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Donaldson: Democratic House Takeover with Subpoenas 'Good Thing' --10/24/2006


1. Donaldson: Democratic House Takeover with Subpoenas 'Good Thing'
Democratic control of the House, with the inevitable ensuing subpoenas and investigations, will be a "good thing," ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson declared on Sunday's This Week. During a roundtable discussion on how Republicans are trying to scare their base into voting by warning of how liberals will take over key committee slots if Democrats will the House, Donaldson predicted: "What we'll see is subpoenas, if they take control, and these subpoenas will delve into every nook and cranny of the Republican administration for the last six years." That prompted Cokie Roberts to point out: "Well, now you're doing the Republican talking points, because that is exactly what the administration is making people fear." Donaldson wondered: "Why do you think I'm saying it's a bad thing?" And he made clear: "I think it's probably a good thing."

2. CNN's Defense: Do People Have 'Right to Know What War is Like?'
Feeling the heat from critics in Washington and across the country over airing sniper video handed to it by an Iraqi terrorist group called the Islamic Army of God, CNN offered air time to Congressman Duncan Hunter on Monday's 5pm EDT edition of The Situation Room. Wolf Blitzer interviewed Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and CNN military analyst Gen. David Grange, but if the General was brought in to debate Hunter, it backfired. Grange ended up agreeing with Hunter that the U.S. media helps the insurgents: "They are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat." Blitzer framed CNN's Sniper Theatre by asking Hunter "Do the American people have a right to know what war is like?" Hunter replied: "Wolf, the American people aren't made out of cotton candy. They understand, when you see 2,791 battlefield deaths, that people are killed, and they are killed in bad ways."

3. Olbermann Unglued: GOP the 'Leading Terrorist Group' in America
On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann delivered his latest anti-Bush, anti-GOP "Special Comment," this time accusing President Bush and Republicans of committing the "dictionary definition" of terrorism in trying to scare Americans into voting for them, even contending that "the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party." Olbermann laid blame for the delayed discovery of the remains of 9/11 victims at the feet of President Bush and Republicans: "And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism? You can't even recover our dead from the battlefield, the battlefield in an American city, when we've given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!" AUDIO&VIDEO

4. For 2nd Night, Nets Tout 'Political Phenom' Obama, a 'Sensation'
A night after ABC led with the supposedly "remarkable reversal" by Senator Barack Obama to think about running for President, and a full story on the NBC Nightly News, both network evening newscasts were back again with full stories Monday night on Obama the "rock star." Remarkably, given how he decides what is newsworthy, at the top of World News Charles Gibson asked: "Why does he get so much attention?" ABC's puff story for Obama -- reporter Kate Snow gushed about how "his base is growing. Even Oprah seemed to endorse him" -- followed the lead story about dour poll numbers for Republicans. With "Overnight Sensation" on screen, NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed in his teaser: "Tonight, the overnight sensation surrounding a Senator with real star power, may have changed everything for the Democrats in the run for the White House." Williams later cited how Obama has "rocked the political world" and cued up Tim Russert with how "they say here's a guy who could actually cause excitement over American politics to break out again." Russert championed how "he's getting rock star treatment all across the country."

5. ABC's Shipman: Obama the 'It' Democratic Candidate for '08
On the heels of last week's glowing reports on NBC's Today and CNN's American Morning, ABC couldn't resist jumping on the Obama-for-president bandwagon. During the 7am half hour of Monday's Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman reported on comments from Democratic Senator Barack Obama in which he expressed interest in pursing his party's nomination for President in 2008. In her introduction to Shipman's piece, GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts referred to the "red hot buzz" (generated by the mainstream media) surrounding Obama as proof that the Senator is "already a major political player." Shipman promoted Obama as the new "it" candidate among Democrats. She also highlighted flattering statements from talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who described Obama as her "favorite Senator," and political analyst Larry Sabato, who predicted that Obama has the "charisma to skyrocket" to become the preferred Democratic candidate for President.

6. Matthews Panel Raves About 'Ridiculously Good Looking' Obama
The media's swooning over Barack Obama continued on Chris Matthews' syndicated weekend show. Obama drew such rave reviews from the panel as: "terrific!" "hero!" and "ridiculously good looking!" However Obama wasn't the only Democrat drawing praise as Harold Ford Jr's campaign was described as "nearly flawless," but Republican George "not the brightest bulb on Broadway" Allen didn't fare as well with the critics, as his campaign was labeled "one of the stupidest campaigns that [was] ever conducted in the history of American politics."


Donaldson: Democratic House Takeover
with Subpoenas 'Good Thing'

Democratic control of the House, with the inevitable ensuing subpoenas and investigations, will be a "good thing," ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson declared on Sunday's This Week. During a roundtable discussion on how Republicans are trying to scare their base into voting by warning of how liberals will take over key committee slots if Democrats will the House, Donaldson predicted: "What we'll see is subpoenas, if they take control, and these subpoenas will delve into every nook and cranny of the Republican administration for the last six years." That prompted Cokie Roberts to point out: "Well, now you're doing the Republican talking points, because that is exactly what the administration is making people fear." Donaldson wondered: "Why do you think I'm saying it's a bad thing?" And he made clear: "I think it's probably a good thing."

Earlier, Donaldson presumed an impending Democratic victory: "The Republicans are in charge, but I don't think they will be after election day."

The exchange, on the October 22 This Week with George Stephanopoulos, about the desirability of a Democratic takeover and the subsequent investigations:

Sam Donaldson: "What we'll see is subpoenas, if they take control, and these subpoenas will delve into every nook and cranny of the Republican administration for the last six years."
Cokie Roberts: "Well, now you're doing the Republican talking points, because that is exactly what the administration is making people fear."
Donaldson: "Why do you think I'm saying it's a bad thing?"
Roberts: "Well no, I'm saying that is, I understand that-"
Donaldson: "I think it's probably a good thing."
Roberts: "I understand you think it's a good thing, but a lot of people don't think it's a good thing."

CNN's Defense: Do People Have 'Right
to Know What War is Like?'

Feeling the heat from critics in Washington and across the country over airing sniper video handed to it by an Iraqi terrorist group called the Islamic Army of God, CNN offered air time to Congressman Duncan Hunter on Monday's 5pm EDT edition of The Situation Room. Wolf Blitzer interviewed Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and CNN military analyst Gen. David Grange, but if the General was brought in to debate Hunter, it backfired. Grange ended up agreeing with Hunter that the U.S. media helps the insurgents: "They are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat." Blitzer framed CNN's Sniper Theatre by asking Hunter "Do the American people have a right to know what war is like?" Hunter replied: "Wolf, the American people aren't made out of cotton candy. They understand, when you see 2,791 battlefield deaths, that people are killed, and they are killed in bad ways."

