Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Interview With General David Petraeus, Afghanistan Discussion, And Investigating The Clemency Of Maurice Clemmons

Hi everybody. Let's do this thing, shall we? Fresh off of the Commander in Chief's primetime speech on Afghanistan, Team Obama continued the big sell today on Capitol Hill, with Secretaries Gates and Clinton in the forefront. This leads us into Anderson Cooper's EXCLUSIVE (!!!) interview with General David Petraeus. Well, a portion of it anyway. They're doing that thing again where they cut it all up and feed us a portion at a time. Somewhat annoying, though I partly get why they run it down this way.

Anyhoo! First subject? Timelines! The conservatives are having themselves a big old freak out because Obama dared to set a date. So now we have to go through all this hand wringing about the Taliban waiting us out. Petraeus tells Anderson the July 2011 date is just when we will begin the transition out of country. Um, also? Nobody thinks we're actually really leaving in 2011, right? We know that's just wishful thinking and goal-post moving crap, right? I mean, we think we're going to fix Afghanistan in 18 months? What?

Panel time! And ooh, they're at the beloved map table, though I'm not sure it's actually THE map table. Rocking out the seats are Michael Ware, Peter Bergen, and Chris Lawrence. Beaming in their knowledge via satellite are David Gergen and Robin Wright, a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace. All of the discussion is good, but I'm going to take a pass at extensive recapping. Of note is Michael reminding us that the withdrawal date is "not set in stone" and is essentially about "American domestic politics." Pretty much.

Our next segment of the Petraeus interview is a bit strange and goes a little something like this (first quote paraphrased): Anderson's all "aren't you nation building?" Leading Petraeus to go into an explanation of what they're doing, essentially a definition of nation building. "Well, that sounds like nation-building," says our anchor. And Petraeus continues. Anderson again: "But how is what we're doing not nation-building?" He's like a dog with a bone, except then we get this head-scratcher from the general: "I'm not saying that it's not nation-building. I'm not sure what you're getting at here." Hm. Awwkward.

Well, dude. I don't know what he's getting at here either anymore. So obviously this development opens the door to several different lines of questioning (Can we build a nation in 18 months? Is everyone not on the same page here?), but it just kinda ends and we get kicked back to the panel. There we learn that the Gerg actually thinks what we're doing is "nation building-lite" Oh c'mon. I think at this point we're just playing semantics.

The last segment of interview is about corruption in Afghanistan. Fun fact I learned from Anderson: opium does not go bad. Also of note is the Gerg saying it's a big achievement for the Obama camp that it looks like Congress will support them financially? Really? That's an achievement? Because when it comes to a president asking for war money, I'm pretty sure they've always rolled right over. Anyway, really good discussion.

Transitioning now to the case of cop-killer Maurice Clemmons, who was recently gunned down himself. In a Drew Griffin piece, we learn more about his violent history. The timeline of all this is confusing to me because it's really complicated and the structure of a package is not linear. But what most jumped out at me was the court and prison record violations. On Monday I was very critical of Anderson's line of questioning in his interview with Judge Humphrey. As I noted then, I really wish the violence in prison would have been substantially brought up.

I had also partly defended Governor Huckabee at that time, so the big question now is: did he know? Drew actually managed to track him down and Huckabee admits that he did know--had read all about that stuff. We don't get any follow ups, but I can't really blame Drew for that (and you know I would) because Huckabee literally takes off on him. The on-record prison violence definitely has me leading toward the opinion that Huckabee screwed up.

Initially, I was very put off by the knee-jerk reaction of people who seemingly just needed someone to blame for a horrendous crime. I've long ago accepted that sometimes life just sucks for no reason and there is no why. I'm not sure the timeline was clear to some people and an impression was given that the governor and judge knew of all of the killer's crimes (even those occurring in Washington State, which would have been the future) and still set him free. That's not how it went down. If Clemmons had been a model prisoner, I would argue that Huckabee is innocent in this situation. But the history of violence is tangible evidence that one could assess and see how it might lead to four dead police officers.

Next, Joe Johns joins us live to explain the whole other part of this story, which went down in Washington State. On parole, Clemmons managed to lie low for about four year and then got into a mess of trouble this past May. Because of technicalities or whatever, he was able to post bail, money he got from some place called "Jail Sucks Bail Bonds." Lovely. What's sad is that it sounds like this guy was able to skate through the system on a mistake here and failure there until...disaster. A horrible chain. And now all the fingers of blame are pointing to the first link.

This is evidenced by Jeffrey Toobin's first comment in the next segment: "Well, the parts of the story are very complicated, but one part is very simple. Those four police officers would be alive today if Mike Huckabee did not pardon this guy." You can't put all the blame on Huckabee, but he could have stopped the sequence of events from happening. Also? If the governor does stupidly try a go at 2012, me thinks our senior legal analyst might have just secured a spot in an attack ad.

Next they again run the Patrol Base Jaker piece. Though I'm not a fan of repeats, I think it's important the public sees how our troops our living. And I imagine that's exactly the reason they keep rerunning it.

The "shot" tonight is a dude updating his Facebook relationship status at the alter. Seriously. I mean, it's sorta cute and funny, but it's your WEDDING! It's one of those long-term memories and I'm not sure you want to add a gag about a social networking site that may not even be around in another 20 years. Anyway, from Anderson we learn that the groom also did some tweeting during the ceremony. This brings on our anchor's snark because we all know how much he LOVES him the Twitter.

The show was good tonight. Solid hard news. Woo hoo! Did you notice what we didn't see? No Tiger Woods! I could hardly believe it. So they ARE capable of passing up sensational stories. I hope they keep it up.

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