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Sawyer: Court "Conservative" & Totenberg Warns It'll Be More So --6/28/2005


1. Sawyer: Court "Conservative" & Totenberg Warns It'll Be More So
Though many court rulings in recent terms have hardly pleased conservatives, ABC's Diane Sawyer on Monday morning referred to the "conservative composition of the Court" before NPR's Nina Totenberg, appearing on Good Morning America, warned that "it is likely that whomever President Bush appoints will be more conservative than even this very conservative Chief Justice."

2. Gibson Obsesses on Cheney's "Last Throes," Uses Poll to Counter
ABC's Charles Gibson twice raised, with Army General George Casey, Vice President Cheney's claim the Iraq insurgency is in "its last throes" before citing it a third time in putting forth a poll of the American public as some kind of relevant measure as to the situation in Iraq: "Fifty-three percent say they think" the insurgency is "holding steady, 24 percent say they think it's getting stronger -- that's 77 percent of the people who would disagree with the Vice President that this is in its last throes." Casey, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, pointed to media coverage: "What the people in the United States are seeing are these car bomb attacks, these suicide attacks and they're being fed a steady diet of that. I have no doubt that that affects their perceptions."

3. Couric Urges Bush "Move to Middle," Guest Says No Dem in Cabinet
In a discussion about President Bush's "second term slump," NBC's Katie Couric on Monday morning found a problem in Bush not moving enough to the left, asking historian Richard Beschloss: "Traditionally in second terms aren't Presidents more conciliatory? Don't they move to the middle?" Beschloss agreed, but suggested that Bush would argue that though he barely won in 2000, "'I governed as if I had 60 percent. I didn't go to the middle, I didn't put Democrats in my cabinet, I got a lot of things done.' That's what his experience is and I think he's trying to do the same thing." But Bush did put a Democrat into his cabinet in 2001, one who remains there: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

4. At Commencement, Horror Novelist Stephen King Denounces Bush
Delivering the commencement address at the University of Maine at Orono in May, which C-SPAN aired on Saturday night, horror novelist Stephen King urged the graduates to "give away a dime of every dollar you make," arguing, to applause, that "if everybody did it, maybe we could make Mr. Bush let go of the weapons he loves so well and give back some of the money that he spends on them to the farmers, the unwed mothers and the working poor." King also enthused over how Maine has "a Democratic Governor who's cleaner than a whistle and works like a demon all day" for a state which "voted for Kerry in the last presidential election" and has "two Republican Senators -- two female Republican Senators, and by today's standards, they're both pretty moderate." He saw that voting pattern as a tribute to how those in Maine "elect sane, responsible politicians, which probably says more about the electorate than it does about them."


Sawyer: Court "Conservative" & Totenberg
Warns It'll Be More So

Good Morning America Though many court rulings in recent terms have hardly pleased conservatives, ABC's Diane Sawyer on Monday morning referred to the "conservative composition of the Court" before NPR's Nina Totenberg, appearing on Good Morning America, warned that "it is likely that whomever President Bush appoints will be more conservative than even this very conservative Chief Justice."

As for the Supreme Court's "conservative composition," only three of the nine justices (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) could be considered consistent conservatives with four justices being consistent liberals (Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter) and two (O'Conner and Kennedy) going to the left on a lot key cases.

Near the top of the June 27 show, with expectations that Chief Justice William Rehnquist would resign in a few hours, Sawyer asked Totenberg about the implications of a Rehnquist departure:
"But in fact, it's not going to change the conservative composition of the Court presumably, so what does it mean practically for all of us at home?"
From in front of the Supreme Court, Totenberg responded, as taken down by the MRC's Jessica Barnes: "Well, this is the first vacancy on the Court in eleven years. It's the longest time that we've had a court without a vacancy since the early 1800s, and it is likely that whomever President Bush appoints will be more conservative than even this very conservative Chief Justice and there is, of course, the possibility that there'll be another retirement, which would affect the entire balance, ideological balance of the Court, and of course whoever serves as Chief, when this Chief Justice retires, will very likely be in that job for the next three decades if the President picks somebody in his early 50s."