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

After the cheap stunt of airing this insurgent video, at least CNN deserved some credit for bringing in Hunter to critique their decision, and he did it very sharply. It was obvious that CNN was in its usual pose of Just Us Journalists Exposing the World to Hard Realities. Blitzer promoted the segment before the commercial this way: "Critics call it insurgent propaganda. CNN stands by its difficult decision to report the news."

Blitzer first aired a set-up piece by Brian Todd which mostly sounded like a network executive's defense brief: "When a U.S. serviceman is killed by a sniper in Iraq, it is often officially designated only as a death from small arms fire. The randomness, the sudden brutality of life taken is not mentioned. Last Wednesday, CNN not only mentioned it, but showed it to viewers on video taken by an insurgent sniper...This insurgent video showing sniper attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq was given to CNN by insurgents calling themselves the Islamic Army after CNN sent e-mail questions to the group. In correspondent Michael Ware's report, CNN only used images shot from a distance and never showed a serviceman being hit, dissolving to black before the impact. The network made clear it is not known what happened to the targeted soldiers." Todd also underlined that Anderson Cooper explained "Our decision to run it has not been taken lightly."

But even in this piece, Hunter was blunt that CNN saw the war just as a game to score profits for itself: "CNN is a world observer and they're watching what they view to be a football game between one side and another side. They don't see the insurgents as the enemy. They don't see our soldiers as our friends. They see this as a -- as something to be covered, to sell commercials."

In other words, the United States is trying to beat the terrorists in Iraq, while CNN is trying to beat Greta van Susteren in the overnight ratings.

Todd added corporate boilerplate: "In a statement, CNN said: 'The decision to air the insurgents' videotape was a difficult one, but for a news organization, the right one. Our responsibility is to report the news. As an organization, we stand by our decision and respect the rights of others to disagree with it.'"

Blitzer began his interview with Hunter by noting the Chairman had said on Friday he didn't see the video, "because, you know, we never actually showed a U.S. military officer or serviceman being killed. We went to black before anyone was shot."

Hunter wasn't backing down: "One, this is propaganda by the bad guys. It has almost no value in terms of the overall strategy of the war. It simply shows somebody being shot. Everybody who is killed in Iraq, every one of the 271 -- or 2,791 -- soldiers who has died is listed the next day in thousands of newspapers and media across the nation. So this isn't -- this isn't a case of people not knowing that soldiers are being shot.
"But the idea that in the invasion of Normandy, if Hitler sent us a film, sent CNN a film showing Americans going down under .50 caliber bullets on the -- on the beaches of Normandy or in Iowa Jima, the Imperial Government of Japan sending CNN images of American Marines -- 5,000 of them were killed at Iowa Jima -- going down under the impact of rounds as they hit that beach, or went out on Mount Suribachi would have been outrageous."

When Blitzer went to Grange for his take, it was clear that Grange wasn't going to declare that CNN was right to air it, although he tried to be a good team player at first: "I believe Anderson Cooper did say, that this was, in fact, a propaganda film, and that I would talk about this as typical, just like of beheadings, of how our enemies use propaganda information warfare to influence public opinion, both overseas and in the United States. So, I -- I do know that they went through a very difficult decision on this. I'm not saying it was right or wrong. I think what came out of it, knowing that something was going to be shown, that they -- they did it the best they could, because it's a very gruesome film, if you look at the whole thing."

Blitzer tried to argue that they were only exposing the world to the hard realities, and responding to left-wing critics that the war is sanitized since gruesome death isn't show on TV for young children to see: "Is this appropriate, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Hunter, for the American public to see how awful, to see how brutal the war can actually be? Because I -- I guess there has been criticism from the other side that we sort of whitewash, and we don't really convey to the American public the full extent of the brutality of the enemy. Do the American people have a right to know what war is like?"

Hunter argued that the people have never been more able to go find images of gruesome death in an American war: "Well, first, Wolf, the American people aren't made out of cotton candy. They understand, when you see 2,791 battlefield deaths, that people are killed, and they are killed in bad ways. This is the first generation of Americans that could actually go online and watch an American be decapitated, have his head cut off by al-Zarqawi, as they watch. So, I would say that, contrary to what you are saying, this is a war in which more brutality is shown than probably any other.
"But the point is that -- that this one killing of one American doesn't really tell any statistic. Of -- of the people killed in Iraq, 524 of our Americans have been killed in accidents, mainly automobile accidents. Now, you don't show automobile accidents, because it's not sexy. It's not violent. It doesn't draw a big audience. Showing the impact of a single bullet, a single shooting doesn't tell you anything. If you isolated one American going down on Omaha Beach at Normandy, what would that tell the American public?"

Blitzer tried to get Gen. Grange to defend airing the insurgent video as a help to the war effort: "When the Pentagon announces killed in action, they -- they don't refer to snipers specifically. They refer to small-arms fire. And there have been hundreds of American troops who have been killed in small-arms fire. And -- and one of the things that we saw in this video -- and, General Grange, let me let you elaborate -- is the nature of the enemy, how they stalk and try to kill American troops with these kinds of snipers. But, go ahead, General, and -- and talk a little bit about that."

Grange sounded apologetic that he decided to comment for CNN: "No, I mean, you can argue whether the tape should be shown or not. I mean, I just looked back. Since 9/11, I mean, a different -- when you are asked to do a -- to make comment on a different segment, quite often, it's a decision you have to make, at least in my case, as a retired G.I., and working with the media periodically, that I always have a tough decision whether I should even comment or not. In this case, this thing is shown overseas. And I knew it would be shown in some extent. Thank God that we show it in a -- in a better way than it is showed in its raw footage.
"But point is that I guess I cheated a little bit, because we kind of -- my comments were kind of to turn it around and show the -- and capabilities of the enemy in this regard, and -- and how they use civilians for cover, and abuse civilian neighborhoods, and -- and just the way they operate, which is against the land -- rule of land warfare, to expose those things. So, you know, in a difficult situation like this, showing it or not, I think it's also an opportunity to exploit these guys, and give the information to our people, so we can survive and take them down."

Hunter returned to his argument that the insurgents are getting their wishes granted by CNN, and might encourage further terrorism: "General, I look at it just the opposite. I think showing Americans being killed by terrorists, with -- apparently, with impunity, because the film doesn't show the terrorists then being pursued and killed. And lots of terrorists who have shot at Americans took their last shot at the Americans, because they themselves were killed in turn. But showing the world a film, and lots of terrorists out there watching their TV sets, a picture of an American being killed in a crowd by a terrorist who operates, apparently, with impunity, and gets away, is highly suggestive, I think, and highly instructive to them. And I think it's dangerous to Americans, not only uniformed Americans, but also tourists, Americans who might go abroad and be in one of those crowds one day, when somebody who saw that film, how you just walk up and kill them while they are in a crowd, decides to replicate that action."

