IT WAS KIND of a slow news week for the Sunday morning talk shows. The biggest news was also the least surprising announcement of all time: Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2008. The biggest impact of this announcement so far is that it forced a number of Democratic senators (some of them presidential hopefuls themselves) to respond to so many tedious questions about their high-profile colleague/presidential aspirant. Their responses can be summarized thusly: Senator Clinton is a great lady and would make a great president if elected.
Meet the Press featured interviews with Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. McCain was supportive of sending more troops to Iraq. He commented on the most recent plan and the new American leader in Baghdad, saying "I am concerned about it, whether it is sufficient numbers or not. I would have like to have seen more. I looked General Petraeus in the eye and said, 'Is that sufficient for you to do the job?' He assured me that he thought it was and that he had been told that if he needed more he would receive them. I have great confidence in General Petraeus." He also talked about the consequences of leaving Baghdad to its own devices: "Baghdad is a city of six million people--two million Sunnis, four million Shia. We would see a bloodletting in Baghdad that would make Srebrenica look like a Sunday school picnic."
McCain was also dismissive of the resolution that would condemn the president's course of action: "And this resolution is basically a vote of no confidence in the men and women we are sending over there. We're saying, 'We're sending you--we're not going to stop you from going there, but we don't believe you can succeed and we're not willing to support that.' I don't think the troops would find that an expression of support." Senator Kennedy said that this was not the case, and that Congress needs a say in matters usually left to the presidency. "That is the line that is given from the administration. What we have been for is certainly an orderly kind of redeployment, the training of Iraqis, the supply of the equipment. They can have a continued training program."
Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer chatted with Republican maverick Chuck Hagel about his stance on the Iraq war and what American troops should be doing at this point. "For example, the territorial integrity of Iraq. That is something that we could do, to start helping seal off those western borders. That's what Maliki's talked about. We had a panel of four former retired four star generals before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, various ideas and positions. But one of those generals said that this was a fool's errand to continue to put American troops in the middle of a sectarian civil war." He also laid out his thoughts on what was ailing the Republican party, saying "The party that I first voted for on top of a tank in the Mekong Delta in 1968 is not the party I see today, Bob. Fiscal responsibility, engagement with others, pro-trade, personal responsibility, less government--that's not who we are today."
Face the Nation also debuted a new segment today; from now on, the venerable Sunday hot spot will add a roundtable with reporters from the recently created Politico, an inside the beltway publication with a print, web, and television presence. This segment marked the debut of Politico's television presence, and it got off to a promising start. Former Washington Post all stars Jim VandeHei and John Harris were joined by Josephine Hearn, and the banter was what one might expect from a Sunday morning roundtable. VandeHei offered his analysis of Hillary Clinton's web based presidential announcement, saying "There's a huge disconnect between the Hillary Clinton that her staff sees and that, quite frankly, that we see when we talk to her. She can be not only authoritative but also charming and likable. And that does not project very well sometimes through TV or when she's giving speeches."
John Harris believes that, despite McCain's recent dip in the polls, he'll be okay in the Republican primary; it's the general election that's going to give him problems: "I was talking to a very senior Republican just Friday night who says, `Look, there is no constituency in the Republican Party in the primaries for somebody who wants to wage a candidacy in opposition to George Bush or as the dove on Iraq.' So I'm not sure it's a problem for Senator McCain in his first challenge with Republicans, but it's potentially just a candidacy ending problem for him, I believe, as he tries to face voters in 2008."
Fox News Sunday featured interviews with Joe Biden and Carl Levin, and Biden offered his thoughts on the resolutions being debated by the Senate, saying "I'm not for capping for the simple reason that it maintains the status quo; I don't want to cap, I want to reduce! . . . if we're really going to do something about this . . . then I think we have to change the authorization for the use of force." Newt Gingrich was also on the Fox set, and he gave his appraisal of the Democrats' "first 100 hours."
"I think she has had a very good run," Gingrich said of the new speaker of the House. "First of all, every Republican should respect what Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel have done. They put together a campaign team, they recruited people who are fairly centrist. . . . they've been typically Democrat in that they had to have a tax increase as part of the first 100 hours; they have a very strange idea next week about empowering American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands to equal Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana in voting in the committee of the whole, which I think will backfire a little bit on them."
On the panel, Juan Williams was asked his opinion on the state of race/sex relations as the impact they have on presidential campaigns. "My sense," he opined, "is that I think a white woman has a better chance . . . When you talk about things like experience, she's had a term in the senate, now starting her second, but I don't think it's that much greater in terms of foreign policy experience. In terms of Obama and race, don't forget the idea that he comes from a father who's a Muslim and all that." Brit Hume disagreed, saying "I think race is an asset to Barack Obama. If Barack Obama was a white guy, he'd be kind of an ordinary newcomer to the Senate. I think people are fascinated by it, inspired by his story, and it's one of the things that's propelling him. I think that most Americans, the overwhelming majority of Americans, deeply want to see African Americans get ahead in this country."
This Week was not terribly interesting. It featured interviews with two figures who do not poll particularly well as presidential candidates, Kansas senator Sam Brownback and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Richardson told George Stephanopoulos that he was not positioning himself for a gig as vice president: "I'm not interested in being vice president; I've got a better job as governor."
Sonny Bunch is assistant editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.