Notable Quotables - 02/14/2005

Chris's Crude Cynicism

Chris Matthews: "Do you think President Bush used this [emotional hug between an Iraqi voter and Janet Norwood, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq] to push his numbers on Social Security reform, just to get his general appeal up a bit, a couple of points?"
MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan: "Well, I don't want to speculate on what was in President Bush's mind."
Matthews: "How about his handlers? Do you think the PR guys...around the White House did this to promote the President's agenda?"
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: "Please, come on."
Reagan: "Well, of course they did. Oh, sure they did."
Scarborough: "Oh, come on!...I mean, that's just the height of cynicism."
Matthews: "No, I'm just asking you, I'm not taking sides here, but you know who makes these decisions, the PR people around the President....They make the decision about who sits in the box and where they're seated next to who....I guess the only question is whether that Iraqi woman was prompted to go up and hug Janet Norwood by some staffer."
-Exchange during MSNBC's live coverage following President Bush's State of the Union address, February 2.


CBS: Cruel "Cuts" Hurt Neediest

Reporter Lee Cowan: "The proposed [Bush budget] cuts hit the heartland like a mountain of unwanted news, from the soy bean fields of Iowa, where farmers marched on the capitol to voice their disgust at slashing farm subsidies, to large cities like Minneapolis, where block grant programs help the homeless and the hungry....The White House calls the budget 'lean,' proponents call it difficult but brave. But critics charge the people these cuts hit the hardest tend to have the weakest political voice."
Robert Greenstein, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: "Cuts in programs for the working poor, low income elderly people, people with disabilities. They tend not to have much in the way of lobbyists. They don't give campaign contributions."
Cowan: "....This Dallas health clinic serves only the poorest of patients, but already there is a two-month waiting list. Dr. Maureen Thielen says the President's proposed cuts in Medicaid will only make it worse....Agencies that are already doing the work of the poor now find themselves in the unenviable position of proving that their cause is worth it."
-CBS Evening News, February 7.


Expecting an Election "Bloodbath"

Chris Matthews: "What does it smell like over there [in Baghdad]? Do you sense fireworks?"
NBC's Campbell Brown: "You do, Chris....On the street, you get the sense that something big is about to happen, something big and fairly ugly."
-MSNBC's Hardball on January 28, two days before Iraq's first free elections.

Co-host Mike Jerrick: "What do you think's going to happen Sunday?"
FNC reporter Steve Harrigan, just back from Iraq: "I think there's going to be a bloodbath on Sunday....All over the place, especially in Baghdad and a few other cities."
-FNC's Fox & Friends, January 28.

Splashing Cold Water on Success

"Was it that clean? Was there no pushing by American soldiers or coalition forces to make people vote or discourage them from not voting?"
-MSNBC's Chris Matthews to Brian Williams on a special Hardball on January 30, the day of Iraq's elections.

"In other parts of the Sunni Muslim heartland tonight, it looks as if the election process has been rejected. In many places were told the polling stations didn't even open. This is a huge problem for Iraq as a whole. Without Sunni participation, somehow, the future here is still pretty bleak."
-ABC's Peter Jennings on the January 30 World News Tonight, just hours after voting ended in Iraq.

"Everybody's very euphoric about the fact that Iraqi's went to vote on Sunday. When the numbers come in eventually, who did vote and what percentage they voted in, I think it will be clearer that perhaps the enthusiasm for the process is not as great as people here in Washington think."
-Peter Jennings setting up a question to Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria during ABC's live coverage following the State of the Union address on February 2.


Bush the Irrational Ayatollah

"In the words of one of his [Ayatollah Sistanis] aides, 'the representation of our Sunni brethren in the coming government must be effective, regardless of the results of the elections.' As an Iraqi politician said to me, 'There are currently two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Sistani and Bush. Most of us feel that Sistani is the more rational.'"
-Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria in a column published in the magazine's January 24 edition.


Even in Success, Iraq = Vietnam

"It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by those scenes from yesterday: millions of Iraqis literally taking their lives in their hands, defying death by dipping their finger in ink and voting. But you don't have to be a cynic to wonder if the current Iraqi Prime Minister got just a little ahead of himself when he declared today that the terrorists now know they cannot win. It wouldn't be the first time that the promise of elections went unfulfilled. Take a look at this headline from the New York Times. The date was September 3, 1967. The place was Vietnam. The turnout was 83 percent and the U.S. was encouraged, but our troops were there for six more years."
-ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Nightline, Jan. 31.

"I'm an old bozo so I have a long memory, and I was struck by the similarity between the euphoric reaction in Washington after the elections there in 1967 and the euphoric reactions to the elections in Iraq. I'll just read you one, the lead paragraph of a piece from that year in the Times...."
-Longtime New York Times correspondent R. W. Apple, Jr. on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, February 3.

"A New York Times story summed up the vista neatly: 'United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in the election despite a terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone,' the Times continued, 'in the Presidents policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes....' Unfortunately, those quotes are from an article from the New York Times of Sept. 4, 1967. The heartening vote was in South Vietnam. The President for whom it was believed to be a keystone was Lyndon Johnson."
-Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown, February 3.

Lauer Now Sees Whitman as Wise

"A former Cabinet member says the Presidents party is being held hostage by the far right....[Christine Todd Whitman's] new book criticizing the far right is called Its My Party Too....You say that today's conservatives are not true conservatives. Let me read you a portion: 'Much of their agenda is simply inconsistent with true conservatism. They seem to have forgotten that one of America's greatest strengths has always been its ability to respect the broad range of ideas centered on a core set of values: freedom, opportunity, diversity....' When it comes to the President's agenda for his second term, things like Social Security, how much do you think its possible he could be held hostage by that far right?"
-Matt Lauer to Whitman on NBC's Today, January 27.


Post Fashion Maven Gets Snotty...

"At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney....The Vice President, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower. Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the Vice President looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults."
-The Washington Post's Robin Givhan in a Jan. 28 article bannered across the top of the papers "Style" section.

...And Other Journalists Applaud

"We like to point out the faux pas of people in power. Look at this: The scene is the official observance of the liberation of Auschwitz, a sober ceremony attended by world leaders, all, it seems, dressed in black, except - yup, that's Dick Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney. What was he thinking? Write us at and tell us your guess. We are way too polite to speculate not on camera, anyway. And thank you to Robin Givhan, the fashion writer at the Washington Post, for catching that for us."
-PBS's Gwen Ifill on Washington Week, January 28.

"Finally, the fashion faux pas that's becoming an international incident....Sitting among a sea of world leaders in black formal coats, the Vice President stood out in his green parka and knit hat from the Jackson Hole ski resort. The fashion writer Robin Givhan of the Washington Post criticized Cheney for arriving dressed, quote, in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower....Maybe he thought he was going to a Green Bay Packers game."
-Fill-in host Alison Stewart on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, January 28.


"Disgusting" Democracy Gesture

"The inked fingers [held up by some GOP House members] was disgusting....The inked fingers and the position of them, which is gonna be a Daily Show photo already, of them signaling in this manner [does the Nazi salute], as if they have solidarity with the Iraqis who braved physical threats against their lives to vote, as if somehow these inked-fingered Republicans have something to do with that."
-Left-wing Air America radio host Janeane Garofalo on MSNBC about 12:30am EST, a few hours after President Bush's February 2 State of the Union address.