Blitzer tried to wrap the segment up by suggesting it's beyond the pale for a Congressman to question the credibility or patriotism of CNN: "In your letter, you suggest that CNN reporters no longer be allowed to be embedded with U.S. military forces in Iraq. We have several of our reporters all the time embedded, literally risking their lives, very courageous reporters, whether Michael Ware. John Roberts is embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq right now. And -- and we have -- we have -- we have been doing that for three-and-a-half years. Are you at least open to this notion that good people, like you and General Grange, can disagree on this, without questioning the -- the credibility, the patriotism of CNN?"

Hunter replied: "I think the question I asked when I saw this, Wolf, is, does CNN want America to win this thing? And, if I was a platoon leader there, as I once was, and I had a -- and I had a news organization which had shown, had -- had taken film from the enemy, showing them killing one of my soldiers, and they asked if they could be embedded in my platoon, my answer would be no.
"I go back to the -- to the -- the days of guys like Joe Rosenthal, who filmed the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and Ernie Pyle, who was a soldier's reporter, the guys who were on our side -- even though they reported the rough and the tough of the war, they were on our side. You can't be on both sides. And I would say, if I was that platoon leader, I would say, absolutely not. Take CNN out of there. You can't be on both sides."

Blitzer concluded: "I will give you a -- just a quick second to wrap it up, General Grange."

Grange agreed with Hunter: "Well, as a platoon leader in Vietnam, I would have said the same thing. I agree with you on that -- or even in Iraq today. My -- my concern is the power of information warfare, and how they use it. And I -- and I look at opportunities that we can turn around on the enemy, because they are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat."

Olbermann Unglued: GOP the 'Leading Terrorist
Group' in America

On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann delivered his latest anti-Bush, anti-GOP "Special Comment," this time accusing President Bush and Republicans of committing the "dictionary definition" of terrorism in trying to scare Americans into voting for them, even contending that "the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party." Olbermann laid blame for the delayed discovery of the remains of 9/11 victims at the feet of


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More See & Hear the Bias

President Bush and Republicans: "And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism? You can't even recover our dead from the battlefield, the battlefield in an American city, when we've given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!"

[This item by Brad Wilmouth was posted Monday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The video and audio will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video clip, or MP3 audio, which all start about four minutes into the nearly 11-minute long screed, go to: newsbusters.org ]

MSNBC.com has posted a transcript and MSN video at: www.msnbc.msn.com

After beginning his "Special Comment" describing an RNC ad displaying the image of Osama bin Laden, Olbermann brought up the dictionary definition of terrorism as he applied the term to the GOP's tactics and labeled the party a terrorist group. Olbermann: "'To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.' By this definition, the people who put these videos together, first the terrorists and then the administration, whose shared goal is to scare you into panicking instead of thinking, they are the ones terrorizing you. By this definition, the leading terrorist group in this world right now is al-Qaeda. But the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party."

Olbermann accused the Bush administration of "deriving benefit and power from terrorizing the very people it claims to be protecting from terror" and invoked Joe McCarthy as having committed a similar transgression. Addressing President Bush, Olbermann soon labeled it "cynical and barbaric" of Bush to engage in the "gutter politics" of "trying to run your candidates on the coattails of the Grim Reaper."

Olbermann: "There are some of us who could forgive you for trying to run your candidates on the coattails of the Grim Reaper, for reducing your party's existence to 'Death and Attacks Us.' It's cynical and barbaric. But, after all, it may be merely the natural extension of the gutter politics to which you have subscribed since you sidled over from baseball and the business world of other people's money."

Olbermann ended up ridiculously blaming President Bush and Republicans for the delayed discovery of 9/11 victims at Ground Zero: "For all the victims in New York, Mr. Bush, the living and the dead, it is a touch of 9/11 all over again. And the mayor of this city, who called off the search four-and-a-half years ago, is a Republican. The governor of this state with whom he conferred is a Republican. The House of Representatives, Republican. The Senate, Republican. The President, Republican. And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism? You can't even recover our dead from the battlefield, the battlefield in an American city, when we've given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!"

Olbermann concluded by accusing the President of "waging pointless war on the wrong enemy in Iraq" and of "waging war on the cherished freedoms in America," labeling the Bush administration the "least competent government in time of crisis in this country's history."

Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the Monday, October 23 Countdown show on MSNBC:
"And lastly tonight, a 'Special Comment' on the advertising of terrorism, the commercial you have already seen. It is a distillation of everything this administration and the party in power have tried to do these last five years and six weeks. It is from the Republican National Committee. It shows images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It offers quotes from them, all as a clock ticks ominously in the background. It concludes with what Zawahiri may or may not have said to a Pakistani journalist as long ago as 2001: His dubious claim that he had purchased 'suitcase bombs.' The quotation is followed, by sheer coincidence no doubt, by an image of a massive explosion. 'These are the stakes,' appears on the screen, quoting exactly from Lyndon Johnson's infamous nuclear scare commercial from 1964. 'Vote November 7th.'
"There is a cheap Texas Chainsaw Massacre quality to the whole thing. It also serves to immediately call to mind the occasions when President Bush dismissed Osama bin Laden as somebody he didn't think about, except obviously when elections were near. Frankly, a lot of people seeing that commercial for the first time have laughed out loud. But not everyone. And therein lies the true threat to this country.
"The dictionary definition of the word 'terrorize' is simple and not open to misinterpretation: 'To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.' Note please, that the words 'violence' and 'death' are missing from that definition. For the key to terror, the key to terrorism, is not the act, but the fear of the act. That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotaped statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings. But why is the Republican Party imitating them? Bin Laden puts out what amounts to a commercial of fear. The Republicans put out what is unmistakable as a commercial of fear. The Republicans are paying to have the messages of bin Laden and the others broadcast into your home. Only the Republicans have a bigger bank roll.
"When, last week, the CNN network ran video of an insurgent in Iraq, evidently stalking and killing an American soldier, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Hunter, Republican of California, branded that channel, quote, 'the publicist for an enemy propaganda film,' and added that CNN used it 'to sell commercials.' Another California Republican, Rep. Brian Bilbray, called the video, quote, 'nothing short of a terrorist snuff film.' If so, Mr. Bilbray, then what in the hell is your party's new advertisement? And, Mr. Hunter, CNN using the video to 'sell commercials'? Commercials! You have adopted bin Laden and Zawahiri as spokesmen for the Republican National Committee!
"'To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.' By this definition, the people who put these videos together, first the terrorists and then the administration, whose shared goal is to scare you into panicking instead of thinking, they are the ones terrorizing you. By this definition, the leading terrorist group in this world right now is al-Qaeda. But the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party.
"Eleven Presidents ago, a chief executive reassured us that 'we have nothing to fear but fear itself.' His distant successor has wasted his administration insisting that there is nothing we can have but fear itself. The Vice President, as recently as this month, was caught campaigning again with the phrase 'mass death in the United States.' Four years ago, it was the now-Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, rationalizing Iraq with, quote, 'We don't want the smoking gun to be the mushroom cloud.' Days later, Mr. Bush himself told an audience that, quote, 'We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.' And now we have this cheesy commercial, complete with images of a faked mushroom cloud, and implications of 'mass death in America.'

