Sen. Pat Leahy Busts Bob Scheiffer's Use Of The Right-wing Talking Point "Banana Republic" (And A Bit About Cheney)
In this clip you can see how easy it is for conservatives to have their talking points easily slipped into the traditional media at the drop of a hat. Even when they are meaningless and laughable. Today's accomplice is Bob Schieffer from Face the Nation. Sen. Pat Leahy is getting very adept in catching this from the talking heads that are interviewing him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, is there the risk? I mean, and you know the argument you-- we’ve been hearing it all that-- that we somehow criminalize our political system. I mean, you know, in banana republics one group throws out the other group and they put them all in jail and then they stay there till somebody else comes along and throws them in jail.
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: (Overlapping) But I'm not--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Are we going down that kind of trail here?
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: No. I think not. And I-- you know, I've heard the talking point that’s-- usually by people who are afraid they may be looked are the ones making that-- making that argument. But I'm not out for some kind of vengeance and, certainly, if you have people in the field who are told here are the orders from the White House, here is a legal memo telling you what to do and how to do it.
Now, nobody is going to prosecute them, although, I would note that when FBI agents were there and they saw what was being done, when they reported back to the headquarters, FBI director Mueller said, "No, you can't do that. That violates our own rules. That violates our understanding of the law. You have to step back" -- and they did, till word got around.
What I want to know is this: Who were the people in the Office of Legal Counsel, in the President's Council office, even in the Justice Department who knew this was against the law and still told people to go and break the law? I am far more concerned about those people than I am going after somebody in the field.
Does Bob Schieffer actually know what the term "Banana Republic" means?
Banana Republic is a pejorative term for a country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture (e.g. bananas), and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy, and corrupt clique. It is most commonly used for countries in Central America and Africa such as El Salvador, Belize, Grenada, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and South Africa. In some cases, these nations have kept the government structures that were modeled after the colonial Spanish ruling clique, with a small, largely leisure class on the top, and a large, poorly educated and poorly paid working class of peons, though it might have the (fake) trappings of modernity (such as styling itself a republic with a president etc.)
Frequently the subject of mockery and humour, and usually presided over by a dictatorial military junta that exaggerates its own power and importance—"the epaulettes of a banana republic generalissimo" are proverbially of considerable size, usually portrayed in satire with a pair of mops—a banana republic also typically has large wealth inequities, poor infrastructure, poor schools, a "backward" economy, low capital spending, a reliance on foreign capital and money printing, budget deficits, and a weakening currency. Banana republics are typically also highly prone to revolutions and coups.
And then Bob takes what Dick Cheney says as gospel about CIA memos that will exonerate4 him. Isn't it obvious to Schieffer that if there were any of these "memos," Bush would have leaked them already?
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about somebody in Congress? We know that the ranking members and the chairman of the intelligence committees were apparently briefed on this, apparently, Nancy Pelosi was briefed on this. You are going to go after them?.
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: That's not the part I'm going after, but let me tell you this, the commission can look at that. If you had a bipartisan commission or a nonpartisan commission, they'll look at all those questions and they will look at the transcripts of what was it. As you know, there is a great deal of dispute as to what extend they were-- they were briefed. And the difficult thing of this if you are in these briefings is you can't talk about what's in-- in the briefing.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So should you release all of that? I mean--
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: Well, why not. I mean so much of this stuff has been in the public domain now anyway. Senator McCain said one of the best tools in getting people to join al Qaeda was showing the pictures of Americans torturing people at Abu Ghraib. And as so many military have said this didn't help us, it's not who we are, we shouldn't have been doing it. And I commend those people in our military at the highest level who said it was a mistake.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what about-- what about the suggestion that the vice president is now making that more of these things be released so the American people will have a better idea of the results that they got.
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: Well, you know, I find this very interesting concerning the fact that the vice president didn't even want to admit that he was part of the three branches of government. He was saying that, when people are asking questions, we're kind of a fourth branch, so we don't have to answer. I'd be delighted if he wants to come up and talk about it under oath. I would be delighted to have Vice President Cheney come up and talk about it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Under oath?
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: Under oath.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But not if he refused to do it under oath?