April 27, 2009
From Fareed Zakaria GPS. John Meacham pushes back against Peggy Noonan's "let's move forward" nonsense. John Amato: Peggy Noonan sounds like she ate a few of those funny mushrooms about forty five minutes before she went on the set and everything just turned so damn mellow. Digby puts it best when she says:
If I had only been listening with half an ear I would have thought that I was hearing some very stoned woman having a stream of consciousness conversation with herself at a Grateful Dead concert. I half expected her to bring up the dolphins again. What in God's name is she smoking? And why is she on my TV?
I think I understand Glenn Beck now. He's channeling Peggy Noonan's schtick, but adds an eight-ball of coke to the emo-cocktail that takes his phony compassionate crying to a new level of absurdity. They think they will look more credible if they seem to care more than you or I in the fuzzy dice kind of way.
ZAKARIA: Let's talk about Obama and terror, because that's another part of this whole puzzle. You've had Dick Cheney giving a very unusual interview in which he says, effectively, Obama is weakening the country and setting up a scenario where, if there is by some chance another attack, it could be seen as Obama's fault. You know, other Republicans saying that he should have kept in place all these provisions regarding torture, regarding whatever else, in order to fight the war more vigorously. You've had a little bit of a controversy around all this, Peggy. You think that the memos about torture should have been released, but we should have moved on, or should never have been released? NOONAN: Oh, it seems to me the world knows that things were done wrong. I think Obama has made it clear, coming forward, that his plans are to leave that old stuff behind. There is always a temptation to focus on what the last administration in its mistakes did. I think the problems that are here, however, are so pressing, that sometimes you've just got to stop and say, "That was then. This is now. Move forward." MEACHAM: Winston Churchill said that the British people can face any misfortune with fortitude and buoyancy, as long as they are convinced that those who are in charge of their affairs are not deceiving them, or not themselves dwelling in a fool's paradise. The American people can do that, too. We can handle the truth. The covenant of modern democracies is, give it to us straight and we will do what it takes. And as General Powell, I think, once memorably said, you know, we've gone abroad many times, and the only thing we've asked for is the ground in which to bury our dead. I think that governments have to be responsible, because governments are us. I mean, otherwise, the entire idea of civic and republican -- lower case "r" -- virtue collapses. So... ZAKARIA: So, you would be comfortable with investigations? MEACHAM: Sure.
ZAKARIA: Walter? ISAACSON: I actually agree with Peggy on this, which is, I'm glad that they were open about it. But I very much like President Obama's speech at the CIA, in which he did say... NOONAN: Yes, so did I. ISAACSON: Yes, OK -- in which he did say, don't be disheartened. What you do is very important at the CIA. And we're not going to try to prosecute or go back and criminalize what was done in the past. NOONAN: That's good. ISAACSON: If people want to hold hearings, OK. But let's not dwell in the past. And certainly, let's not make the CIA, which is trying to do the right thing, feel that somehow they can now be subject to criminal investigations. NOONAN: I thought that was excellent. I thought it was sensitive, and it was smart, and it was sophisticated. And it was helpful towards an agency that understandably feels beleaguered. ISAACSON: Which I thought was also typical of Obama, to be able to get the balance there. MEACHAM: And I'm not sure... NOONAN: You're an (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Come on. (CROSSTALK) ISAACSON: You're agreeing with me on this. NOONAN: Well, I'm agreeing with you on that appearance. It was really good. (CROSSTALK) NOONAN: It was smart. It was good. MEACHAM: ... I do -- I would be very reluctant, particularly since the lawyers at the administration were telling everyone that it was OK. But in terms of... ZAKARIA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) investigation... MEACHAM: ... in terms of investigations, here's what happened. Are we a better or worse country because of the Church Committee? ISAACSON: No. Although I would much rather have Senate investigations on how we got into this economic mess. I'd love to know... MEACHAM: We can do both. ISAACSON: ... you can't even remember what AIG did... (CROSSTALK) NOONAN: I want more journalism. I want more investigative journalism. I want these two gentlemen to... ISAACSON: We've got to say, the journalism for all three of us. NOONAN: ... look into everything. But we do, indeed. That's a bigger threat. ZAKARIA: On that note, Jon Meacham, Peggy Noonan, Walter Isaacson, thank you very much.

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