[Video/audio clip linked above starts here]
"This administration has derived benefit and power from terrorizing the very people it claims to be protecting from terror. It may be the oldest trick in the political book: Scare people into believing they are in danger and that only you can save them. Lyndon Johnson used it to bury Barry Goldwater. Joe McCarthy leaped from obscurity on its back. And now the legacy has come to President George Bush.
"Of course, the gruel of fear is getting thinner and thinner, is it not, Mr. President? And thus more and more of it needs to be made out of less and less actual terror. After last week's embarrassing Internet hoax about dirty bombs at football stadiums, the one your Department of Homeland Security immediately disseminated to the public, a self-described 'former CIA operative' named Wayne Simmons cited the fiasco as, quote, 'the, and I mean the perfect example of the President's Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program, how vital they are.'
"Frank Gaffney, once a respected assistant secretary of defense and now the president of something called the Center for Security Policy, added, 'One of the things that I hope Americans take away from this is not only that they're gunning for us not just in a place like Iraq, but truly worldwide.' Of course, the 'they' to which Mr. Gaffney referred, turned out to be a lone 20-year-old grocery bagger from Wisconsin named Jake, a kid trying to one-up some other loser in an Internet game of chicken. His 'threat' referenced seven football stadiums at which dirty bombs were to be exploded yesterday. It began with the one in New York City, even though there isn't one in New York City. And though the attacks were supposed to be simultaneous, four of the games were scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and the others at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Moreover, the kid said he had posted the identical message on 40 Web sites since September. We caught him in 'merely' about six weeks, even though the only way he could have been less subtle, less stealthy, and less of a threat was if he'd bought an advertisement on the Super Bowl broadcast.
"Mr. Bush, this is the, what, 100th plot your people have revealed that turned out to be some nonsensical misunderstanding, or the fabrications of somebody hoping to talk his way off a water board in Eastern Europe? If, Mr. President, this is the kind of crack work that your new ad implies that only you and not the Democrats can do, you, sir, need to pull over and ask for directions.
"The real question, of course, Mr. Bush, is why did your Department of Homeland Security even release that information in the first place? It was never a serious threat. Even the first news accounts quoted a Homeland spokesman as admitting 'strong skepticism,' the kind of strong skepticism which most government agencies address before telling the public, not afterwards. So that leaves two options, Mr. President. The first option: You and your Department of Homeland Security don't have the slightest idea what you're doing. Thus, contrary to your flip-flopping between saying 'we're safe' and saying 'but we're not safe enough,' and contrary to the Vice President's swaggering pronouncements about the lack of another attack since 9/11, the last five years has been just an accident. Or there's the second option: Your political operatives leaked this nonsense for the same reason your political operatives put out that commercial -- to scare the gullible. Obviously the correct answer, Mr. Bush, is all of the above.
"There are some of us who could forgive you for trying to run your candidates on the coattails of the Grim Reaper, for reducing your party's existence to 'Death and Attacks Us.' It's cynical and barbaric. But, after all, it may be merely the natural extension of the gutter politics to which you have subscribed since you sidled over from baseball and the business world of other people's money.
"But to forgive you for terrorizing us, we would have to believe you somehow competent in keeping others from terrorizing us. Yet, last week, construction workers repairing a subway line in New York City, were cleaning out an abandoned manhole on the edge of the World Trade Center site when they stumbled on the horrific and the impossible: human remains from 9/11, bones and fragments, 80 of them, some as much as a foot long. The victims had been lying, literally in the gutter, for five years and five weeks. The families and friends of each of the 2,749 dead, who had been grimly told in May 2002 that there were no more remains to be found, were struck anew as if the terrorism of that day had just happened all over again. And over the weekend, they have found still more remains. And now this week will be spent looking in places that should have already been looked at a thousand times five years ago.
"For all the victims in New York, Mr. Bush, the living and the dead, it is a touch of 9/11 all over again. And the mayor of this city, who called off the search four-and-a-half years ago, is a Republican. The governor of this state with whom he conferred is a Republican. The House of Representatives, Republican. The Senate, Republican. The President, Republican. And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism? You can't even recover our dead from the battlefield, the battlefield in an American city, when we've given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!
"While signing a Military Commissions Act so monstrous that it has now been criticized by even the John Birch Society, you told us, Mr. Bush, quote, 'There is nothing we can do to bring back the men and women lost on September 11, 2001. Yet we'll always honor their memory, and we will never forget the way they were taken from us.' Except, of course, for the ones who have been lying under a manhole cover for five years.
"Setting aside the fact that your government has done nothing else for those five years but pat yourselves on the back about terror, while waging pointless war on the wrong enemy in Iraq, and waging war on the cherished freedoms in America, just on this subject of counterterrorism, sir, yours is the least competent government, in time of crisis, in this country's history. 'These are the stakes,' indeed, Mr. President. You do not know what you are doing. And the commercial, the one about which Zawahiri might say, 'Hey, pretty good, we love your choice of font style'? All that need further be said is to add three words to Shakespeare. Mr. President, you and that advertisement of terror are full of sound and fury signifying, and competent at, nothing. Good night and good luck. Joe Scarborough's next."

For 2nd Night, Nets Tout 'Political Phenom'
Obama, a 'Sensation'

A night after ABC led with the supposedly "remarkable reversal" by Senator Barack Obama to think about running for President, and a full story on the NBC Nightly News, both network evening newscasts were back again with full stories Monday night on Obama the "rock star." Remarkably, given how he decides what is newsworthy, at the top of World News Charles Gibson asked: "Why does he get so much attention?" ABC's puff story for Obama -- reporter Kate Snow gushed about how "his base is growing. Even Oprah seemed to endorse him" -- followed the lead story about dour poll numbers for Republicans.

