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Olbermann and Dean Suggest Impeaching Bush Cabinet Members --1/4/2007


1. Olbermann and Dean Suggest Impeaching Bush Cabinet Members
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and frequent guest John Dean discussed the possibility of a Democratic Congress moving to impeach members of President Bush's Cabinet as an alternative to actually impeaching the President or Vice President. After Dean contended that Democrats would need to "find their spine and go toe to toe" with the administration because Republicans "play hardball in a much tougher and more ruthless manner than Democrats," Olbermann brought up Dean's idea of impeaching Bush administration members: "The far end of what you suggest, obviously, would be impeachment, but the merits of that are at best arguable. I think we can probably both recall an occasion in which impeachment actually bolstered a President's popularity. But you wrote recently about impeaching not a President or a Vice President, but members of the Cabinet. How would that work? And is it a practical thing?"

2. CNN's Pelosi Puff Piece: She 'Places a Premium on Family Values'
Wednesday's American Morning on CNN featured a virtual DNC press release on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her childhood city of Baltimore. Reporter Andrea Koppel noted that the Congresswoman comes from a neighborhood "full of proud American-Italian Catholics" and that Pelosi hopes voters will recognize the fact that she "places a premium on family values." The piece featured no criticism of the soon-to-be Speaker, only praise for her "historic moment."

3. CNN Hails Harry 'Pinky' Reid: Enjoys 'People' Mag, Loves His iPod
An hour after Wednesday's American Morning delivered a puff profile of incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CNN reporter Dana Bash profiled incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and revealed some "startling" details: The Nevada Democrat's childhood nickname was "Pinky." Additionally, Reid enjoys listening to his iPod and reading "People" magazine. Unsurprisingly, Bash didn't find time to mention the various scandals swirling around Reid. (Judicial Watch recently named him the tenth most corrupt politician of 2006.) The CNN correspondent, who traveled to Reid's home of Searchlight, Nevada, began her piece by promising surprising revelations about his musical tastes (Cowboy Junkies).

4. Same Poll: 'Americans Optimistic' vs 'Americans See Doom, Gloom'
Two AP headlines on Yahoo. On December 30, "AP Poll: Americans Optimistic for 2007." On December 31, "Poll: Americans See Doom, Gloom in 2007." As James Taranto pointed out Tuesday on his "Best of the Web" compilation for OpinionJournal.com: "Guess what, folks? It's the same poll! Half of Americans polled think the glass is half-empty, while half think it's half-full. Or something like that."


Olbermann and Dean Suggest Impeaching
Bush Cabinet Members

On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and frequent guest John Dean discussed the possibility of a Democratic Congress moving to impeach members of President Bush's Cabinet as an alternative to actually impeaching the President or Vice President. After Dean contended that Democrats would need to "find their spine and go toe to toe" with the administration because Republicans "play hardball in a much tougher and more ruthless manner than Democrats," Olbermann brought up Dean's idea of impeaching Bush administration members: "The far end of what you suggest, obviously, would be impeachment, but the merits of that are at best arguable. I think we can probably both recall an occasion in which impeachment actually bolstered a President's popularity. But you wrote recently about impeaching not a President or a Vice President, but members of the Cabinet. How would that work? And is it a practical thing?"

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

After Dean argued that such an impeachment could be used to hold hearings on the President's and Vice President's possible "high crimes and misdemeanors" and "send a message across the bow" of the administration, the two then fretted that the administration might be successful at "stonewalling" an investigation, with Dean suggesting such stonewalling might compare to the Great Wall of China. Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the January 3 Countdown show on MSNBC:

