Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (February 21, 2010)

Gen. David Petraeus is up today on Meet the Press.  He is talking about the U.S. offensive in Marja.

DG: How strong is the Taliban resistance in Afghanistan?

DP: The Taliban is a little scattered now.  But they’re still quite tough.  The offensive is just part of a longer 12-18 month campaign.  Its a tough fight for certain, but the U.S. has spent the last year getting the inputs right.  (Does this imply that the Obama Admin. has been doing something right, according to the, likely, Republican Petraeus?)

The long term move is to bring into the fold marginal, employed member of the Taliban.  We are in Afghanistan to protect the U.S from attacks, by not allowing a safe-haven in the region.  And we need to

(Pakistan is on now.  Gen. Petraeus will not speak openly about Abdul Baradar’s capture and about affairs of intelligence, but willing to  saying that Pakistan is now realizing that the Pakistani affiliates of the Taliban are threatening Pakistan’s writ of governance and sovereignty.  And when prompted by DG on torture to elicit information. Petraeus is saying that we need to stay longer in the region and we need to work in a humane fashion; we need to attend to the Geneva Conventions, and we need to make sure that human rights organizations attend to our work to be fully transparent.)

(Gen. Petraeus is on hte record, as he has been before, to say that Guantanamo should be closed.  Closing it down is subject to responsible manner of moving prisoners, but the fact is beyond dispute.)

DG: What is the specific threat that Al Qaeda presents?

DP:  Al Qaeda is being diminished in teh Arabian Peninsula with the exception of Yemen.  But because Al Qaeda is adaptable network we need to keep pressure on them throughout the region

DG: Does AQ want to put up another 9/11 or a smaller bore attack

DP: AQ will try to do anything it can to attack hte homeland or any of our partners

DG: How close is Iran to a nuclear weapon

DP: Iran’s activiities have advanced no doubt, but it is still a ways off from acquiring a weapon.  The U.S and its partners have offered Iran every opportunity to turn back, so it stands against hte world in its nuclear threat.

DG: But sir, over 2 administrations, pressure has not worked.  Can a single country, the U.S or Israel hinder Iran’s nuclear program?

DP: He is hedging the issue, but is saying that the commanders on the ground are tasked to make sure that no threats come to bear on the U.S and its partners. (This is a good hedge, but he’s put out enough bait out there to signal that the U.S is vigilant.)

DG: Would you consider IRaq to be the most democratic of the 20 countries you look over in Centcom?

DP: It may be.  It is responsive to the people.  Leaders know it faces its people of March 7th.  Sure it is not a perfect democracy, but more a beaurocracy.  We know that hte process that is two-pronged and will be difficult.  The election on March 7th, selects the parliament and then they wheel and deal to select the next Prime Minister.

DG: On “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”.

DP: (His take on it is more or less procedureal)   The repeal of the policy will be based on the review and the facts on the ground as discovered by the General Counsel of hte Army.  And then the commanders on the ground will have their say.  But I supports the Secy. of Defense Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen in the policy change they are embarking on.

DG: But sir, what do you believe.  And do you think that our men and women in teh armed services care whether their comrades in arms are gay or lesbian.

DP: I don’t think they do.  And more importantly time has moved on.  The earth has revolved around the sun more than a few times.  Gen. Powell who was there was the policy was implemented has said as much.  And Gen. Petraeus supports that move.

Tim Pawlenty, the Governor of Minnesota is up next.  He’s been moving in a more nation-wide theater in (perhaps) a move to become a national GOP contender.

TP: Nothings for certain but we certainly think Obama is a one term president.

DG: But sir, you’ve been critical of the GOP.

TP: We’ve learned our lesson.  We can govern, we have a vision.  When we were in power, spending was too high,  but we can move towards solving problems.  (Pawlenty is running for president, because he is “touring the country; he is stumping for GOP candidates in 2010. And he is making all the right moves to try to run nation-wide)

DG: You put out some strong bait at the CPAC Conference.  Given the things you said, is this anyway to represent the whole country?