With "Overnight Sensation" on screen, NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed in his teaser: "Tonight, the overnight sensation surrounding a Senator with real star power, may have changed everything for the Democrats in the run for the White House." Williams later cited how Obama has "rocked the political world" and cued up Tim Russert with how "they say here's a guy who could actually cause excitement over American politics to break out again." Russert championed how "he's getting rock star treatment all across the country." (CBS, and transcripts for ABC and NBC, follow)

The CBS Evening News got into the act too on Monday night, with Gloria Borger touting Obama as "a certified political phenom with a best-selling book and a date with Oprah," but at least CBS didn't air a full story on Sunday night. Following Borger's profile, Katie Couric giggled to in-studio guest Mike McCurry, the former Press Secretary to Bill Clinton: "Barack Obama. Wouldn't you like to be his publicist for the last two weeks. He's generating so much excitement? Why?!"

McCurry, who appeared with former Bush Communications Director Nicole Wallace, is half of the new CBS Evening News political team.

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A Monday MRC CyberAlert item, "ABC & NBC Hail 'Remarkable' and 'Exciting' Obama Presidential Bid," recounted how excited the broadcast networks were on Sunday night over Obama:

Democratic Senator Barack Obama's admission on Meet the Press, that he's thinking about running for President, excited the press corp Sunday night with the broadcast network evening news -- at least ABC and NBC -- salivating over the prospect. "The headline out of Washington today," ABC World News anchor Dan Harris declared at the start of his newscast, "was about the 2008 presidential election. Senator Barack Obama, whose been getting an extraordinary amount of attention for a freshman lawmaker, made a remarkable reversal. After long insisting that he would not run for President, he now says he's thinking about it. This is shaking up a wide-open presidential race..." The NBC Nightly News didn't lead with Obama, but devoted a full story to it followed by discussion between anchor John Seigelthaler and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert. Reporter Dawn Fratangelo trumpeted how "a fresh new candidate with such mass appeal has some political observers already predicting the potential for the most exciting presidential race in years."

For more: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the October 23 ABC and NBC evening newscast stories on Senator Barack Obama:

# ABC's World News.

Charles Gibson's tease: "A fresh face: Barack Obama shakes up the presidential race before it even begins. He's new to politics. Why does he get so much attention?"

Gibson led with poll numbers: "A new ABC News poll finds that right now 55 percent of likely voters favor Democratic congressional candidates and among influential swing voters, 59 percent favor Democrats, only 31 percent favor Republicans. The reason? Opposition to the war in Iraq is the number one issue."

A few stories later, Gibson set up the look at Obama: "Back in this country, another major story in politics involving Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois. He is very new to the national political stage having spent less than two years in the U.S. Senate. Obama talked over the weekend about considering a run for the presidency. Now, in political circles, there's a great deal of talk about him. Here's ABC's Kate Snow."

Kate Snow: "At a Democratic rally in Arizona today, Senator Obama tried to keep the focus on 2006, but some in the crowd were already looking ahead. On Sunday, Obama gave his supporters reason to hope."
Tim Russert on Sunday's Meet the Press: "It's fair to say you're thinking about running for President in 2008?"
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), on Meet the Press: "It's fair. It is true that I have thought about it over the last several months."
Snow: "His base is growing. Even Oprah seemed to endorse him."
Oprah Winfrey, on her show with Obama and his wife as guests: "I know I don't just speak for myself. There are a lot of people who would want you to run for the presidency of the United States."
Snow: "The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer who chose to work in one of Chicago's most underprivileged areas."
Man: "I think that he's a breath of fresh air for the Democratic Party."
Woman: "I liked his honesty, and I think we need a change."
Snow: "Republican strategist Rich Galen says Democrats are searching."
Rich Galen, Republican strategist: "Democrats are looking for an alternative to Mrs. Clinton, mostly because they're not sure that she can get them across the finish line in a general election."
Obama: "Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you."
Snow: "It was his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention that put Obama on the national map. Senator Clinton cheered him on then. Today, she was equally gracious, saying, 'I think it's great that anybody thinks about whatever they want to do in the future.' Still, an Obama run would change the game."
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL): "The Clintons have invested a tremendous amount of time and energy and infrastructure within the African-American community. If Senator Obama's in the race, there's going to be a competitive vote."
Snow: "Obama's biggest handicap may be his inexperience. But with Iraq at the top of voters' concerns, that could cut both ways."
Stuart Rothenberg, The Rothenberg Political Report: "There's an up side to the fact that Senator Obama's been in Washington a relatively short time. He doesn't have the lengthy record, particularly on Iraq, that opponents can use to demonize him and attack him. He can stand, to some extent, above the fray."
Snow concluded: "There are up sides, there are down sides, but, Charlie, as every political strategist knows, as you know, a lot can change in two years. Remember all those Democrats who thought Howard Dean would make a great nominee."


# NBC Nightly News.

Brian Williams: "And with the midterm elections now 15 days away, the story that has caused a sensation tonight is about the election that's still two years off. Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama wrapped up a weeklong book tour on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday morning with remarks that rocked the political world. The story tonight from NBC's Chip Reid."

Chip Reid, in a story which also aired on MSNBC's Countdown: "From Philadelphia to Tempe, Arizona, Democratic candidates want him by their side. Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the newest and, at the moment, the brightest star in the Democratic sky. He's been on the cover of Time, Newsweek, even Men's Vogue, and now, for the first time, says he's thinking about running for President in 2008."
Tim Russert, on Meet the Press: "So it sounds as if the door has opened a bit."
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), on Meet the Press: "A bit."
Reid: "So why is he such a sensation? Political analysts say it's partly because some Democrats are unhappy with the field of candidates they already have."
Peter Hart, Democratic pollster: "Here is a person who comes across as spontaneous and genuine running against other people who may be seen as calculating and as programmed."
Reid: "That includes presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Analysts say some Democrats unhappy with her vote in favor of the Iraq War could turn to Obama, who's consistently opposed the war. Some Democrats question whether Obama has earned the right to be such a political phenomenon. After all, they say, he's been a Senator less than two years. His record of legislative accomplishments is thin, and he has little experience in foreign policy or military affairs. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page says for now Obama's personal story is overshadowing everything else."
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: "Here is a guy who embodies in many ways the American dream, and he also embodies all of America. He's white. He's black. He's got a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas."
Reid: "But Page says the smooth ride will end if he actually does run. Then, Obama will be treated like all the other candidates. And anything he's ever done, written or said will be fair game. Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol."

