Hersh on Daily Show

Saw Seymour Hersh on the Daily Show last night (replays at 10am and 7pm Eastern). Thank goodness for Jon Stewart. He put in just the right touch of levity on what otherwise was the most deadly serious seven minutes in Comedy Central history. Hersh’s new book is Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.

Stewart: …I read it, and I have to tell you sir, not funny….Do you think that it’s sticking? Do you think that any of the accusations or mistakes they have made are sticking to this administration?

Hersh: Absolutely not.

Stewart: Absolutely not? Why do you think that might be?

Hersh: Because they live in their own world. This is a president, a vice president… they don’t care what books say or the New Yorker, … , or your show…

Stewart: I hope not! (laughter)

Hersh: …or the New York Times or the Washington Post… These are guys that have their own mantra, they have their own thing. I mean, you know as far as I’m concerned, I watch ’em, I talk to people on the inside who are as concerned as you are, as I am, about these guys…

Stewart: When you say “these guys”, … , your also sort of this group in the Pentagon…sort of this “neocon” group…

Hersh: They took over the country, like a coup. Eight or nine guys came. They overran the press, the Congress, the bureaucracy. And we all fell down so easy. Now the question you have to ask…the one I don’t have an answer for…Is our democracy that fragile, that it can be taken over so quickly by people who are zealots, who are ideologues, utopians, if you will? The only problem was…you know they didn’t go into Iraq because of oil or Israel, they went in because they really believed they could go in with 10,000 American soldiers, a few bombs, a lot of American flags, Saddam would fall, a new government would come in, democracy would flow like, like ah, water out of a fountain…

Stewart: And how did that work out? (laughter)

Hersh is so right, Bush does not have to care. No one is able to hold him responsible, least not Kerry. Kerry has been a miserable failure in delivering a sharp, winning critique. Bush just laughs at him, mocks him for being indecisive, then goes for the jugular with charges of preferring a dictator to freedom and failing to support the troops in war – treason, in other words.

As an example, hear are a few quotes from Bush in Bangor, Maine one week ago (yes, I’m ashamed he came to my home town to squeal this Stalinist propaganda):

[Kerry said] well, I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it. I don’t think a lot of people speak that way in Bangor, Maine. (Applause.) They kept pressing him and he said he was proud of vote. Finally, he said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.) …

Incredibly, this week, my opponent said he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today. (Booo!)

You cannot lead the war on terror if you wilt when times are tough. (Applause.) You cannot expect the Iraqi people to stand up and do the hard work of democracy if you are pessimistic about their abilities. You cannot expect the Iraqi people to do the hard work if you say that they’d be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. (Applause.) What kind of message does it send our troops, who are risking their lives and who see firsthand the mission is hard, but know the mission is critical to our success? Mixed signals are the wrong signals. I will continue to lead with clarity, and when I say something, I’ll mean what I say. (Applause.)

Kerry’s Iraq critique is bogging down. Some of the huge issues Hersh raises – the neocon takeover & torture of prisoners, for example – are off the table. Kerry forces himself to speak in roundabout phrases. He might be understood by the small percentage of voters who have a firm grasp of history and follow events closely through journals…

But…picture Jon Stewart slumped on his desk following some footage of Kerry in a deadly interview with Diane Sawyer (from a segment in last night’s show prior to the Hersh interview). He can’t give a clear answer on whether or not the invasion of Iraq was right or wrong! That slumped reaction is what Kerry can’t help but cause. I’m worried about Kerry’s ability to win!

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