Keith Olbermann: "You have written on this subject. Is it going to be difficult for the Democrats to fight fire with fire, the parties, it would seem, having radically different ideas about what constitutes fair play in politics, don't the Democrats go into something of a disadvantage if they get into a street brawl with the Republicans on all this?"
John Dean, Former Nixon White House Counsel: "I think they do. There's no question now that the parties have become so polarized, you're seeing the extreme personalities, the ones who are really in the arena. And the Republicans do play hardball in a much tougher and more ruthless manner than Democrats have been wont to do. And to deal with that, now that they have something of a take on what the voters want, they're going to have to stand up and find their spine and go toe to toe with these people, or they're not going to be back in 2008."
Olbermann: "The far end of what you're suggest, obviously, would be impeachment, but the merits of that are at best arguable. I think we can probably both recall an occasion in which impeachment actually bolstered a President's popularity. But you wrote recently about impeaching not a President or a Vice President, but members of the Cabinet. How would that work? And is it a practical thing?"
Dean: "Well, my thought was there are some very serious movements afoot throughout the country, local, working right up to state levels and in regional areas, people are very determined to try to develop an effort and a movement to get Bush and Cheney impeached. It is not going to happen. The Senate, there are not the votes to ever convict even if the House, with a simple majority, sent a bill over. So what occurred to me is there are some very good reasons to look at some of the lower level people. And you can do an impeachment just as easily against the secretary of a department or a senior White House staff person and raise the very issues that these people are privy to as well as a part of what Bush and Cheney have done that may well be high crimes and misdemeanors. This is where they should be focusing. I don't think they should exclude that possibility. It's a way to start hearings. It would send a message across the bow of this administration that the Congress is going to look seriously at the kind of conduct they're conducting."
Olbermann: "But if the administration has, as it already has, already denied the request from the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Leahy of Vermont, for two secret documents about the CIA detention and interrogation of terror suspects, if that stonewalling is already in place, would there not be stonewalling in every respect? Would there not be some contention that you can't go and impeach anything that's not spelled out line by line in the Constitution?"
Dean: "Keith, I think we're in for two years of struggle to get information, the likes of which we haven't seen since Nixon was in the White House. I think this administration is going to try to build a stone wall that is going to make the [Great] Wall of China look like a stepping stone. They're going to really build a fortress to protect themselves. Cheney has determined this is the whole way to determine the strength of a presidency is by their ability to keep their secrets, and so they're going to go to the mat on this. And I think we'll, impeachment is one way you can do it. But, of course, even Nixon himself refused to cooperate with the impeachment committee, and he would have been impeached, one of the articles, the third article, was to impeach him for failure to cooperate with the impeachment committee. So that isn't the solution either."

CNN's Pelosi Puff Piece: She 'Places
a Premium on Family Values'

Wednesday's American Morning on CNN featured a virtual DNC press release on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her childhood city of Baltimore. Reporter Andrea Koppel noted that the Congresswoman comes from a neighborhood "full of proud American-Italian Catholics" and that Pelosi hopes voters will recognize the fact that she "places a premium on family values." The piece featured no criticism of the soon-to-be Speaker, only praise for her "historic moment."

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A sample:

Andrea Koppel: "Now, as Congresswoman Pelosi walks into the history books, becoming the first female Speaker of the House, she plans to pay tribute to her Baltimore roots. Professor Matthew Crensen says the visit could help her refashion her image."
Matthew Crensen, John Hopkins professor: "That she's not just a well-dressed lady from San Francisco, who is married to a millionaire, that she came from a working-class ethnic, religious neighborhood, that she's one of them."
Koppel: "And with Democrats set to take control of Congress this week, that message, that Pelosi places a premium on family values, is one that she, and her party, hope will resonate with middle-class America..."

Earlier in the January 3 segment, Koppel noted how Pelosi has been "labeled" a liberal by Republicans. Labeled? According to the American Conservative Union, the San Francicso Democrat has a lifetime score of three: www.acuratings.org

John Roberts set up the story: "Well, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she's going to waste no time in pursuing her legislative priorities. CNN's Andrea Koppel is live on Capitol Hill with more on the first woman to ascend to the post. She's promising a 100 hours of action right out of the blocks here, isn't she?"
Koppel: "She absolutely is, John. You know, to celebrate, because this is a celebration for many of her supporters, her aides have set up, basically, several days of festivities designed to highlight the historic moment that will happen tomorrow. It will include a trip that Pelosi is going to make later this week to her hometown of Baltimore, where she'll visit the row house she used to live in, and where officials are going to rename a street after her. Long before Nancy Pelosi first ran for Congress and Republicans labeled her a liberal from San Francisco, this was her home, the gritty East Coast port city of Baltimore. Little Nancy, as she was known back then, was the youngest of six children born to Nancy and Tommy D'Alesandro, and their only girl. Lena Palmer lived just down the street."
Lena Palmer, Little Italy Resident: "Her mother was so happy when she got her. She had all boys, and she kept having children until she got Nancy."
Koppel: "The year was 1940, and Tommy D'Alesandro, a former insurance salesman, was riding high, a powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, representing Baltimore's 'Little Italy,' a tight-knit working class neighborhood of brick row houses, full of proud American-Italian Catholics."...

CNN Hails Harry 'Pinky' Reid: Enjoys
'People' Mag, Loves His iPod

An hour after Wednesday's American Morning delivered a puff profile of incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CNN reporter Dana Bash profiled incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and revealed some "startling" details: The Nevada Democrat's childhood nickname was "Pinky." Additionally, Reid enjoys listening to his iPod and reading "People" magazine. Unsurprisingly, Bash didn't find time to mention the various scandals swirling around Reid. (Judicial Watch recently named him the tenth most corrupt politician of 2006.) The CNN correspondent, who traveled to Reid's home of Searchlight, Nevada, began her piece by promising surprising revelations about his musical tastes (Cowboy Junkies).

