I'm not sure what the producers at HBO's Real Time or host Bill Maher were thinking when they decided that having serial liar and Benghazi conspiracy theorist Sharyl Attkisson as a member of this week's panel since the woman has absolutely no credibility, has no business being called journalist and had next to nothing to add to most of the conversation during the show as well.
That said, the debate over our 47 Republican senators who decided it was a good idea to shoot that letter off to the Iranians, trying to undermine the Obama administration when they're in the middle of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program was one of the better ones I've watched on television lately despite guest Tom Rogan's attempt to conflate the signing of that letter with Nancy Pelosi's 2007 visit to Syria and Maher being completely unprepared to address the smear and rebut it.
Media Matters did a nice job of breaking down the difference between the two, so I won't do that here. Just go read their post and maybe sometime in the near future we can hope Bill Maher does as well: The Differences Between The 47 GOP Senators' Iran Letter And Pelosi's 2007 Syria Visit .
After showing the Daily News cover which portrayed the 47 senators as traitors, which led to Rogan's conflation of what they did to Nancy Pelosi's trip, Arianna Huffington pointing out that a number of Republican senators are now backtracking on their support of the letter, and Attkisson pretending this was somehow business as usual for the senate, which it's not, Sean Penn suggested another way to view what the senate had done:
PENN: When a young William Jefferson Clinton was a Oxford and protesting the Vietnam war and later ran for president of the United States, they said that he was a traitor for protesting from foreign shores. And the moment that that letter arrived in Tehran, they were protesting from foreign shores and in fact, I think that where we should be looking at this is not in terms of treason, but mutiny and I think perhaps criminal mutiny.
Given the fact that this Republican controlled Congress has been completely hostile to the Obama administration and that this letter does seem to be organized defiance to his authority to conduct foreign policy, I wouldn't dismiss Penn's charges here too lightly, not that anything will ever be done about what they just did other than in maybe the court of public opinion since the right has actually turned on them for once as well.
The conversation moved onto Lindsey Graham and his pearl clutching over Iran where he claimed he was more afraid of them than ISIS, with Huffington asking why the hell anyone even listens to him any more (good question Sunday show bookers) and reminding everyone of just how wrong this warmonger has been for a very long time.
HUFFINGTON: Going back to 2003, I went back and saw what he was saying on Meet the Press then, and he was so cheerleading the war. He kept saying of course Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. All the same stuff that he's saying now about Iran, without any reservation he was saying about Iraq and he doesn't see the connection between what we did in Iraq and how that strengthened Iran and how of course the way that ISIS was created, because of the complete failure of the political solution in Iraq.
The panel went onto debate that fact that the members of our senate and not the Iranians were the ones who seemed to be having a bit of trouble with our Constitution, and the fact that Marco Rubio doesn't understand ISIS and the fact that the Iranians are helping the United States to fight ISIS.
As Maher rightfully noted, if you're going to look at the root causes for the instability in the region, it would be our decision to go in there and overthrow Saddam Hussein in the first place with apparently no clue or care from the Bush administration on how to keep the country together. After Rogan completely blew off Maher's arguments, Huffington continued with making her case on just how damaging this letter sent by the Republicans actually is.
HUFFINGTON: The problem is that the implication of this letter is that if there is a Republican in the White House next, they're going to go to war with Iran, and there is absolutely no accountability for how they're going to pay for it, or what that means.
My guess is that they'll just put in the credit card like Bush did with his invasion of Iraq in the first place and magically every single right wing pundit will no longer care about deficits or what it cost to invade another country and see how well that works out for us.
Sean Penn wrapped things up nicely when he was talking about the fact that there is a generation of young Iranians we might want on our side instead of dropping bombs on them.
PENN: And for us to alienate that and the military option of course, the military option has always been perceived, very dangerously perceived, as a winnable military option, but in this case we're also talking about something that's much bigger than the conversation of ISIS vs Iran. It has to finally have to do with regional dynamics and nuclear proliferation issues. [...]
So when you have an executive branch negotiating on that highest level, for 47 senators to do this is to risk our children's' lives.