Clinton's Greatness "Crippled"; Afghanistan = Vietnam; Bill Simon "Anti-Everything"; Florida Vote More Damaging Than Terrorism
1) "There really was a conspiracy against Bill
Clinton on the right," former Newsweek reporter Joe Klein told Tim
Russert. Klein claimed that "Republican extremists," who
bordered "on being unpatriotic," would have inhibited
Clinton's reaction to the September 11 attacks: "Clinton's
ability to move us through a war or a crisis would have been crippled by
that kind of unrelenting opposition."
2) Vietnam analogy raised by New York Times reporter Rick
Berke. On PBS Friday night, he asserted: "Not long ago, we were
practically declaring victory. How did we suddenly end up with troops on
the ground, and are we stuck there? Is this, dare I mention,
3) Rick Berke of the New York Times eagerly highlighted
how "Gray Davis is just salivating at the opportunity to paint"
the "very conservative" California Republican gubernatorial
candidate Bill Simon "as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun
control, anti-everything, which just doesn't sit well with the
4) Time magazine's Jack White aligned himself with
Senate liberals. On ABC's This Week he denounced the judicial nomination
of Charles Pickering: "I think Judge Pickering is a terrible choice
and that he should not be confirmed."
5) Actress/comedian Sandra Bernhard: "I think Bush is
amateurish and self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting. I think
everybody is covering their [posteriors] with the Enron scandal and it was
very convenient that Sept. 11 came along to deflect the fact that they
should never have been in the White House in the first place. What
happened in the election was completely corrupt."
6) Actor Alec Baldwin claimed the Florida recount
"has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could
do." He argued that the Bush team's talk about a "long
war" is a "euphemism" for how the "moratorium on
criticizing the government must be extended...beyond the 2002
election." In 1998 Baldwin urged: "If we were in other
countries, we would all right now, all of us together, all of us together
would go down to Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death!"
Newsweek Senior Writer Joe Klein, whose book, The Natural: The
Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, was described by CNN's Aaron
Brown as "very balanced," told Tim Russert on CNBC that
"there really was a conspiracy against Bill Clinton on the
right" and that "Republican extremists," who bordered
"on being unpatriotic," would have inhibited President
Clinton's ability to have dealt with the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Klein contended: "Clinton's ability to move us through a war or a
crisis would have been crippled by that kind of unrelenting
On Russert's Saturday night CNBC show Klein,
who is now with the New Yorker, maintained that "50, 75 years out
from now I think that we in the media and the Republicans are going to be
judged every bit as harshly as Bill Clinton for creating the atmosphere
where things got so out of control in the '90s."
Claiming that Clinton would have replaced the
incompetent Louis Freeh as FBI Director if not for fear of it being seen
as a move related to he Lewinsky scandal, Klein lamented: "We might
have had a more successful efforts against Osama bin Laden but for Monica
As for the suggestion Clinton should have been
held accountable for lying about Monica Lewinsky, Klein equated
Clinton's dissembling with how FDR lied about national security policy
in reaction to Nazi Germany invading other nations: "So Franklin
Roosevelt too, huh? You think he should have been penalized for lying
For more on Aaron Brown's CNN interview with
Klein and Klein's point about the FBI, refer to the March 8 CyberAlert: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020308.asp#2
Klein propounded on the March 9 Tim Russert:
"The '90s will be remembered more for the ferocity of their
prosecutions than for the severity of their crimes. I think we all went a
little bit berserk during that time. I think that there really was a
conspiracy against Bill Clinton on the right. And I think that, you know,
he did some terrible things. But there is such a thing as balance and, you
know, I was accused in the Washington Post of trying to defend Bill
Clinton and James Carville said to me, 'all you have to do is say is one
sentence in favor of Bill Clinton and you're an apologist.' It
shouldn't be like that. It shouldn't be like that. We should be able
to acknowledge the fact that he made life a lot better for a lot of people
in this country."
suggested: "And yet many people will say, if he's the President of
the United States, the chief law enforcement officer, and he breaks the
law he should be penalized."
retorted: "So Franklin Roosevelt too, huh? You think he should have
been penalized for lying about lend-lease?"