Williams: "With us tonight for more on all of this, our Washington Bureau Chief, moderator of Meet the Press, Tim Russert. And, Tim, about Barack Obama, they say here's a guy who could actually cause excitement over American politics to break out again. What should we know about him?"
Russert: "Brian, he's getting rock star treatment all across the country, no matter what state -- Iowa, Arizona, Pennsylvania. He's the only candidate in 2008, if he runs, who would have been against the war before it began. He is someone who believes that the '60s generation, the baby boomers, have had their time on the political stage, it's time for a new generation of leadership. His father's black, his mother's white. He has the number one bestseller. All those now, taken together, indicate that he's giving very, very serious consideration to running for President now. Why? Because it's the first time the presidency will be wide open, no incumbent, in a long time."

ABC's Shipman: Obama the 'It' Democratic
Candidate for '08

On the heels of last week's glowing reports on NBC's Today and CNN's American Morning, ABC couldn't resist jumping on the Obama-for-president bandwagon. During the 7am half hour of Monday's Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman reported on comments from Democratic Senator Barack Obama in which he expressed interest in pursing his party's nomination for President in 2008. In her introduction to Shipman's piece, GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts referred to the "red hot buzz" (generated by the mainstream media) surrounding Obama as proof that the Senator is "already a major political player." Shipman promoted Obama as the new "it" candidate among Democrats. She also highlighted flattering statements from talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who described Obama as her "favorite Senator," and political analyst Larry Sabato, who predicted that Obama has the "charisma to skyrocket" to become the preferred Democratic candidate for President.

Shipman trumpeted: "Barack Obama has become, in a matter of weeks, the new 'it' candidate for the Democrats...A recent Time magazine poll shows [Hillary] Clinton well ahead of Obama in a potential presidential race, 43 percent to 30. But the comparatively unknown Obama has shown this week, if he decides to run, he can generate a lot of buzz in a hurry."
Larry Sabato: "Obama has the charisma to skyrocket right to the head of the pack."

October 23 CyberAlert article on Obama on CNN's American Morning on Friday: www.mrc.org

October 20 CyberAlert item on the Today show swooning over Obama last Thursday: www.mrc.org

[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The full transcript of Shipman's October 23 report:

Robin Roberts: "Now to the red hot buzz about Senator Barack Obama. On Sunday, he instantly changed the presidential equation for 2008, saying that a run for the White House is not out of the question. That's a complete turnaround from earlier statements, and more proof that in just his first Senate term, this Democrat is already a major political player. Senior national correspondent Claire Shipman joins us from Washington and Claire, you can't pick up a paper this morning without reading about Barack Obama."

Claire Shipman: "You're right, Robin. It is extraordinary. I mean, the midterm elections are just two weeks away, but all of the talk is about Obama and this potential change to the political landscape for 2008. And you can bet there's another Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who's reading those headlines very closely. High profile magazine covers, a star turn on Oprah-"
Oprah Winfrey [on The Oprah Winfrey Show]: "This is my senator, my favorite Senator-"
Shipman: "And the public mash note from conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks urging him to run. And then this admission on Meet the Press."
Tim Russert: "But it's fair to say you're thinking about running for president in 2008?"
Senator Barack Obama: "It's fair, yes."
Russert: "And so, it sounds as if the door has opened a bit."
Obama: "A bit."
Shipman: "Barack Obama has become, in a matter of weeks, the new 'it' candidate for the Democrats."
Larry Sabato, UVA Center for Politics, Director: "It's a big surprise that he's this prominent this fast, but it's obvious to see why. He's as charismatic as anybody on the national scene in either party."
Shipman: "That much was obvious at Obama's keynote speech at the Democratic convention two years ago."
Obama: "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America."
Shipman: "Still, conventional wisdom had been a presidential run in 2008 for this freshman senator would just be too early. A few years ago, after all, Obama was a little-known Illinois state legislator. The Obama flames are no doubt being fanned by some Democrats searching for alternatives to Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Although Senator Clinton, campaigning for her Senate re-election over the weekend, has also been cagey about her White House intentions."
Senator Hillary Clinton: "I can't make a decision now. I have made no decision, but if that concerns any voter, they should factor that into the vote they make."
Shipman: "A recent Time magazine poll shows Clinton well ahead of Obama in a potential presidential race, 43 percent to 30. But the comparatively unknown Obama has shown this week, if he decides to run, he can generate a lot of buzz in a hurry."
Sabato: "Obama has the charisma to skyrocket right to the head of the pack."
Shipman: "And one plus of Obama's limited Senate experience, he didn't have to cast that awkward vote on the Iraq war, like so many of his colleagues. On the other hand, Robin, if he decides to run, as you know, his limited experience, limited political experience will certainly come under heavy scrutiny."
Roberts: "Yeah, the Republicans may play to that. But let me ask you, why do you think he's changed his mind and is apparently now considering a run for the White House?"
Shipman: "It is interesting. It's so different from what he said just a year ago. He and his, his advisors were saying he would not seek to run for president so early. But what's happened is, is he's campaigned around the country for other Democrats. Since he's been on his book tours, he's received such an extraordinary reaction that prominent Democrats are urging him to consider a run now, to strike while the iron is hot, Robin."

Matthews Panel Raves About 'Ridiculously
Good Looking' Obama

The media's swooning over Barack Obama continued on Chris Matthews' syndicated weekend show. Obama drew such rave reviews from the panel as: "terrific!" "hero!" and "ridiculously good looking!" However Obama wasn't the only Democrat drawing praise as Harold Ford Jr's campaign was described as "nearly flawless," but Republican George "not the brightest bulb on Broadway" Allen didn't fare as well with the critics, as his campaign was labeled "one of the stupidest campaigns that [was] ever conducted in the history of American politics."

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following are some of the move over-the-top blurbs from the panel on the October 21st, Chris Matthews Show:

Chris Matthews: "Barack Star! Could he actually go for it? Could the first-term senator from Illinois, son of Kansas and Kenya, mount the galloping horse of history and run for president now?"
Joe Klein. Time magazine: "I was in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, and another time in Iowa with him, and boy, the crowds are huge, and he's terrific! He really is really good."
Matthews: "He seemed to bring back that excitement of the Democrats."
Klein: "Yes, he's a hero!"
Klein: "He's, he's incredibly eloquent, he's really well-informed, he's very judicious in the way he speaks. He's one of the most talented politicians I've seen in 37 years of doing this."
Matthews: "This guy can stand before a crowd and make them feel magic."
Katty Kay, BBC: "And along comes somebody like Obama, who has all sorts of charisma, he is ridiculously good looking!"

