Tag Archives: Fox News Sunday

Let’s call him ‘Slippery Mitch’

In the spirit of Donald J. Trump’s knack for attaching pejorative nicknames on certain politicians, I want to hang a label on the U.S. Senate majority leader.

Let’s call him “Slippery Mitch” McConnell.

Oh, my. The fellow is hard to pin down, no matter how direct the questioning becomes. Consider what happened this morning on “Fox News Sunday.”

The program moderator Chris Wallace sought to ask McConnell whether the Senate would consider a U.S. Supreme Court nomination in 2020 if one were to become available. Why did Wallace pose the question? Because McConnell blocked then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

McConnell said the president shouldn’t be allowed to pick a justice in an election year. He prevented Garland from getting a hearing before the Senate.

But, Wallace wondered … what about 2020, when we’ll have another presidential election?

McConnell wouldn’t answer Wallace’s direct question, which was whether he would proceed with a confirmation process if Donald Trump nominated someone in 2020. McConnell then tossed out the notion that he blocked Obama’s nomination of Garland on the fact that the Senate was led by a party that differed from the president.

Wallace picked up on McConnell’s change of motivation and wanted to know if that rule still applied, given that both the Senate and the presidency could be controlled by Republicans.

McConnell still refused to answer the question, casting it as a hypothetical.

Wallace grills McConnell

And … so it goes on and on.

None of this is a surprise. Politicians by their nature are prone to slip and slide away from direct questions … which I reckon explains why the media and others are so quick to praise those rare politicians who are willing to speak directly and candidly.

“Slippery Mitch” McConnell has shown just how elusive an experienced pol can become.

Recalling another conservative press flack with fondness

Take a look at this guy. His name was Tony Snow. He was a noted conservative columnist, TV news anchor and then a White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration.

A response to an earlier piece I posted on this blog about the current press spokesman, Sean Spicer, came from a cousin of mine — a conservative as well — who remembered Snow and the “class” he brought to the White House job he held.

My family member’s remembrance spurred a memory of my own that I want to share here.

I met Tony at a National Conference of Editorial Writers conference in Phoenix. The year was 1994. We had a drink in the lounge at the hotel where all us ink-stained wretches were staying. Snow then was a syndicated columnist for the Detroit News. We chatted and shared a few memories about politicians we both knew. I regaled him with stories about the late U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks of Beaumont; Tony knew of him and his reputation as a partisan Democrat who pretty much hated Republicans.

Not long after that, Snow got a gig at the Fox News Channel that made him famous. He became host of “Fox News Sunday.”

I left Beaumont the year after meeting Tony and moved to Amarillo.

Snow then got an invitation to speak at the annual Amarillo Community Prayer Breakfast. I got wind of the invitation and got in touch with Snow. I invited him to visit us at the Globe-News, where I was working as editorial page editor.

Tony arrived and we got reacquainted. He told me he remembered our Phoenix meeting and then we chatted about current events and his assignment as “Fox News Sunday” anchor.

Then he told me something that gives Snow some relevance in the context of today’s political/media climate. He told us at the Globe-News that his best friend on the Fox News talk show was Juan Williams, a staunch liberal columnist who was a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

Tony said his goal every Sunday was to ensure that Williams and Brit Hume — another participant on the show’s weekly panel — got into an argument. He laughed heartily as he talked about how he would bait Williams and Hume into arguing over a policy disagreement.

I mention this because Snow’s broad disagreements with colleagues did not get in the way of their friendships. We hear too little of that kind of kinship these days. Adversaries become enemies, which is too bad.

Tony died of cancer in 2008 after he became press spokesman for President Bush.

Yes, I miss him, too.

CIA boss issues stern, correct warning to Trump

The time will arrive, possibly quite soon after Donald J. Trump becomes president of the United States, when the new president will ask for advice from his intelligence network.

What will he think when the spooks tell him that, oh, the Russians are about to launch an attack on Ukraine, or on the Baltic States, or on Georgia? How might he respond to reports from the CIA that Russians are killing civilians in Syria?

CIA Director John Brennan said today that Trump is treading onto some dangerous territory with his continued dismissal and disparagement of the CIA over its findings that Russian hackers sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

He needs to make peace with the intelligence professionals who work in the trenches of the CIA, of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI.


Brennan said this — among other things — on “Fox News Sunday”: “What I do find outrageous is equating intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” said Brennan, who served in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “I do take great umbrage at that, and there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”

Trump’s continual dismissal of the intelligence apparatus goes directly against traditional Republican orthodoxy, which historically has sided with the spies when questions arise about foreign threats to the nation. Indeed, Trump’s tweet tirades against the CIA have drawn pointed criticism from GOP officials as well as from Democrats.