Gibson Obsesses on Cheney's "Last Throes,"
Uses Poll to Counter

Good Morning America ABC's Charles Gibson twice raised, with Army General George Casey, Vice President Cheney's claim the Iraq insurgency is in "its last throes" before citing it a third time in putting forth a poll of the American public as some kind of relevant measure as to the situation in Iraq: "Fifty-three percent say they think" the insurgency is "holding steady, 24 percent say they think it's getting stronger -- that's 77 percent of the people who would disagree with the Vice President that this is in its last throes." Casey, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, pointed to media coverage: "What the people in the United States are seeing are these car bomb attacks, these suicide attacks and they're being fed a steady diet of that. I have no doubt that that affects their perceptions."

Gibson set up the June 27 Good Morning America segment: "We turn now to the battles in Iraq and the battle for public opinion here in the United States. The White House and the Pentagon are coming out in force this week as poll after poll shows American support for the war at record lows. President Bush himself is going to address the nation in a major speech on Iraq tomorrow night. All this as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that the insurgency could go on another 12 years. So we turn now to the top American commander in Iraq, General George Casey."

Gibson asked: "General Casey, the Vice President says the insurgency is in its 'last throes.' General Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East, says the insurgency is 'undiminished.' Which is it?"
Gen. Casey, at the Pentagon: "What you have is an insurgency with no positive vision for Iraq, one that represents less than, even by our most pessimistic estimates, represents less than one tenth of one percent of the Iraqi population, and is basically confined to four of the 18 provinces....That said, they recognize what's at stake here as we complete the political timeline over the next course of this year."
Gibson: "The number of bombings are at a record high. Is the Vice President wrong, then, when he says it's in its last throes?"
Gen. Casey: "When you look at the overall numbers of attacks, Charlie, the overall numbers of attacks are consistent with where we were a year ago. The average attacks a week ranges between 450 and 500. There were times last year we were as high as eight or nine hundred attacks a week. So this insurgency is not nearly as capable as everyone thinks it is. In fact, the insurgents want you to think that they're more powerful than they are."
Gibson: "The perception here at home certainly is that they are holding steady or getting stronger. We have a new ABC poll that's going to be released today and we asked people do you think the insurgency is getting stronger or weaker or holding steady? Fifty-three percent say they think it's holding steady, 24 percent say they think it's getting stronger [weakening: 22 percent] -- that's 77 percent of the people who would disagree with the Vice President that this is in its last throes."
Gen. Casey: "And you're talking, that was a poll done within the United States, is that correct?"
Gibson: "Yes."
Gen. Casey: "I have no doubt. Again, what the people in the United States are seeing are these car bomb attacks, these suicide attacks and they're being fed a steady diet of that. I have no doubt that that affects their perceptions. What I will tell you is that on the ground in Iraq, Iraqis make progress every day, and on the ground in Iraq the momentum is very much more in favor of democracy than it is in favor of terror."

Couric Urges Bush "Move to Middle," Guest
Says No Dem in Cabinet

NBC Today In a discussion about President Bush's "second term slump," NBC's Katie Couric on Monday morning found a problem in Bush not moving enough to the left, asking historian Richard Beschloss: "Traditionally in second terms aren't Presidents more conciliatory? Don't they move to the middle?" Beschloss agreed, but suggested that Bush would argue that though he barely won in 2000, "'I governed as if I had 60 percent. I didn't go to the middle, I didn't put Democrats in my cabinet, I got a lot of things done.' That's what his experience is and I think he's trying to do the same thing." But Bush did put a Democrat into his cabinet in 2001, one who remains there: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

Couric's first few questions to Beschloss, who was in-studio, as noted by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:

-- Couric: "Meanwhile Michael Beschloss is a presidential historian as well as an NBC News analyst. Hey Michael how are you? Nice to see you....Okay as we heard in Kelly's piece Michael, President Bush has been running into several roadblocks in a lot of different areas. Public support is down, support from his own party is starting to decline. What is going on here?"

-- Couric: "Well I know that over the weekend Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the insurgency could last 12 years, we heard Richard Myers say a few weeks ago, it could be four to seven years. So obviously U.S. troops seem to be in this for the long haul. The President will be delivering [an] address I understand about this tomorrow night. How can he rally the public behind this increasingly unpopular war? I mean where is his wiggle room on this?"