For those who can stomach it, the following are more complete transcripts of the Obama and Ford hype, as well the Allen criticism:

Chris Matthews opening the show: "Barack Star! Could he actually go for it? Could the first-term senator from Illinois, son of Kansas and Kenya, mount the galloping horse of history and run for president now?"
Matthews: "First up, Barack Star! Democrats are excited the party's on track to win the House, but how about winning the White House? Barack Obama is on Time magazine's cover this week as the man who could be the next president. He brought the house down during the last Democratic National Convention."
[Clip of Barack Obama]
Matthews: "And when he went to the famous Tom Harkin steak fry in Iowa just last month, he got a great reception."
[Clip of crowd applauding Obama]
Matthews: "And just look at all the states Obama's visited over the last month. Joe."
Joe Klein: "I was in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, and another time in Iowa with him, and boy, the crowds are huge, and he's terrific! He really is really good."
Matthews, holding up Time cover story on Obama: "What is this about? Why, just describe the phenomenon of, because we're all on other theories here about who's gonna be the nominee next time. Out of nowhere we're getting covers like this one. Look at this thing. It's everywhere. You wrote this piece-"
Klein: "Yes."
Matthews: "-but it's all over the place. It's in Washingtonian, every magazine's got him on the cover. What's the hype? What's it about?"
Klein: "Well, I mean, the hype is that he's really smart and he's really good and he also isn't the kind of hyper-partisan bloviator that we've had in my sad, pathetic-"
Matthews: "Yeah."
Klein: "-baby boom generation."
Matthews: "No, no! But he seemed to bring back that excitement of the Democrats."
Klein: "Yes, he's a hero!"
Matthews: "Even when they lost, Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey. Even when they lost, the Democrats revered these guys. Those days are a long way off."
Klein: "He's, he's incredibly eloquent, he's really well-informed, he's very judicious in the way he speaks. He's one of the most talented politicians I've seen in 37 years of doing this."
Matthews: "Okay, could it be, Norah, that he's simply able to talk like a president? I'm from Philly; talk, but the fact of the matter is, the fact of the matter is, you got to go back to Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, the mayor of New York, Jesse Jackson in his prime, for a great orator."
Norah O'Donnell, NBC News: "Yes."
Matthews: "This guy can stand before a crowd and make them feel magic."
O'Donnell: "Go back and read his speech there before the Democratic National Convention. Of course, there is that line, 'there is no red America, there is no blue America, there is only the United States of America.' And I can say that, and it's, what a great line! And you know, it's interesting. It kind of, kind of tracks with the language we've heard from President Bill Clinton lately about the common good. There's this theme, and maybe it will appeal to the American people about a nonpartisan, a more nonpartisan and more unified. 'Let's spend less time talking about our differences and spend more time talking about what unifies us.' That's a very powerful message that he can use if he wants to run."
Katty Kay: "And it comes particularly, doesn't it, at a moment when we've had this terrible stagnation in American politics. Look at what's happening in Congress here in Washington. Nothing is getting done. There's been a huge amount of infighting, and people are desperate for some sort of real leadership. And along comes somebody like Obama, who has all sorts of charisma, he is ridiculously good looking, I mean..."
O'Donnell: "Wow, Katty!"
[crosstalk]
Matthews: "Okay, okay. Now that we're finished with the bobby-soxers here, let's ask does Obama have a better shot at being president than Hillary Clinton? When Maureen Dowd was on the show two weeks ago, she shared an intriguing thought:"
[Maureen Dowd: "Our great political reporter, John Apple, died this week, and he was very up on politics right until the very end, and I will give you a prediction from him, which is that it will be easier in 2008 for a black to become president than a woman, he thinks, because women have a track record of failure in this regard. And he thinks that Colin Powell kind of got the American psyche ready for the idea."]
Matthews: "Well, Johnny Apple of The New York Times is my favorite political reporter. He also was good at other things like food and stuff like that."
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: "That's right."
Matthews: "Clarence."
Page: "That's right, that's right."
Matthews: "Clarence, you're the go-to guy for reality check, okay?"
Page: "Thank you, thank you. As always, right?"
Matthews: "Reality check, and this is such a tough question. The country that's so divided and race and things like that, and even gender. Is it more opportune for him this time than it is for Hillary?"
Page: "Well, my wife certainly thinks so. She agrees with Maureen Dowd on this and about everything else. But we would talk about this at home. I'm not so sure. I think, actually, it's a great time for a woman or a black candidate, but, but Johnny Apple may very well be right, simply because of circumstances right now. Hillary Clinton carries political baggage with her right now, and as somebody said, 'Obama hasn't even got a carry-on.' Was that in your piece?"
Klein: "No. It wasn't in mine, but it was a good line."
Page: "Yeah, he's, it's a great line, absolutely."
Matthews: "She's got a trunk."
Kay: "To what extent, also, does it make a difference that he is from Africa? He's not an African-American, I think it was you said that..."
Matthews: "Okay let's, let's get to something a little less subtle that I think's a big part of this, perhaps. We have in an American life, a deficit of elected African-American leaders. We have no governors, haven't had except for Virginia, in the whole time going back ever. We have like one senator-him. So for someone to run for president and win as an African-American, however that is a reality, has to leapfrog all this history. Is it possible, the big question, Joe, is it possible that there's this weird new exception out there of the superstar? Oprah, of course. Tiger Woods, I think Michael Jordan, I think Bill Cosby, even. These people who seem to be so big, like Barbra Streisand was, that they go beyond the, the old terms. Is it possible that he can transcend the history of a country?"
Page: "Well, the amazing thing..."
Matthews: "I got to hear from Clarence first here, because this is reality here."
Page: "Well, well you know, I think, for one thing, Colin Powell rose to prominence, rocketed to prominence around the time of the O.J. Simpson verdict, right after the L.A. riots, around the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. The country looked for a candidate who would embody the come-together spirit of the American dream. Obama came along, you know, I was there in that hall, you were, too, when he gave that speech at the Democratic Convention. Hours before he gave the speech, Democrats were excited. And you know why? Because they finally got a black face for the party who's not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, let's be frank."
Matthews: "Yeah."
Kay: "Who doesn't have the anger."
Page: "That's how this thing got launched. And-"
Matthews: "You wrote a-"
Page: "-it went beyond the party, because the whole country right now is looking for that kind of a come-together kind of figure."
Matthews: "Okay. This whole thing in American history between blacks and whites, this story ain't over yet. It's about fear and resentment. It's asymmetric. One side feels one thing; the other side feels another. And it ends up being just trouble. Can this guy, you, you say in your article, talk about what you said about how he doesn't seem angry."
Klein: " Well, the African-American essayist Shelby Steele said to me that the reason that whites are so receptive to him is gratitude. He is an African-American who doesn't grind their noses in racial guilt. And what you see when you're out there is fascinating. The black folks who come up to shake his hand are very proud, and but there's a lot of those 'be careful, now' looks. You know, 'be worried.'"
Matthews: "What're they afraid of?"
Page: "We're like that, we're paranoid..."
Matthews: "But people are curious what you mean."
Klein: "No, but look, Alma Powell, Colin Powell's wife, was really afraid that he would be assassinated."
Matthews: "I know that."
Klein: "I mean, there is real craziness out there. On the other hand, when you see the whites approaching Barack Obama, you know, they're ridiculous. They're, you know, they're practically salivating. It's unbelievable. They're all a twitter, you know? They love the guy."
O'Donnell: "But he has a great American story about the melting pot that is America."
Matthews: "Yeah."
O'Donnell: "And what he talks about, essentially, is a meritocracy, which we all find so wonderful about America. Can you succeed no matter what your color, race, you know, gender, whatever it may be in this country. And he says, 'nowhere else in the, you know, in the world could my story of success.' He was editor of the Harvard Law Review. Will his message sort of resonate in 2008? Will the country be ready to embrace him?' I think his biggest challenge is experience. Experience. And we talked about this, too. We're talking about-"
Matthews: "Obviously, that's true, because he's just been in two years, now. Let's take a look at The New York Times. Apparently he's ringing the bells on the right as well as the left. David Brooks, one of our regulars, had a column just recently entitled, 'Run, Barack, Run!' A quote, here's what David wrote: 'The times will never again so completely require the gifts that he, Barack Obama possesses. Whether you're liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.' Katty, I don't quite get what David's thinking here. He didn't say he'd vote for him; she just said he'd....so I'm not sure what that means."
Kay: "David is pointing out that this a man that understands the rest of the world at a time when America needs to understand the rest of the world. Now, unfortunately, you look back at 2004, John Kerry had to play down his international connections, the fact that he understood the world. But now America is different. They've looked at the Iraq war, they've looked at the fact that this president did not understand the world, and it's got this country into a mess. And so I think that Barack Obama could play up his global understanding."
Matthews: "Because he grew up, a large part of his life, in Indonesia. He's saw America from a distance.
Kay: "He had a period in Indonesia, and he has that Kenyan background."
Klein: "But we all have to find out how courageous he's going to be on the issues. I mean, his book, The Audacity of Hope, isn't all that audacious on the issues, and again, we spent time on this when I interviewed him."
Page: "Remember, Joe, you're a New Yorker now. Out in the Midwest, we're not so audacious..."