Russert wondered if Klein thought Bill Clinton
would have reacted as "vigorously and effectively" to the
September 11th attacks as have President Bush and his cabinet. Klein
argued that conservatives wouldn't have let him:
the reasons why it would have been much more difficult for him is that the
Democrats last fall gave Bush weeks and weeks to prepare his plan and to
execute it. Bill Clinton would have never gotten that space from the
Republicans. The next day, two days later they would have been screaming,
'Mr. President, why aren't we attacking in Afghanistan? Why aren't
we going after Osama bin Laden?' And he would have responded, and he
would have responded, I think, too quickly and in a not well thought
through way, which I think is a real sad commentary. And I hate to say
this because you and I both know very many honorable Republicans, but the
behavior of the Republican extremists in the '90s, who did not accept
his legitimacy from day one, borders on being unpatriotic. You cannot run
a country in a circumstance like that. You just can't. Democracy
suffers. And therefore Clinton's ability to move us through a war or a
crisis would have been crippled by that kind of unrelenting
Will any of those of those on the left, who
have attacked conservatives for serving as "patriotism police"
since September 11, rebuke Klein for impugning conservatives as
"unpatriotic" for criticizing Bill Clinton?
battle goes badly for U.S. forces and New York Times reporter Rick Berke
immediately thought of Vietnam and a NPR reporter to read great meaning
into a slip of he tongue by General Tommy Franks who used the word
"Vietnam" instead of Afghanistan.
Friday night on PBS's Washington Week, Berke
asked Gjelten: "Tom, not long ago, we were practically declaring
victory. How did we suddenly end up with troops on the ground, and are we
stuck there? Is this, dare I mention, Vietnam?"
responded, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, by highlighting a
slip of the tongue: "Well, it's interesting, Rick. You can mention
Vietnam because you would not be the first one to mention Vietnam. First
of all, General Franks in briefing about this operation this week had a
sort of a slip of the tongue and mentioned, 'I'd like to thank all the
people serving in Vietnam.' But not just him, the commanding general of
the 101st Airborne Division, which is the, one of the two big divisions
involved in this operation, said that his troops have not been involved in
as heavy and intense infantry combat since Vietnam.
that's what makes this really notable. And, you know, we, in Kosovo, we
fought from 16,000 feet. Even in the early stages of this war, we fought
using mostly Special Forces and Afghan allies. But what happened,
apparently, in this case is that because this was possibly a last stand,
U.S. commanders wanted to make really sure that the al-Qaeda didn't get
away, and in the end they trusted American soldiers more. That's sort of
the tactical thing. The symbolic thing is I think that they wanted to
emphasize that for all this idea that we're risk averse and we're not
going to let soldiers get, take heavy casualties, they're willing to
send in old-fashioned infantry troops, light infantry troops. These are
guys that basically fight with the weapons they carry in. And I think
there was a symbolic importance to making that stand."
Davis is just salivating at the opportunity to paint" the "very
conservative" California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill
Simon "as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun control,
anti-everything, which just doesn't sit well with the California
electorate." So argued New York Times reporter Rick Berke Friday
night on PBS.
Gebe Martinez of Congressional Quarterly piled
on: "And isn't that also, I mean, there's a history here that
every time the Republicans have nominated a conservative, the Democrats
have won because the state is moderate."
Or so most journalists assume. And probably
On the March 8 Washington Week, host Gwen
Ifill set up a segment on the California primary: "Well, moving on to
more politics, leave it to California to bring us back to the kind of
politics where the winners and the losers are clear. This week's
Republican primary elevated a little known conservative businessman and
derailed the White House-backed candidacy of the well-known former mayor
of Los Angeles. So the White House bet on the wrong horse. What difference
does that make, Rick?"
Berke maintained that a conservative cannot
win a general election: "It makes a big difference, Gwen. It's not
just egg on the face of the White House or the face of the President or
whoever is over there. It's also, it was very important for the White
House to have a candidate that they thought could win in November because
California is largely Democratic state. Their only hope was to have a
candidate who they saw as more of a moderate, who could appeal to other
segments of the base beyond the Republican conservative base.