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Dana Bash marveled: "The Senator from Nevada fights for Sin City but doesn't gamble or drink. A square-looking guy who listens to hip songs on his iPod."
[On camera: Harry Reid plays a 'Cowboy Junkies' song on his stereo]
Bash: "Cowboy Junkies!"
Reid: "You know the Cowboy Junkies?"
Bash: "And how does he keep up with music? Get this: Did I read that you're a 'People' magazine reader?"
Reid: "Yeah. I love 'People' magazine."

After being introduced by American Morning co-host John Roberts, Bash offered a number of humanizing details about Reid, including the "Pinky" revelation:
"You know, since the election, John, much of the attention has been on the House, where the first woman is going to be Speaker. But for Democrats to turn their agenda into law, that's going to depend largely on the man who will run the Senate. And as you said, Harry Reid invited us to his home in Nevada. And what you'll learn about him may surprise you. Searchlight, Nevada, a dried-up mining town, a relic of the Wild West. A truck stop 55 miles from Las Vegas. Most of the 800 residents live in trailers."
Harry Reid: "Welcome to Searchlight."
Bash: "Thank you. The one house belongs to new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, shaped and scarred in Searchlight."
Reid: "I'm a pessimist about everything in life. That way I have fewer disappointments."
Bash: "In the distance of this vast property, a mine where his father worked. Pinky, young Harry's nickname, would keep dad company."
Reid: "It was hard to making a living. And the man that my dad worked for a lot of times wouldn't pay him or would give him bad checks that would bounce."
Bash: "The memories can hurt."
Reid: "My parents both drank a lot, and I was always so glad when they were broke because they couldn't afford stuff then."

The segment continued with several personal, often painful, stories from Reid's childhood. (His father committed suicide.) These details may be informative and compelling, but doesn't it seem odd to completely leave out any mention of Reid's controversies? Bash closed the piece with some extended biographical information and co-host Roberts again brought up the Nevada Senator's fondness for People magazine:

Bash: "Harry Reid sums himself up this way-"
Reid: "Isn't Kris Kristofferson -- His song, 'He's a walking contradiction?'"
Bash: "A walking contradiction. And another thing many people don't realize about Harry Reid is that he's a Mormon. He and his Jewish-born wife converted to that religion after they got married right out of -- right out of high school. And he will be the highest-ranking Mormon in U.S. political history. He told us, John, that he's well aware of how controversial his religion is. He says people just need to understand it better."
John Roberts: "Right. And a 'People' magazine reader as well."
Bash: "Can you believe it? He says he gets five magazines. The first magazine he reads is 'People.'"
Roberts: "Well, you know, as a Time Warner property, I guess we've got to salute that."

One has to ask, would a Republican's fondness for celebrity gossip magazines be enough to engender such favorable coverage?

Same Poll: 'Americans Optimistic' vs
'Americans See Doom, Gloom'

Two AP headlines on Yahoo. On December 30, "AP Poll: Americans Optimistic for 2007." On December 31, "Poll: Americans See Doom, Gloom in 2007." As James Taranto pointed out Tuesday on his "Best of the Web" compilation for OpinionJournal.com: "Guess what, folks? It's the same poll! Half of Americans polled think the glass is half-empty, while half think it's half-full. Or something like that."

Taranto provided excerpts from the leads of the two articles. From the optimistic version:

Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.

That fits with a long-term trend suggesting that Americans are generally an optimistic lot. Polling over recent decades is replete with optimism, and with a tendency for people to feel more positively about their own situations than that of the country overall....

And from the "doom, gloom" version:

Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of another terrorist attack next year, more than five years after the Sept. 11 assault on New York and Washington. An identical percentage think it is likely that bad guys will unleash a biological or nuclear weapon elsewhere in the world.

There is plenty of gloom to accompany all of that doom.

Seventy percent of Americans predict another major natural disaster within the United States and an equal percentage expect worsening global warming. Fewer than one-third of people, or 29 percent, think it is likely that the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq....

END of Excerpts

Taranto observed: "The pessimistic version also notes that 'one in four, 25 percent, anticipates the second coming of Jesus Christ.' But if they're Christians, wouldn't that make them optimists?"

For the story headlined, "AP poll: Americans optimistic for 2007," go to: news.yahoo.com

For the article headlined, "Poll: Americans see gloom, doom in 2007," see: news.yahoo.com

For Taranto's January 2 "Best of the Web" column:
www.opinionjournal.com

-- Brent Baker