...

Matthews: "We're getting now to the serious questioning of this panel. Should Obama get some experience, like a lot of people say, get to be governor of Illinois, something like that, or strike while the iron is hot? We put it to the Matthews Meter, 12 of our regular panelists. Is running in '08 Obama's best chance to win the presidency? It's very close, but seven say yes, go now, it's his best chance. Five say he should wait and get some experience. Clarence, you said 'go for it.'"
Page: "Yeah, go for it. This is the moment. And it doesn't mean I think he will go for it, necessarily, but I think he's leaning more in that direction because just the momentum is pushing him that way. But this, you know, look at Colin Powell's moment in '96. Colin Powell was still a popular guy, but now he, too, has the baggage of time, and he wasn't even an office-holder in a traditional say."
Matthews: "Joe, you say that Hillary has to begin to fade before he jumps."
Klein: "Well, yeah. I think it depends on when Hillary gets in. If she gets into this race in January or February, she has to spend the whole year going to those dog-and-pony shows, you know, the candidate forums where she's up on the stage with all these dogs and cats."
Matthews: "Right."
Klein: "He can go late. He can go in September."
Matthews: "How late can he go?"
Klein: "He can go as late as right now next year."
Matthews: "Okay, I want to ask everybody now. This is the bottom line. I've warned you all about this bottom line, and you are being taped for future reference. You're in the archives. Will, a year from now, next October, Obama be a candidate for president?"
Kay: "Yes."
Page: "No."
O'Donnell: "Yes."
Klein: "No. His wife a very powerful force in this. And his family."
Matthews: "I think I'll leave the tie sit."

...

Now the Harold Ford segment:

[Clip from Harold Ford Jr. ad]
Matthews: "Welcome back. That was Harold Ford, Jr., a Democrat talking about his Christian values. Republicans have had a near-lock on the South for years now. But now it looks like Democrats running for the Senate are challenging them. Harold Ford in Tennessee, Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Jim Webb in Virginia are in tight races in red states that President Bush won big in 2004. And Norah, that's the challenge. Look at the map. How they doing? What do they've they got to offer down there?"
O'Donnell: "Well, if Democrats want to retake the Senate, they're going to have to do well in these Southern states, just like a Democrat who wants to win in 2008 will have to play well in the South. What Harold Ford has done, which many experts say, is run a nearly flawless campaign talking about God, essentially. At the end of his campaign speech, he says everyone, he asks everyone to please vote for me, and then he says, 'and please pray for me.' He's walking around Tennessee with one side of a little baseball card, essentially has his face. On the back, it has the 10 Commandments. Why does he need to do that? Because in Tennessee-"
Matthews: "Which are his favorites? I've never seen anything like this before."
O'Donnell: "Why's he doing that in a state like Tennessee? Tennessee, of course, is a Southern state, but it doesn't have a large black population, so he has to appeal to Christian conservatives, or white Christians, in order to vote for him to become the first black senator in the South since Reconstruction. That's why his election is historic in many ways, and that's why he's campaigning as a conservative. He's against abortion, he's against flag burning-"
Matthews: "He's pretty hawkish, too."
O'Donnell: "He's very hawkish on issues."
Klein: "Hawkish."
O'Donnell: "He stood next to Bush on the, on the Iraq war."
Klein: "Immigration is a big one."
O'Donnell: "Immigration, exactly. He has criticized Bob Corker, his opponent, for hiring illegal aliens because he's in the construction business."
Matthews: "Well, that'll help him with both black and white communities, I would bet, being tough on immigration. Let me ask you about the interesting race right down in this area, Virginia. Northern Virginia. A military guy, Jim Webb, running against George Allen. How's that look in terms of Democrats?"
Klein: "Well, I think that Allen has kind of stabilized what had been, to this point, one of the stupidest campaigns that [was] ever conducted in the history of American politics."
Matthews: "But was it an enlightening campaign? Isn't it useful for candidates to make mistakes so we can find out who they are?"
Klein: "Well, I think we already knew that George Allen was not the brightest bulb on Broadway, but now we're absolutely certain of it."

-- Brent Baker