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Sunday Show Wrap-Up

10:28 AM, Apr 14, 2008 • By SONNY BUNCH
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The most striking news to come out of the Sunday morning talk shows was Stephen Hadley's dismissive response when asked whether or not the United States should boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. On Fox News Sunday, Hadley said the following:

"I think this issue is, in some sense, a bit of a red herring. I think, unfortunately, a lot of countries say ‘well, if we say that we are not going to the opening ceremonies we've checked the box on Tibet.' That's a copout. If other countries are concerned about Tibet, they ought to do what we are doing: through quiet diplomacy, send the message clearly to the Chinese that this is an opportunity with the whole world watching to show that they take into account and are determined to treat their citizens with dignity and respect. They would put pressure on the Chinese authorities, quietly, to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama and use this as an opportunity to help resolve that situation."

To a certain extent, Hadley is right: as Christopher Caldwell implied in his Financial Times column a couple weeks back, a boycott of the opening ceremonies is little more than an empty rhetorical gesture--a cynical attempt to gain the moral high ground without incurring any cost. But the "quiet diplomacy" so proudly trumpeted by Hadley will, in all likelihood, have the same effect of a boycott or a semi-boycott: none whatsoever. As former Olympian Joey Cheek (a founder of genocide awareness organization Team Darfur) said after Hadley's appearance, "quiet diplomacy takes place while people are being slaughtered." China's atrocities cannot go unchallenged by the West, but neither has anyone resolved upon an appropriate response.

The biggest political news of the weekend was undoubtedly Barack Obama's gaffe late last week in San Francisco, when he went out of his way to insult working class Pennsylvanians to the delight of his upper crust, liberal donors. George Will struck at the heart of the problem on This Week, noting the two distinct questions that have arisen as a consequence. "First is he condescending, b.) is he out of touch? Condescending: It's an old liberal tradition to explain away cultural and political conservatism as a personality defect, a mental disorder--some kind of irrational flight from reality, hence ‘clinging' to religion not ‘embracing' religion. Out of touch: this is a man who went to Iowa and commiserated with Iowans over the cost of arugula at Whole Foods stores, of which there are none in Iowa."

Mary Matalin believed that Obama's biggest problem is that this wasn't really a "gaffe," per se: it's what Obama and the Democrtaic elite actually believe. "Well, the damage here is that what he said accurately reflects the current Democratic party. It's more affluent. It's more liberal. That's the way it's moving. He was saying it to San Francisco Democrats, rich San Francisco Democrats, and it reflects the kind of Democrat that loses at the presidential level. In the last half century--greater than the last half century-- Democrats have not won at the presidential level unless they have a centrist southern--a centrist Southerner."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on Face the Nation and gave us a glimpse of the progress being made in Iraq. "Eight provinces in Iraq are already under provincial Iraqi control, where there are either no Coalition forces or they are in a strategic overwatching background position; they're not involved in combat. The next province to go that direction will be Al Anbar, of all places, considering where it was 18 months ago. So what we have is half of Iraq where the transition has already been made to a different kind of role or mission for U.S. forces. We are still involved in combat in Baghdad. We are still involved in combat in Mosul and in the north. But the--but the process is one of province by province, district by district, when the Iraqi security forces are good enough, when the situation locally has--the security situation is calm enough, that we can then recede into the background. This is the process that's under way, and there're clearly large populous areas that aren't in that category yet, but that's the direction in which we're headed."