August 16, 2004

Franks & Keyes

Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition (transcript) Sunday morning hosted Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks and later Alan Keyes, among others. Here's Franks taking the fall for "Mission Accomplished:

BLITZER: We spoke the last time on "LATE EDITION" when I went down to Doha, Qatar, to Central Command, right as major combat operations were ending in Iraq, just a little bit the president went aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln, under that banner that declared "Mission accomplished."

Now you've come forward and said that was your idea for the president to do that. I want you to explain to our viewers in the United States and around the world what exactly your thinking was.

FRANKS: Absolutely. As we saw the statue of Saddam come down and we looked at what was going on in Baghdad and across Iraq at that point in time, I had a couple of interests.

One was giving the troops closure, recognizing that they had been at war for a period of time. They had done everything our nation had asked them to do. And I thought major combat operations -- which obviously is defined as no more Iraqi air force, no more Iraqi army and no more Iraqi navy -- had been completed. And so that was a piece of it.

The second piece of it was -- had a long list of nations that I thought would contribute once major combat operations were finished. And so, for sure, I asked Secretary Don Rumsfeld to talk to the president and see if we could get the president to make the statement that major combat operations had been completed. ...

So it was all his idea. Sure, I buy that. This is Franks on the Swiftboat liars:

BLITZER: What do you make of those Vietnam War veterans -- and you served during the Vietnam War -- who are going after John Kerry bitterly right now, saying he didn't deserve to get those ribbons or those medals, that he simply made up a lot of that stuff? What do you make of this whole campaign against him?

FRANKS: Well, I'm one of the country's biggest believers in the First Amendment. And I have great respect for the fellows who served in Vietnam, and if they think that there's something that they need to say, I respect that. At the same time, I believe it's possible to support one of these candidates without demeaning the other.

BLITZER: So you don't want to make any -- go beyond that, in terms of saying, for example, what Senator John McCain, who himself was a POW in Vietnam, who blasted these critics of John Kerry's Vietnam War experience by saying it's dishonest and dishonorable, the entire attack against him.

FRANKS: Oh, I think there's room for a lot of views out there, and my preference is to just avoid the hyperbole. I think we have a very smart population in this country, and I think America can decide who it wants to be its next president. ...

He said that after describing his political affiliation as Bush-leaning but independent, dancing around the question of a future political career, and saying that he hadn't decided whether or not to speak at the Republican National Convention. If he does go into politics, I'm willing to bet that this 'room for a lot of views' quote will be one people will have occasion to dust off and ambush him with.

Alan Keyes was on later in the program, and he quickly established his more-radical-than-thou credentials:

KEYES: I don't think [Obama]'s a rising star. I think he's actually a fading phony. I think that there's no correspondence between what he said at the Democratic National Convention and his actual record.

And the fact that he is somebody who totally rejects the founding principles of this country, who does not believe that we are all created equal, who takes stands on issues like abortion that are shocking to the conscience even of Democrats -- he's willing to allow living children who are fully born to be set aside to die like garbage, I mean, that kind of deep extremism, which didn't come through in his DNC speech, is what characterizes him.

And I'm not in this race to prove some stupid, silly political point. I'm in it because there is a deep challenge of principle involved in not letting somebody who has rejected the statesmanship of Lincoln represent the state of Lincoln. ...

I can't say that I know of any Democrats that argue for the practice of infanticide, but if Keyes believes there are any, it would kind of nix his statement that Obama's position shocks the conscience *even* of Democrats. But then, this learned gentleman refines our understanding of the principles of federalism that caused him to lambast Sen. Clinton:

KEYES: Well, that's because a lot of people aren't thinking through what federalism really means. But the state motto in Illinois makes it clear. It has two components, state sovereignty and national union.

To sacrifice respect for state sovereignty and true representational integrity for the sake of personal ambition and a personal agenda, as Hillary Rodham Clinton did, is wrong. I deeply condemn it.

But to be called by the Illinois state party to come and defend the principles of our national union against someone who, on a whole range of issues, rejects those principles is in fact not only to act in the interest of federalism, it is to act in the deep interests of the people of Illinois, who share with me a commitment to those principles. ...

So it's boiled down to mind reading. Clinton's motives were less pure than his, which Keyes knows because... well, I'm betting she didn't discuss the subject with him over lunch. Yes, Illinois' Republican party was in a truly desperate state when they called Keyes, but the Democratic party of New York did in fact duly nominate Clinton for her Senate candidacy at their state convention. Her two would-be challengers failed to get even 15 delegate signatures, which kind of sounds like they wanted her. Keyes goes on to describe just how lucky the people of Illinois are now that he's come to town:

KEYES: Well, I think we're going to be forming ties here. And the ties that are forged in the heat of an important battle of community deeply confirm the community of heart and principle that's involved. And I'm sure our hearts will follow those principles, which are working with the people in this state in order to achieve the outcome.

But to tell you the truth, I don't have to worry about it. The only thing my home in Maryland now gives me is a headstart, because after I get elected to the Senate, unlike some folks, I won't have to look around for real estate when I get there. ...

So the heart is in the principle, or the principle is in the heart, who can say, but it's a bonding thing. A virtual 'band of brothers' experience without all the mortal peril. He's probably thought about it deeply, or at least long enough to know that you can trick some people into thinking that you're principled if you repeat the word over and over again.

Also, unlike some people, he won't have to spend a couple months before he's sworn in looking for a place to live in the capital. I hope the people of Illinois will deliver the electoral equivalent of an encouragement to stay there as often as he likes.

Posted by natasha at August 16, 2004 10:18 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Keyes was picked to tarnish the glow of Obama. I think it definitely shows how bankrupt the Republicans are in fielding candidates that have any credibility.

Posted by: Mary at August 17, 2004 07:55 AM

Disregarding party affiliation, does anyone in Illinois actually think that some guy from Maryland should be their Senator? Would anyone in California want someone from Texas to represent them? How does Alan Keyes know what the people of Illinois want and need, and how is it that he is best suited to represent them?

There are some people in Illinois who, like Keyes, are at least as far to the right as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Sure he could pick-up some support. But I believe the Illinois State GOP picked Keyes as their guy to avoid the embarrassment of not running a candidate against Barack Obama. After all, the party already lost a kinky sex-fiend candidate. How much worse could it get?

Instead the state GOP faces the embarrassment of running a right-wing conservative, who is not only out of touch with mainstream America, but is also out of touch with the people of Illinois because heís from Maryland.

Thatís not to mention that Alan Keyes is a four time loser. He ran for President in 1996 and 2000 and was not a factor. He ran for U.S. Senate in Maryland in 1988 and in 1992. In 1988 he got 38% of the vote and in 1992 he got 29%. If his own people wonít vote for him, why should Illinois?

Iíve got money that says Obama will win the seat by double digits.

Posted by: Ken Camp at August 17, 2004 11:20 AM