Gray Davis essentially picked his own opponent. Gray Davis, the governor,
spent $10 million in ads attacking Dick Riordan, who was the moderate in
the race. He lost to the surprise of the White House, to the surprise of
even Gray Davis himself who told me he thought he was just going to rough
him up, he didn't think that this would be as successful as it was. So
now they're left, the Republicans, with a candidate who is a political
neophyte, Bill Simon, never run for office before, has no political
experience, and is very conservative. And Gray Davis is just salivating at
the opportunity to paint him as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun
control, anti-everything, which just doesn't sit well with the
of Congressional Quarterly: "And isn't that also, I mean, there's
a history here that every time the Republicans have nominated a
conservative, the Democrats have won because the state is moderate."
"The state is moderate, and that's going to be a problem. I think
what the White House is hoping now, the President is trying to make amends
and say, you know, we're going to back you, Bill Simon, he's gonna
come in and make appearances for him."
"The President is."
"The President is. Giuliani is an old friend of Simon's. He's
going to come in and make appearances. Giuliani's going to put his arm
around Simon and say this guy is not as right-wing as you think. But the
question is, is that gonna be enough?"
Does he mean "enough" to overcome
the media's distorted characterization of Simon as symbolized by
Berke's eagerness to paint Simon as "anti-everything"?
national correspondent Jack White on the list of liberals who oppose the
judicial nomination of Charles Pickering.
Appearing during the roundtable portion of
Sunday's This Week on ABC, White opined: "I think Judge Pickering
is a terrible choice and that he should not be confirmed. I think that if
you look at if you look back at his record the civil rights organizations
have compiled that there are good questions about his commitment to equal
right and voting rights."
Enron scandal is deflecting "from the fact" that George W. Bush
should not be in the White House since "what happened in the election
was completely corrupt," semi-famous actress/comedian Sandra Bernard
complained in an interview with the Washington Post last week. Bernard
insisted: "Any thinking person who lives in the world would be
disturbed at what's going on right now. I think Bush is amateurish and
self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting."
A couple of weeks ago she declared: "The
real terrorist threats are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted
thugs." That outburst came during a February 25 chat session on
washingtonpost.com to plug her then-upcoming March 9 comedy show
appearance in Washington, DC.
To promote her gig, she talked with the
Washington Post's Lloyd Grove, author of the paper's "Reliable
In his March 8 summary of heir conversation,
Grove reminded readers of how Bernhard's "comic performances --
whether playing Robert De Niro's addled sidekick in the 1983 Martin
Scorsese movie The King of Comedy or belting out a torch song totally
naked -- tend to push the envelope beyond quirky into the genuinely weird.
As if to prove that she remains as edgy as ever, she had this to say about
President Bush and his performance post 9-11:
pretty dismal and pretty scary.'
"Of course, we suggested, Bernhard would say
that as a liberal person from New York City.
an intelligent person from America,' she riposted, and launched a heated
blast. 'I was born in Michigan and raised in Arizona, and while I do
reside in New York, I travel the country extensively. Any thinking person
who lives in the world would be disturbed at what's going on right now. I
think Bush is amateurish and self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting. I
think everybody is covering their [posteriors] with the Enron scandal and
it was very convenient that Sept. 11 came along to deflect the fact that
they should never have been in the White House in the first place. What
happened in the election was completely corrupt.'"
For Grove's mini-article in full:
For more about Bernhard's charge that Bush
represents the "real Terrorist threat," refer back to the
February 28 CyberAlert:
For a complete listing of Bernhard's TV and
movie roles, and a photo of her, check out her data recited by the
Internet Movie Database: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Bernhard,+Sandra
Alec Baldwin told Florida A&M students last Thursday that the Florida
recount outcome "has done as much damage to our country as any
terrorist attack could do." Baldwin argued: "I believe that what
happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as
terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City." The
Tallahassee Democrat reported that he also suggested that Bush
administration talk about a "long war" is a
"euphemism" for how the "moratorium on criticizing the
government must be extended longer and longer and longer -- ideally,
beyond the 2002 election."
