Sunday, February 27


Some nuggets from the Meet The Press roundtable.

On Bush's European trip:

William Safire -- "Deeply dismayed" that Bush "wimped out" when face-to-face with Putin, the "man who has done more than anyone else to halt the extension of freedom."

MoDo -- Bush may have learned the lesson of the "evil of lesser evilism." Thought he could use Putin (the lesser evil) to help with the Middle East and terrorists (the greater evil) but he may now be seeing that Russia is still, or again, part of the "axis of evil."

Tom Friedman -- Given the slack that Bush has cut Putin for four years now, he doesn't have much to show for it. He's continuing to sell arms to Syria, nuclear materiel to Iran, etc. How has this attitude helped American interests? Not clear that it has.

Russert: There's been lots more elections in the Middle East. Is something going on because of what's happened in Iraq?

Safire -- I'm a big believer in the rightness of the cause of going into Iraq and changing the regime. The noble motive of changing the whole dynamic in M.E. seems to be working. It's catching on. Laundry list of elections. Bush started it all with Iraq.

MoDo -- It's so 20th century to go to war because you have to, now we go because we want to. Are we in an ends justifies the means trap? Putin can also say about us some of the things we say about him. It's a Pandora's box, good spirits and evil spirits. I'm old-fashioned, I still believe you have to tell the American people the truth before you go to war.

Friedman -- We're at a major tipping point. Major things have happened in the M.E. but not necessary things. It could be a teeter totter, could tip back. Can Shiites share power is a key question. It's going to take lots of babysitting and involvement on our part. I never was with the WMD thing, I always thought this was a battle of ideas to change the M.E., and the administration should have been honest about that.

Russert: Should Bush be reaching out to Europe now?

MoDo -- Well, the whole trip was an attempt to reach out. But it's hard to have a "charm offensive" when your message is "We blew everything up, we were right you were wrong, but now we'll allow you to help us get out of this mess."

All agreed that Hillary Clinton is smart to be taking the Middle East initiative (now that we're there) seriously and openly backing it.

Safire doesn't agree that the administration didn't tell the truth before the war. He thought they DID tell the truth about what they knew about WMD.

Russert: Who might run for president in 2008?

Safire -- McCain (says McC weak because of privacy issues) and Condi Rice.

Friedman -- Iraq is not over for Bush administration, but it's too important to leave to Repugs alone, Dems should be participating with their ideas and trying to shape it. If they sulk on the side that's dumb. Iran will be an issue in 2008.

Safire -- Some of this (N. Korea, Iran) has been just beating on our highchair with a spoon.


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