Monday, February 06, 2006

# Posted 8:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TALK SHOW ROUND-UP: The tradition lives on. Four weeks and counting! This Sunday we had John Boehner and Arlen Specter on NBC, Pat Leahy and Jeff Sessions on PBS, and Ken Mehlman and Gen. Michael Hayden of the NSA on ABC. Let the grading begin!
John Boehner: B-. First impressions matter and Boehner sounded like just another pol. Some talking points here, some evasions there, occasional bits of expertise and moral fibre. Congress needs a hero right now and Boehner could be it if he understands what it really takes to change the game.

Arlen Specter: A-. He gave straight answers. He is going to find out if there was any justification for wiretaps that broke a law, but perhaps not the law. I just wonder if he's tough enough to challenge his own President.

Pat Leahy: C. He was headed for a 'B' until he closed out the interview by saying that "the Bush administration knew the names of the hijackers before 9/11, they did nothing on it." Check the transcript. That's actually what he said. In context. And it's apalling. But not surprising.

Jeff Sessions: B-. Straight party line. Unconvincing.

Ken Mehlman: C-. He is the Wizard of Oz, after the curtain has been pulled open. If you're a committed partisan, he must sound like a genius. No wonder he has risen to become party chairman. But listening to him just hurts, because there isn't a shred of candor.

Michael Hayden: B+. A very good showing for someone who isn't used to the spotlight and who really isn't free to speak his mind. But I can't say that he had a persuasive defense of the wire-tapping program to offer. Interestingly, David Brooks mentioned during the round-table after the Hayden interview that, according to the usual unnamed sources, what really made it impossible for the administration to go through the FISA court was that it wanted to use computers to cast a net so wide that the concept of an invidual warrant would become meaningless.
And now for the hosts:
Tim Russert: B+. Did a respectable job of running through the established list of black marks on Boehner's record, but didn't break new ground.

Bob Schieffer: B. As always.

George Stephanopoulos: B+. Ken Mehlman is just so good at talking that he is tough to handle even though he leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Stephanopoulos kept him in line and even got him to contradict his own insistence that Republicans would not politicize national security. If he had gone in for the kill, it would've been an 'A'.
See ya next week.
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Random question....

Are there any publications or working papers that either of you know (or perhaps Josh knows?) that pertain to the evolution of political "talking points" from the 19th Century (or earlier) through today? I'm not talking about political discourse in general, per se, but rather the Hardball or Crossfire type of discourse...I'm particularly interested as to how such talking points have changed/evolved as the tranparency of legislation in Congress has changed from the past few centuries. A few years ago, I was scrounging through the Rothmere library looking for any books of the sort, but to no avail...if you had any advice, pls post. Thanks!
I have come to the conclusion that you do not like Ken Mehlman.
In response to anonymous from Oxford, no, I unfortunately am not aware of any scholarship specifically on the subject of talking points. So go ahead and write the first paper on the subject. We're looking forward to it.

And, davod, your instincts are uncanny. I do not like Ken Mehlman. Although during the 2004 campaign, he was often quite effective at cutting through some of the BS put out by the Kerry campaign, all the while filling the airwaves with more of his own.
Lets all support Denmark. What better time to try Tuborg beer, Danish cheese, etc, etc?
I think you're partial to fellow Rhodes on the Sunday shows.
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