An excerpt from the March 8 Tallahassee
Democrat story by Bill Cotterell, which James Taranto highlighted on
Friday in his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com
Florida's 2000 presidential election fiasco damaged democracy as badly
as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hurt the nation, actor Alec Baldwin said
Baldwin told a Florida A&M University audience that President Bush
and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, are hoping that a wartime "moratorium
on criticizing the government" will help Republicans in the fall
Baldwin, a New Yorker, said memories of Sept. 11 have overshadowed
public doubts about the 36-day recount of Florida presidential ballots. He
said the war makes it hard for Bush critics to remind voters of "this
other disaster that we faced in this country -- a disaster that...has done
as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do, in some
"I know that's a harsh thing to say, perhaps, but I believe that
what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as
terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City," Baldwin
said, drawing applause from the breakfast audience of about 200....
Baldwin is a board member of People for the American Way, a liberal
lobbying group that sponsored the two-day observation of the
second anniversary of a mass march on Tallahassee. The march protested the
governor's 1999 executive orders that supplanted affirmative action in
university admissions and state contracting.
As in a rally at St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church on Wednesday
night, speakers at the FAMU prayer breakfast focused more on the disputed
2000 presidential election than the One Florida protests they were
commemorating. Baldwin and other speakers warned that voters will face new
challenges this year because legislative and congressional redistricting
is changing political boundaries.
He said the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along
with the governor and other Republican leaders, are banking
on the news media and voters staying distracted by the war on terrorism.
"When Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon spokespeople say to you,
'Well, this is going to be a long war, we're going to be in Afghanistan
for the long haul,' what that euphemism means is that the moratorium on
criticizing the government must be extended longer and longer and longer -
ideally, beyond the 2002 election," Baldwin said....
END of Excerpt
For a photo of Baldwin and a rundown of his
movie and TV roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Baldwin,+Alec
Baldwin's said a lot of silly and/or liberal
things over the years, but perhaps his most famous mean-spirited outburst
occurred back in December of 1998, during the House impeachment
proceedings, when he went on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and
let loose: "If we were in other countries, we would all right now,
all of us together, [starts to shout] all of us together would go down to
Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death!...We would stone Henry
Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we'd kill their wives
and their children."
Long time CyberAlert readers should be quite
familiar with this incident, which led NBC to promise to never re-run the
particular show. But since I know many current readers were not getting
CyberAlert back in 1998 (tsk, tsk), below is a transcript of the exchange
on the December 11, 1998 Late Night with Conan O'Brien during which
Baldwin advocated some small-scale terrorism against Bill Clinton's
O'Brien: "Before we leave, I gotta ask
you. It's no secret that you are very political. You are a very
political person. It's no secret that you have actually had some
associations with the Clintons. That you're a liberal man and I thought
you know today, this is a historic day and you're one of the most
politically active actors out there. What do you think?"
"I was in Africa. I go to Africa. I mean ladies and gentlemen I am in
Africa. For three months I am in the bush and I come back. I come back
here and I come back to what? I mean what is happening right now as we
speak? Right now the Judiciary Committee,
the President has an approval rating of 68 percent. The President is very
popular and things are going pretty good and they are voting to impeach
the President. They voted on one article of impeachment already. And I
come back from Africa to stained dresses and cigars and this and
impeachment. I am thinking to myself in other countries they are laughing
at us twenty four hours a day and I'm thinking to myself if we were in
other countries, we would all right now, all of us together, [starts to
shout] all of us together would go down to Washington and we would stone
Henry Hyde to death! We would stone him to death! [crowd
cheers] Wait! Shut up! Shut up! No shut up! I'm not finished. We would
stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we'd kill
their wives and their children. We would kill their families. [stands up
screaming] What is happening in this country? What is happening? UGHHH
To view a RealPLayer clip of the above
As I recall, our tape of the show wasn't
very good and so the volume is a somewhat low, but if you turn up your
RealPlayer volume control as well as your speaker volume, you should be
able to hear it.
Judge for yourself whether you think Baldwin
was acting out a gag bit, and even if he was, whether it was more humorous
or scary. --
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