Then we have Brennan, who served Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama weighing in with stern words of warning for the next president.

As Bloomberg News reported about Brennan’s “Fox News Sunday” appearance: Brennan admonished Trump, who’s recently suggested he might lift sanctions on Russia, “to be mindful that he doesn’t yet, I think, have a full appreciation/understanding of what the implications are of such a move” amid Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Syria and online. He added that Trump “needs to be very, very careful.”

Does the new president have an appreciation or understanding of anything having to do with national security?

This is the kind of thing that frightens the daylights out of millions of Americans.

I am one of them.

How about that? POTUS admits to ‘worst’ error


I’m going to give President Obama some high praise for doing something one doesn’t often hear from people in high office.

He has acknowledged what he says is his “worst mistake.”

What’s more, he did it in a forum that is considered hostile territory.

The president appeared on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend and told host Chris Wallace the worst mistake of his presidency was failing to plan adequately for the fall of the late Libyan dictator/tyrant/despot Moammar Gadhafi.

When do presidents do such a thing? Did Richard Nixon ever say he erred by recording those conversations in the White House; has Jimmy Carter ever said his biggest mistake was ordering the mission to rescue the Iran hostages; did George W. Bush ever acknowledge the Iraq War was a mistake?

OK, so the president didn’t take the heat for the Libya mess by himself. He heaped some blame in British Prime Minister David Cameron for being distracted at the time of Gadhafi’s downfall.

I do give Obama credit, though, for admitting to a lack of planning as the world watched the chaos unfold in Libya. The so-called “Arab Spring” went into full bloom in Tripoli as rebels took over the government, captured the dictator — and then killed him.

It got worse, of course, as the U.S. consulate in Benghazi came under attack and four Americans died in the melee. Perhaps some adequate planning could have forestalled that event, yes?

The president’s greatest triumph? Without question, he said, it was his decision to jump-start the economy with stimulus packages upon taking office. I won’t argue with him on that. The economy was in free-fall and something needed to be done quickly.

It might be, too, that the president deserves props for telling all this to a broadcast journalist employed by a media outlet known as being patently unfriendly to politicians of Obama’s particular leaning.

I’ll give some to him for that alone.

Sure, there can be some debate on “worst mistakes” of the Obama presidency. Some might rank his failure to act on Syria crossing the “red line” when it used chemical weapons; others might rank the president’s unfortunate description of the Islamic State as the “JV team.”

The Libya coup aftermath, though, surely ranks as a critical error.

It’s just rare to hear a politician actually admit to making such a mistake.


Welcome to politics, Dr. Carson

Ben Carson is a famed neurosurgeon.

He gave up that profession and now he’s taking on another one: politician.

He’s going to learn that politicians have to be as careful with their words as surgeons have to be with their scalpels. You say the wrong thing, you’re potentially finished as a candidate.

Carson is running for the Republican presidential nomination. This morning he showed up on “Fox News Sunday” and got grilled by host Chris Wallace for some things he said about the Obama administration.


When a GOP candidate gets hammered by a Fox News host, well, the planet might be on the verge of spinning off its axis.

Wallace challenged Dr. Carson’s comparison of the Obama administration with the Nazi Third Reich.

Does he really mean that? Wallace asked.

Carson said during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror, people didn’t challenge him. Wallace asserted immediately that people are challenging President Obama all the time.

How about ending any Hitler references? It is ridiculous and insulting in the extreme to equate modern political activity with anything that was done during the Third Reich’s dozen years of existence.

I happen to admire Dr. Carson’s work and the brilliance he exudes when talking about medical procedures and his hopes for cures to deadly brain diseases and disorders. That work is a long, long way from the political rough-and-tumble he’s entering.

Careless and overblown statements do have a way of lingering and biting the speaker of those words where he doesn’t want to be bitten.

Fiorina as next president?

Carly Fiorina says she’s highly likely to seek the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States next year.

She says “competence” is the core issue that needs to be discussed.

Interesting, if you think about it.


Fiorina touts her business acumen. Hmmm.

She once headed a giant company, Hewlett-Packard, managing a conglomerate with thousands of employees. Then things got a little dicey at HP. Stock value plummeted. Many of those employees were laid off.