-- Couric then got to her concern about Bush being too conservative: "And in fact it seems like not only members of his own party are starting to defect but some people say, some of his current positions are actually helping the Democrats. In a positive way the President is steadfast and firm but a negative assessment is he's inflexible and too much of an ideologue. Since you're a presidential historian, traditionally in second terms aren't Presidents more conciliatory? Don't they move to the middle?"
Beschloss: "They usually do because they have to but in Bush's case he would say, 'What's worked for me is when I dig in my heels. 2000 I was elected by the narrowest margin that one could imagine yet I governed as if I had 60 percent. I didn't go to the middle, I didn't put Democrats in my cabinet, I got a lot of things done.' That's what his experience is and I think he's trying to do the same thing."

Instead of correcting Beschloss' error about Bush's cabinet, Couric moved on to Bush's potential pick for the Supreme Court.

The Department of Transportation's bio of Democrat Mineta: www.dot.gov

DOT's page of brief bios of all its secretaries provides this look at Mineta: "In the wake of the Election of 2000, President-elect George W. Bush (R) reached out to the Democratic Party for his nominee to head DOT. After the closest race in 112 years, the issue hung on the contested vote in Florida, with electoral votes that could have swung the election to either Bush or his Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore. Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially certified the Republican standard bearer's victory, Bush chose former San Jose Mayor and Representative Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA), a Japanese-American who, along with his family, had been held in a relocation camp during World War II. Mineta, age sixty-nine, was, when Bush nominated him to be the nation's fourteenth Secretary of Transportation, Bill Clinton's Secretary of Commerce. As such, he would become the first Asian-Pacific American to serve as Secretary of Transportation" and the first DOT Secretary to have served in a previous Cabinet position...."

That's online at: dotlibrary.dot.gov

At Commencement, Horror Novelist Stephen
King Denounces Bush

Delivering the commencement address at the University of Maine at Orono in May, which C-SPAN aired on Saturday night, horror novelist Stephen King urged the graduates to "give away a dime of every dollar you make," arguing, to applause, that "if everybody did it, maybe we could make Mr. Bush let go of the weapons he loves so well and give back some of the money that he spends on them to the farmers, the unwed mothers and the working poor." King also enthused over how Maine has "a Democratic Governor who's cleaner than a whistle and works like a demon all day" for a state which "voted for Kerry in the last presidential election" and has "two Republican Senators -- two female Republican Senators, and by today's standards, they're both pretty moderate." He saw that voting pattern as a tribute to how those in Maine "elect sane, responsible politicians, which probably says more about the electorate than it does about them."

King is a Maine resident and graduate of the University of Maine.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided some excerpts from King's May 7 remarks, which C-SPAN showed on Saturday, June 25, in which King recited ten pieces of advice:
"Six: Give away a dime of every dollar you make. Why not? If you don't give it, the government's just going to take it back. You think you can't afford to give away one lousy, thin dime out of every dollar? If you think you can't, just look at the taxes you pay on every gallon of gas you buy. If you think you can't, look at all the sick, unhappy, uneducated people standing outside the fence America has constructed around herself -- people who only want a little something for themselves and their families, for their children. Very few of them are suicide bombers. Very few of them are Mr. Bush's enemies of freedom, whether he believes that or not. They might become [interrupted by applause] they might become enemies of freedom, but right now all they want is a little something to get by on, a little chance at the kind of joy most of you are feeling right now. A dime out of every dollar.
"And here's a secret I learned six summers ago lying in a ditch beside the road covered in my own blood and thinking that I was going to die: You go out broke. Everything's on loan anyway. You're not an owner. You're only a steward. So pass some of it on. You may not have much now, but you're going to have a lot. And when you do, remember the ones who don't have anything. A dime out of every dollar. If everybody did it, maybe we could make Mr. Bush let go of the weapons he loves so well and give back some of the money [applause] and give back some of the money that he spends on them to the farmers, the unwed mothers and the working poor. [applause]
"Seven: Stay in Maine. Eight. [applause] Eight: Stay in Maine. Nine: Stay in Maine. And ten: Stay in Maine. [applause] This isn't boosterism. I don't belong to the Elks, the Lions, or any organization where men wear funny hats on Thursday night. I don't do Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce, and I'm not even running for anything, but speaking politically, how about this? We've got a Democratic governor who's cleaner than a whistle and works like a demon all day long because he actually believes in Maine and Maine people. We voted for Kerry in the last presidential election, but we've got two Republican Senators -- two female Republican Senators, and by today's standards, they're both pretty moderate. In Maine, we elect sane, responsible politicians, which probably says more about the electorate than it does about them."

For the text of King's prepared remarks, video of his address and a picture of him: www.umaine.edu

-- Brent Baker