Friday's CBS Early Show praised the pick of former Commerce Secretary William Daley as the new chief of staff for the Obama White House, with senior White House correspondent Bill Plante proclaiming: "While Daley has long ties to the Democratic Party, he's viewed as a centrist whose Wall Street connections should help him with the newly divided Congress."
Following Plante's report, co-host Erica Hill got reaction from former George W. Bush adviser Dan Bartlett and wondered: "As you look at this appointment of Bill Daley....coming over from Chase, he sits on a number of corporate boards. Is the message from the White House essentially not only that the White House is open for, but also open to, business this morning?" Bartlett replied: "I really think that is the clear message. If you take this, coupled with the tax compromise they made at the end of last year, it is sending an important signal."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, substitute co-host Russ Mitchell announced that "the lame duck session of Congress could hand President Obama yet another victory" with possible passage of the START nuclear arms treaty. Moments later, Mitchell declared that "The President seems to be on a hot streak."
Mitchell got analysis from Republican strategist Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Bartlett hardly offered an opposing viewpoint, as he completely agreed with Mitchell's assessment of Obama: "It's a great streak he's on. He's on a hot streak....this is a narrative now that the President can stitch together going in to the new year....they've got a lot to crow about going into the new year." The headline on-screen throughout the segment read: "Obama's Rebound?; President Scores Political Victories During Lame Duck Session."
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith noted how President Obama was on the campaign trail "in hopes of avoiding a Democratic washout," but added, "he may be getting some help from Republicans....unintentional help." Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes exclaimed: "...we've been seeing a spate of strange claims from tea party candidates in recent weeks."
As supposed evidence of those "strange claims," Cordes pointed to Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell accurately noting that the phrase "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the Constitution. Cordes remarked that O'Donnell's comment "actually drew gasps from her audience yesterday," and later concluded: "O'Donnell – who calls herself a strict constitutionalist – appeared unaware of one of the Constitution's most basic tenets."
Smith explained that Todd Palin was upset that Miller had not endorsed Sarah Palin when asked about her possible 2012 candidacy in television interviews. Smith then quoted from the email in question: "Todd reportedly sent it to Republican senate nominee Joe Miller, who Sarah Palin endorsed, and it says, quote, 'Sarah put her blank [a**] on the line for Joe and yet he can't answer a simple question, is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? I don't know if she is. Joe, please explain how this endorsement stuff works. Is it to be completely one sided?'"
Turning to CBS political analyst and Republican strategist Dan Bartlett, Smith said of Miller, "he's gone on Fox a couple of times and he hasn't really been able to say how much, you know – profess his fealty to Sarah Palin." In response, Bartlett remarked that, "you can kind of feel for Todd Palin and what he's doing," but then added: "Sarah Palin and her camp are extremely thin-skinned and if she does plan to run for president, she's going to have to get used to people like this doing things that they don't appreciate." Smith replied: "A thicker hide in order, perhaps."
Neither Smith nor Bartlett raised the ethical issue of a private email being publicized or the fact that Palin had been a victim of email-hacking in the past.
Bartlett admitted difficultly in electing Christine O'Donnell, the winner of Tuesday's Republican Senate primary in Delaware, but staunchly defended the overall impact of the movement: "...the intensity gap that we're seeing between the two parties this election cycle is mainly being fed by the tea party movement on the Republican side....The prospect of taking over the House of Representatives would not happen without this vibrant activity within the tea party."
Smith turned to his other guest, Democratic strategist Tanya Acker, and continued to stress Republican difficulties: "...as Democrats are watching this all unfold, with the rancor and derision within the Republican Party, with the tea party really catching fire out there, how – how do you view it?" Acker ranted: "...I think that more Democrats are going to be motivated to go to the polls when you hear what some of these tea party candidates are saying. I don't think most of the country wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act."
Smith directed that question to former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett, who observed: "...it's very salient going into this midterm election and I think the Republicans like the fact that the former Vice President's out there slugging away." Smith also spoke with former Democratic Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and incredulously asked: "Can an actual argument be made, though...that the Obama administration is weak on terrorism?" Ford argued: "It's hard to....under President Obama and Vice President Biden, great strides are being made all across the globe."
Ford went on to attack Cheney for daring to voice objections to Obama's handling of terrorism: "Why would Dick Cheney suggest to the country and suggest to the world that the President Obama and Vice President Biden administration are weak on terrorism?...other than to be – play cheap politics at this moment?"
Reacting to President Bush’s Monday press conference, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "Not going to get a 'job well done'...on the report card, on the final report card." That observation was prompted by Republican strategist Ed Rollins declaring: "I think to a certain extent, we have a lot to be thankful to this president for his service, but he's not going to get a ‘great job’ from the American public."
Prior to that exchange, Rollins criticized Bush for being too confident: "...you saw a lot of confidence yesterday, he always was a man that was overly confident." Smith asked: "Did you say overly confident?" Rollins elaborated: "I think he’s overly confident. I think he’s overly confident about a lot of things. I – there was no humility there yesterday when you basically talk in terms of the ‘Mission Impossible’ [Referring to ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner] sign, at the same time he can't find weapons of mass destruction...You know, you also -- forget ‘Mission Accomplished,’ he flew in a jet, he had a pilot's outfit on, it was sort of the conquering hero."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed former Bush Administration advisor Dan Bartlett about Scott McClellan’s memoir and suggested that McClellan’s harsh criticism: "...actually confirms what a lot of people have come to believe, though, about the Bush Administration, that truth was secondary to policy and politics." On Wednesday, CNN’s John Roberts made a similar observation about the book.
In a report prior to Smith’s interview with Barlett, correspondent Jim Axelrod wondered: "So why would Scott McClellan write a book bound to cut him off from so many old friends?" Axelrod answered his question by playing a clip of former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart: "It's setting the record straight, not taking the fall for things he didn't do, not looking like the patsy, but also there -- it strikes me that there's some -- there's some conviction in here that there's information that the public should have had they didn't have and somebody had to tell this story."
Was George Soros behind the publication of Scott McClellan's book? Meredith Vieira had the perfect opportunity this morning to find out—but chose to punt. The Today co-anchor certainly had the time: her much-touted exclusive interview with the author of What Happened ranged over the show's first two half-hours. But even when McClellan himself put the issue on the table—citing his publisher by name and alluding to its philosophy—Vieira failed to pursue a line of questioning that could have put matters in an explosive new light.
As MRC's Brent Baker has detailed, McClellan's publisher, PublicAffairs:
is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”Baker also notes that PublicAffairs is the publisher of no fewer than six books by Soros himself, and that McClellan's editor, Peter Osnos, who acknowledges having "worked very closely" with the author, is a liberal pundit in his own right.
Finally, Little Green Footballs has documented that there are several Perseus companies that actually include "Soros" as part of their name, as in Perseus-Soros Management, LLC.
Put it all together, and there's every reason to wonder whether Soros isn't behind McClellan's manifesto. But given the golden opportunity to pursue the matter, Meredith chose to move on. Here's the relevant exchange, which came during the second half-hour of this morning's Today.