Then the HP board decided the company wasn’t going in the direction it wanted, so it blamed the CEO. That would be Carly Fiorina. She was “forced to resign,” or terminated, or she just quit to “pursue other interests.” Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace brought that up. Her response: “We took Hewlett Packard from about $44 billion to $88 billion in six years. We quadrupled cash flow. We went from a market laggard to a market leader in every product category and every market segment.”

But, but, but … why did they let you go, Ms. Fiorina?

Fiorina is going to wait until April or May to make a probable announcement.

She’ll have to explain some of this competence stuff as she hits the trail.

Good luck with that.


Why the fixation over labels?

Conservative media continue to be fixated over the White House’s refusal to refer to the terrorists with whom we are at war as “Islamic terrorists.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson got the third degree on Fox News Sunday over that question.

His answer: Islamic State terrorists don’t deserve to be dignified by any reference to Islam.


I’ve long wondered when this silly argument is going to cease. I’m believing now that it will never end.

From my standpoint, it makes no difference if we call these monsters “Islamic terrorists,” or “violent terrorists,” or “garden-variety terrorists.” What matters — or what should matter — is what we’re doing in the field to fight these groups.

We’re stalking them. We’re killing them. We’re taking some of them prisoner. We’re subjecting them to serious interrogation.

Isn’t that enough?

However, it doesn’t seem to be among those on the right who keep insisting that the refusal to label the bad guys as “Islamic terrorists” somehow makes the fight less, well, heartfelt or sincere on our part.

I continue to believe our deep-cover agents, special operations personnel, Homeland Security and CIA analysts are doing all they can do to ensure that we avoid a repeat of the 9/11 attacks. No one anywhere can predict the level of success in avoiding another dastardly attack.

If we get hit once again, it won’t be because the White House doesn’t hang the correct label on the forces of evil with whom we are fighting a war.


Rectal feedings were 'necessary'?

Someone will have to explain to me how the practice of “rectal feeding” becomes a medical necessity.

Yet it’s a practice that Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove defended this morning on Fox News Sunday.


The term was revealed in that Senate Intelligence Committee report on the treatment of terror suspects by the Bush administration immediately after the 9/11 attacks. One of the revelations is the practice of “rectal feeding,” which Rove said this morning was a “medical necessity.” The report issued by the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic members said otherwise.

Maybe I don’t get out much, but this practice is new to me.

As I understand it, the procedure involves pureeing food and then inserting it into individuals’ rectum. This is how suspects are, um, fed by their captors. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s apparently quite a painful process. It inflicts misery on those receiving these food injections.

If the suspect is refusing to eat as a form of protest, aren’t there other ways to “feed” them? Sedation, perhaps, and an intravenous line inserted into their arm would seem to do the trick.

The Senate report suggests the procedure was meant to torture the suspects and to get them to reveal battle plans or other “actionable intelligence” to which our military and spooks could respond.

It seems to me that rectal feeding goes a good bit beyond what is acceptable.

Leave it, though, to Karl Rove to defend, as necessary, a practice that is ay beyond disgusting.


Harris-Perry issues real apology

There are non-apology apologies. You know them when you hear them.

They’re the statements where the individual seeking to atone for a mistake says this:

If I offended anyone, then I am sorry for those remarks.”

The implication, of course, is that the individual isn’t apologizing to those he or she did not offend.

The reverse of that are the real apologies, those heart-felt mea culpas that come from deep within, from the heart, or the gut. That’s what I heard Saturday from Melissa Harris-Perry, the MSNBC talk show host who took part in a discussion that got way out of hand.


The discussion was a year-end review of political events of 2013. Harris-Perry flashed a picture of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, with their grandchildren. One of the kids is an African-American infant adopted by one of the Romneys’ five sons and his wife. The panel went to great lengths over the next few moments to poke fun at the Romneys and singled out little Kieran Romney for ridicule. They were trying to make some ridiculous statement about Republicans’ outreach to the minority citizens.

The response from many circles, not just from conservatives, was ferocious. Harris-Perry was called down correctly by many pundits across the nation for the tastelessness of the segment.

She acknowledged it — all of it — Saturday morning while issuing an apology that turned tearful. And yes, the emotion sure looked real to me.

Harris-Perry did the honorable thing by going on the air to apologize. It’s been said, of course, that the more honorable thing would have been to refrain from saying those disgraceful things in the first place.

Well, we’re all human. We’re all fallible. She made a mistake. She apologized for it in its entirety without qualification.

As for Gov. Romney, he has accepted her apology and wants to move on, as he said this morning on Fox News Sunday. If it’s good enough for Mitt Romney, it’s good enough for me.