Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (April 11, 2010)

(Per usual, the comments in parentheses are parenthetical to the proceedings at hand.  As such they are my thoughts and opinions.)

Today’s broadcast of Meet the Press is packed with big heads and impressive talent.  Sen. Leahy, Sen. Sessions will be talking about the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle to fill Justice John Paul Stevens’ seat.  Secy. Clintin and Secy. Gates have made themselves available to talk about U.S. nuclear disarmament and reduction strategy.  Rounding out the round table are David Brooks, Harold Ford Jr. Kathleen Parker and David Sanger.

Sen and Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy has been charged with shepherding the confirmation process and pushing through the yet unnamed nominee.

DG: Has the president worked out whether he’s thinking about someone with political experience?

PL: He has a many names each of whom would make a wonderful Justice of the Supreme Court but I’d like it if he chose someone with more political and policy experience.

DG: Sen. Sessions as you look past the healthcare debate do you think this will be a  big fight?

JS: I think Sen. Feinstein said it best that the nominee should be one who could pass with 70 votes.  But if he chooses a nominee who  is an activist and who wants to effectuate change from the bench, then we might have a fight. (I wonder what that means.  This given that the current court is the most activist and retrogressive court since Reconstruction and the post-reconstruction era!)

DG: Sen. Sessions given that hte short list includes Judge Merrick Garland, Elena Kagan, Secy. Homeland Security Napolitano are there any nonstarters?

JS: Its too early to tell, but so far we need to see whether the nominee holds a position contrary to the American people or not.

DG: Can you promise an up or down vote on the nominee?  Or is there a possibility of a filibuster?

JS: We will give the nominee the chance to explain his or her position.

DG: Chairman when can we expect a nominee?

PL: Soon.  But we think that we’ll have the process wrapped up by the summer, before the next session starts.  (Justice Stevens has all but ensured a quick nomination and confirmation for the unnamed nominee.  Justice Stevens will step down the day after the court recesses and therefore there will be an empty seat in the court until the court comes back to session.  The GOP will likely want to move to fill that seat without too much ruckus along with the Democratic majority. So claims the New Yorker’s Jeff Toobin.)

Secy. Clinton and Gates are up next.  But the talk was pre-recorded.  So be it. The substance of the conversation is on the treaty the president signed in Prague with Medvedev and on the summit he will host this week where leaders from 40 or more countries will come and hash out their issues for nuclear security.

DG: Though the nuclear disarmament decision is a middle ground (because it disarms and therefore 30% of our nukes) is it enough to make the world safer world?  

HC:  We will protect our interests and our nuclear detterrent will remain effective.   But we are better off if we work on non-proliferation with other countries.  We have to look at the bigger picture.  The posture review, the new Start treaty and the new summit next week.  This move reaffirms nuclear deterence and also ensure that we are examining nuclear proliferation. 

DG: But suppose we think that the reason for nuclear deterrence was US military might, not nuclear payloads, how do we suppose that we might be able to deter Iran and North Korea from moving forward on their nuclear ambition?

RG: The nuclear posture review was only adopted after discussions with the Joint Chiefs.  We would pass the review if we didn’t think it was safe move for America.  But we also have new technology that we didn’t have before when we first started talking about the nuclear posture review and the Start treaty.

The nuclear posture also puts us in a stronger position to marshal agreement with other countries at a multilateral level when trying to deal with countries like Iran.

DG: What is the threat that we face given proliferation and the threat of terrorists getting loose and available nuclear weapons/

HC: We know that the threat of nuclear terrorism has increased whereas the threat of nuclear war has decreased. So the question is nuclear proliferation.  We know that terrorists groups want to gather enough material to attack us. We are now trying to make this a high international point of focus.  We will begin this process starting next week.

DG: Is Iran now likely to become a nuclear state so that the U.S. strategy is containment?

RG: No.  We’re trying to make sure that Iran does not get weapons.  We are now very soon going to reach a U.N. Security Council Resolution and that’s going to give us a legal platform from which other organizations and countries will be able to take steps against Iran.  We need to convince the Iranians that they are better off without a weapon than with one.

DG: Is a nuclear capable Iran just as dangerous as being a nuclear state?

HC: Potential is dangerous too.

RG: Its a question of verification.  But we think that Iran is not nuclear capable.  But the threat looms, but we will have to verify the distinction.

DG: What do we say about our friend Hamid Karzai who is saying wild and crazy things?

RG: Well, lets say if we think Karzai feels his family and country and sovereignty threatened he might take some hard stances.  His rhetoric could be quite difficult but perhaps because the facts on teh ground are quite difficult.

DG: So are you saying that we should not overreact?

HC: Absolutely. I have a lot of sympathy for his day to day experience.  Frankly if some newspaper in the U.S. says something against Karzai he could think: is our government behind this?

DG: But is it not somewhat abrupt like when the Prime Minister of Israel said he wouldn’t be coming to the nuclear summit?

HC: You just can’t react to some little thing that happens.  It was a decision reached by a sovereign government’s leader.

The roundtable is up.  The politics of the nomination and confirmation of the Supreme  Court.

DG: The confirmation will be fast.  But the GOP will not take the filibuster off the table.

DB: If the president picks someone who is more man of the table, not a Harvard, Yale graduate, the GOP will have some difficulty in voting no.

DG: Let’s talk about judicial philosophy.  There’s some idea that there’s some room for some progressve pushback because the court has become more conservative.  Do you think the president will move with that idea in mind.

DS: That may be true.  But given that from now until the November election, this will be the most important domestic policy move, so maybe he might choose the one candidate who will most deflate the right’s anger.

DG: David Sanger, how is this president recasting America’s role in the world?

DG: He has not accomplished much that he claimed to.  The question will be how does he deal with irreconciliable differences states on the international forum.

DG: What does the new nuclear disarmament review mean for America’s safety?

KP: I think engagement is great, but engagement does not solve international policy issues. Its a process, not an end.  Obama can claim that we are not exceptional, but most Americans think we are exceptional. So going forward we need to make sure that we can compel other states into doing what turns out best for us.

DG: But lets talk about the bigger questions.

DS: Secy. Gates brought up an interesting point that we might not know when Iran can put together a weapon.  This means that we need to know about a Plan B.  What do we do when we know that Iran can make a weapon.  For at that point, engagement will not work.

DG: What do we do about Karzai.  Clinton and Gates must shifted from criticism to support Karzai. It brings a certain point that we need to support Karzai, otherwise are our soldiers to think that they are fighting for a loser and a crook.

DG: Lets talk about leadership.  At the Souther Republican Leadership Conference, we saw that Newt Gingrich argued the GOP should be the party of yes, whereas Sarah Palin argued that the “Party of No” should be the “Party of Hell No!!”, if the presidents policies offend their political sensibilities and ideologies.

DB: The GOP is not Palin nor Gingrich.  The GOP is Chris Christie and Mark Kirk in Illinois. These guys have pragmatic policies even though they stand against a lot of President Obama’s policies.  So lets pay more attention to these guys.

DG: Is Obama a different figure for the GOP to challenge after the healtcare fight.

KP: Not really.  I do think though that now the GOP thinks the president is a difficult foe to beat.

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~ by Faheem Haider on April 11, 2010.

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