The Spectacle Blog

Oranges Over Turkeys

By on 11.22.05 | 2:28PM

Yes, the presidential pardon of the Thanksgiving turkey dates back to President Lincoln and in its current form to President Truman. But something inside me is sympathetic to the argument forwarded by President Bartlet in a West Wing episode: that the practice is a bit absurd and constitutionally questionable.

That may explain why I favor another of today's presidential actions over the turkey pardoning. This one is more in the spirit of Thanksgiving: giving thanks for hard-won freedoms.

I send greetings to those celebrating the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution.

One year ago today, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens stood up to defend democracy in their homeland. Through great courage and determination, they showed the world that the love of liberty is stronger than the will of tyranny. Last year's revolution was a powerful example of freedom and democracy in action and an inspiration to those aspiring for freedom in their own land.

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Koppel Signs Off

By on 11.22.05 | 12:51PM

Ted Koppel hangs up his cleats at ABC tonight. But in an interview with Charlie Rose last night he hinted that he will be returning shortly to the airwaves, perhaps at HBO. Koppel prides himself on mature truth-telling, so he had no problem telling Rose that ABC gingerly showed him the door because his salary was going up and his ratings were going down. ABC wanted to throw a hail mary and expand the show to a live hour -- Koppel disclosed the trade secret that the beginning of the end for a show is the moment when executives start talking about expanding it -- but Koppel didn't want the bother and didn't want to have hang around ABC until midnight.

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If Only They’d Go Home

By on 11.22.05 | 11:29AM

Congress is home for the Thanksgiving holiday and WSJ's George Melloan says good riddance (sub. req'd): "Few sessions could surpass this year's deliberations of the 109th Congress in terms of the hours wasted on bombast and blather with so little serious accomplishment." Read the rest for a truly depressing account of how Washington's finer features and campaign finance reform have seated a wasteful permanent government.

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By on 11.22.05 | 10:45AM

North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole edged out Minnesota Republican colleague, Sen. Norm Coleman for head of the Republican Senatorial campaign committee, and Republican leaders in Washington and around the country have been underwhelmed by her performance thus far in recruiting candidates and raising money. Latest numbers show the GOP in the Senate trailing Dems and Chuck Schumer's committee by about a million bucks, something the GOP hasn't seen in almost six years.

Senate insiders chalk up the fundraising disparity to the need of Democrats to raise more money to run more campaigns, as they have to defend more seats than Republicans this cycle. But no one in Republicans circles disputes that Dole is playing way over her head, and that she has performed badly as a recruiter for Senate candidates. She has failed to upgrade candidates in Florida and Nebraska, and had little to do with the recruitment of the GOP's one star candidate, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.

Republicans will most likely hold on to the Senate, but it won't be because of anything Elizabeth Dole did.

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Joe Wilson Scandal Update

By on 11.22.05 | 10:39AM

Interesting that last night, Bob Woodward seemed to be sending out a warning to both prosecutor Fitzgerald and Libby defense counsel that neither would be happy with what he ultimately would be able to testify to in open court. This may be an attempt on his part to get everyone off his back, but we have heard this is less bravado and more fact. Woodward can help Libby's case in some areas, and hurt it in others. Fitzgerald's case is not as airtight as before, but his total case has not yet been revealed, and Woodward may have helped him in ways some folks aren't aware of.

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It’s That Bad

By on 11.22.05 | 10:12AM

It's really cool that President and Mrs. Bush were able to play tourist in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, at our expense. No sitting U.S. President before Bush ever visited Mongolia. There's a reason for that. It's called prioritization. Usually U.S. presidents in trouble at home board Air Force One and head to Beijing. That Bush felt it necessary to also visit the land that time -- and everyone else -- forgot, illustrates how bad things are for Bush at home.

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3 words for John Kerry: Pot, Kettle, Black

By on 11.22.05 | 8:39AM

John Kerry attacking Vice President Cheney for allegedly lying about pre-war intelligence is about as credible as Ted Kennedy lecturing anyone on drunk driving or the proper way to treat young waitresses.

The Junior Senator from Massachussets launched his political career by slandering the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines fighting in Vietnam. When pushed about his testimony before Congress, he has admitted that he didn't really witness any atrocities (as he testified under oath), but heard about such misconduct from other service members who heard about them from others, and so on and so on and so on. We know that the overwhelming majority of troops fighting in Vietnam were the best of their generation -- something that cannot be said of Kerry, even taking into account his military service.

To charge the President and Vice President with lying about intelligence in order to manipulate the Congress and public support to remove Saddam Hussein by force is as immoral as falsely charging one's brothers in arms with war crimes.

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We Dare Not Ignore

By on 11.22.05 | 8:08AM

There are some people whose advice we ignore at our peril. A letter to the editor to the WaPo published today, from someone in that category. Here it is in full:

"One of the most critical issues that members of Congress must address is the wisdom of setting a schedule for our continued presence in Iraq. In this regard, I would hope that they would look back to September 1983, when both houses of Congress held War Powers Act hearings on our presence in Beirut as part of a multinational force. I asked Congress then not to set a schedule for our withdrawal from war-torn Lebanon. I said, 'If the time is too short, our enemies will wait us out; if it is too long, they will drive us out.'

"My warning was ignored, and Congress passed a law that said that Marines would stay for 18 more months. That in essence told the Iranians, the Syrians, the Druze and the newly organized Hezbollah: 'Put your plans on hold for a year and a half.'

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Woodward on Wilson/Plame

By on 11.22.05 | 7:49AM

WaPo's Bob Woodward -- he of the recently-partially-revealed memories on the Plame leak mess -- has a very important data point quoted in today's paper. Woodward said:

"Remember the investigation and the allegations that people have printed about this story is that there's some vast conspiracy to slime Joe Wilson and his wife, really attack him in an ugly way that is outside the boundaries of hardball. The evidence I had, firsthand, a small piece of the puzzle I acknowledge, is that was not the case." (emphasis added).

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