TP: Well, we are in a position where we are close to not being able to fulfil our obligations.  We are borrowing from sovereign funds in China and saddling our grandchildren with this debt.  We are weakening our country.  I think the country is tired of that and wants solution, etc.

DG: Is the worst over?

TP: I’m afraid of a double-dip if the private economy doesn’t grow. (What does that mean–the private economy??)

DG: Has the stimulus program worked?

TP: The stimilus bill is a transfer taking a dollar from the private sector and putting it into government.  His bill was incoherent due to the finaglings of the Senate.  We need to grow the private economy.

DG: But sir, do you disagree that the bill has put up 2 million jobs. And is that not a good thing?

TP: We appreciate every job that we get.  But the way you create jobs is to cut payroll taxes, extend Bush tax-cuts and cut capital gains taxes. (Governor Pawlenty seems to think that its okay to stand in principle against some policy and then support the consequences of that policy for electoral reasons.  This is hypocrisy. )

(When DG asked whether Pawlenty would cut benefits and spending if elected president, he said he would do teh same things as he has tried to do as governor.  Cut benefits for new enrollees in social entitlement programs, lower taxes on businesses.  Asked about what he would prioritize job creation or deficit control, he said they are akin to each other.  They are not, in times of recession, job creation necessarily increases the deficit.  I like the honesty with which he has answered that he would reduce entitlement program spending.  Though its an easy sell to his constituency, I, at least, appreciate the honesty with which he answered)

(Also when asked about terrorism, he said good progress has been made.  When asked about climate change, he said its indisputable that there is climate change.  The question is how much of it is man-made.  He is correct in that of course, but the issue is that its the increasing pace of change for which industrial action is responsible. There is no doubt about that.  At the margins we can argue about the proper numbers.  But cap and trade gets to that issue: industrial pollution.  In that sense, its a good policy.)

The Roundtable is up next.  Mike Pence, (Chair of the House GOP Congress) Chris Van Hollen, (Chair of the DCCC) E.J.Dionne and Peggy Noonan are on.

Washington is frozen, deadlocked.  What of it?

MP: Its a Democratic Congress.  Its their fault. And they have acted in a take it or leave it way.  Americans are angry at government take-over and partisanship. Because of what they’ve done, we stand to gain a majority.

CV: We have passed a lot.  Credit right-holder rights.  And we passed a lot of legislation and when the health-care bill came up.  And Jim Demint said that healthcare is his Waterloo.  And they haven’t stopped at standing pat against every one of our moves.

EJ.Dionne.  As Rahm Emmaneul said the small government wing of the GOP is diminishing.  The no-government wing of the GOP is on the ascendancy.  But the problem is really that we are now in a parliamentary system of government without parliamentary governance.  (What he means is that there’s no way to get the majority to move on their opinions.)

PN:  Its possible to have bipartisanship.  But we if Pres. Obama had come up with policies that was appealing to the GOP, then it surely would have been accepted.  (Really, then why did the GOP not vote for the Stimulus Bill, which had more than $200 billion in tax cuts. That was for the GOP)

MP: Look, even as we speak the DEM’s working in the back room to pass a bill that is completely partisan and we can’t work with that.  This is just give government moves the illegitimacy that people hate.

DG: But sir, the GOP was offered 200 billion in tax-cuts.  And you didn’t vote for it, at all.

EJD: Listen if the GOP wanted to move on healthcare they could have done it under Bush before 2006.  But they didn’t.  The Thursday summit offer Obama the chance to reassure his party to say, listen, we’ll see what the GOP has to say and then we’ll do what we need to because we need to pass something.  And E.J. Dionne wants us to think the DEM’s will pass something good. (I think the DEM’s need to figure out what needs to be done to pass something good, because the DEM’s have moved past the point of no-return on health-care.)

CVH: The status quo can’t work.  Anthem health insurance jacked up their premiums 39%.  In many states insurance premiums are going up by double digits.  This can’t work for much longer.

CVH: The GOP will not win the House.

MP: The Tea Party people can be made to align with the GOP.

~ by Faheem Haider on February 21, 2010.

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