about how we need to defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Obviously this topic needs much much more discussion. In a perfect world, tomorrow 360 will play that Obama clip, followed by Michael Ware live to rip it apart. Then they'll have on someone from the Obama administration to respond, all the while Michael remains live. But alas, we don't live in a perfect world.

Moving on now to their new "Prime Suspect" series, which I pretty much couldn't care less about. In a Dan Simon piece, we learn that Philip Garrido had a black box that he thought tapped into the "other side." Or something. And ooh, we even get to see the box! It's black, in case you were wondering. So yeah, turns out Garrido is kinda kooky. I never would have guessed that about a kidnapper who held a woman and her two kids in his backyard for years.

On now to the horrible flooding in Georgia. David Mattingly is standing knee deep in the water and he tells us that they've had 12 inches of rain in 12 hours. At least five people are dead. It's a pretty bad situation and I would have thought it would rate above the Edwards thing, but guess not. Anyway, David tells us that authorities have cautioned people to stay away from the water. David is doing a good job with that, no? He then demonstrates the strength of the current by throwing a plastic bottle into the flooding. Dude, did you just litter? And you know that's not the first one he threw. Joking aside, I hope everyone stays safe.

The "shot" tonight is of Michael Jackson. Meh. They just can't let go, can they? I thought the show was pretty good. There was some ridiculousness with the Edwards story, but the Afghanistan coverage made up for it. I hope they stay on the story. That'll do it.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

I as glad you returned to 360, reading the posts are most of the time better than having to endure the stories. Thanks for watiching and providing coverage of John Edwards/Pigeon/Andrew Young so I didn't have to. It's so depressing about Afghanistan. There is nothing to hope for there. I agree with you that the flooding merits being the opening story. How is your breathing/oxygen treatment coming along? Anne D.

7:20 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Hi Anne,

Yeah, I couldn't stay away. I think this blog is my therapy. If I didn't do it, I'd just yell at the TV like a crazy person.

The show has been having its moments of suck, but I don't think they've been too bad lately. Remember when they went months and months with almost the same damn panel every night and Anderson pretty much never did any real interviews ever? See, could be worse.

I honestly have no idea what to think about Afghanistan. I just wish everyone was on the same page in regards to the mission.

As for my health, I'm status quo girl--no better, no worse. I'll need the machine the rest of my life, but I don't need oxygen. You take what you can get.

1:09 AM  

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