Novak's Replacement Might Be Most Callous Man in America
It's painful to watch the maniacal shoutfests that pass for debate on CNN's Crossfire. And it's sad that the show helps legitimize liars like Robert Novak.
But the worst thing about Crossfire is that it helped create a generation of copycat shoutfests, where the spinner who helps loudest and most often wins, facts be damned. As Jon Stewart argued, Crossfire is to debate what pro wrestling is to professional sports.
Because any bozo with a Crossfire microphone can influence a small segment of the electorate, I introduce to you Tony Fabrizio, Republican consultant and pollster. Fabrizio, along with Philadelphia talk show host Joe Watkins, helped fill in for Novak on Friday's show.
Fabrizio knew his marching orders. He was to fill Novak's shoes, support the president, and offer red-meat for Crossfire's audience. And Fabrizio showed he had the chops to be as callous and devoid of facts as Novak and the Republican leadership they so desperately want to keep in office.
The discussion Friday regarded a powerful ad that can be seen at http://www.winbackrespect.org/ads/
Here's a partial transcript of that debate:
BEGALA: There is a new ad from MoveOn PAC that is going to start on Monday that CNN was able to obtain today from MoveOn. It is really quite stunning and stark. And it takes on the president for making light of the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Here's the ad from MoveOn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.
BUSH: Nope, no weapons over there.
BROOKE CAMPBELL, SISTER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: My brother died in Baghdad on April 29. I watched President Bush make a joke looking around for weapons of mass destruction. My brother died looking for weapons of mass destruction.
NARRATOR: Over 1,000 troops like Ryan have died in Iraq. Yet there never were any weapons. George Bush, he just doesn't get it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Devastating ad, isn't that, Tony?
FABRIZIO: I would agree that it is a very emotional ad. But the ad makes the wrong point. The ad draws the wrong conclusion. When the ad says that her brother lost his life looking for weapons of mass destruction, no. Her brother lost his life protecting America by removing a man from power who was a sworn enemy of the United States.
BEGALA: From weapons of mass destruction that weren't there.
BEGALA: Tony, you do have to admit that it is spectacularly callous for our president to send troops into harm's way for a stated purpose of finding weapons that were not there and then to make jokes about it, when men have died....
FABRIZIO: No, I'll tell you what is spectacularly callous. What is spectacularly callous is that the Clinton administration had eight years to do something about these guys and didn't.
BEGALA: We had them in a box. He was no threat to anybody. What are you drinking?
BEGALA: I want to get a case of it.
FABRIZIO: We had him a box? Oh, really?
BEGALA: Yes. He was no threat to anybody. He had no weapons.
FABRIZIO: I'm drinking the same Kool-Aid that a majority of Americans are, who believe that this president is doing the right thing when it comes to fighting the war on terror. That is the Kool- Aid I'm drinking.
I ask you, when did debate devolve into smack-and-run tactics? When did "coward conservatism" -- the need to insult your opponent's liberalism, rather than defend your own conservatism -- become the preferred method of debate?
In a way, I don't blame Fabrizio. He's taking his marching orders from some higher-up, following the lead of Bush and Cheney, Rove and Hughes. He's following the lead of Novak, too. No news item is too large or sad to divert them from twisting the history and statements of John Kerry in order to make him look like an unpatriotic sloth -- much as they did in 2000 with John McCain.
I have to assume Fabrizio had never seen the advertisement before Friday's Crossfire. And yet, he was able to summon a lethal, politically charged attack that got the crowd cheering.
And what of Brooke Campbell, still mourning her brother? Fabrizio, the true conservative patriot that he is, knew how to respond. He doesn't care about the Campbells, and he damn well wants to make sure you don't either.