Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday morning viewing

Christian Amanpour's "This Week" covered one important & terribly sad issue: Army suicides. But it struck me that in her interview with vice chief of staff of the army, General Peter Chiarelli, who is in charge of solving this problem, I heard more from Amanpour than I did from Chiarelli. Not good for an interviewer.


I forgot about 'Face The Nation' & felt like I had 'been there, done that' with David Gregory's "Meet the Press" so I didn't bother.


On the other hand, Chris Matthews and his merry band voted 7 to 5 that Hillary Clinton would run as Obama's Vice President in 2012, switching jobs with Joe Biden.


And then Mathews ran some absolutely charming stories told by Bob Smith, the former White House pianist who entertained presidents from Nixon through Clinton.


Mr. Smith told the story about Richard Nixon used to order aboard empty bottles of very expensive vintage wines when entertaining on the Presidential yacht, Sequoia.. Then, before his guests arrived, he would stand at the bar with a funnel, filling the bottles with swill akin to Carlo Rossi. And when all his guests later rose in a toast, relishing their fine wines, he'd wink at the piano player as if to say: "Got 'em!".


Cary Grant ducked out of a White House dinner to sit down & play a few tunes with Mr. Smith. When dinner was announced, Cary Grant, who had been standing next to the piano with his cocktail, didn't follow the crowd into the next room. 'Mr. Grant', said the piano player, 'aren't you hungry? Don't you want any dinner?' 'No', Mr. Grant replied, explaining he was tired of everything, including being Cary Grant. All he wanted to do was to be Archie Leach (his real name), to listen to Cole Porter music & to reminisce -- which is exactly what he did for the next hour or so.


And finally, Mr. Smith told the following anecdote. After Bush senior won the presidency, the entire Bush clan came back to the White House to celebrate. And as Smith explained it, he recognized everyone: sister Dorothy, brothers Jeb, Neil, etc. etc. & then there was this guy who sat in the corner....


Chris Wallace of Fox News had an interesting interview with Ted Olsen, a conservative, who successfully argued for the rights of gays to marry (in opposition to California's Prop 8) before a gay, Republican Federal Judge. It was Olsen's contention, as a conservative, that this right is granted under the 14th amendment to the constitution & that the judge was anything but an activist judge; more to the point: he was following the original meanings of the 14th amendment.


It was clear that in the interview that Chris Wallace was totally outmatched by Ted Olsen who is used to this question and answer format, having argued so many cases before the Supreme Court. Chris Wallace tipped his hat to Olsen at the end of the interview.


Fareed Zakaria, of CNN, had two interesting interviews: one with Hamid Gul, the 74 year old former Pakistani ISA chief who is named in the WikiLeaks documents as plotting with the Taliban against Allied interests, particularly the United States. But as Gul pointed out in the interview, the U.S. pays for information & the Afghanies, a 'wily bunch who will do anything for money', simply manufacture information to get the money. Given the poverty in Afghanistan, this probably makes some sense. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that these tips aren't well corroborated. However, I was surprised to hear Gul TOTALLY dismiss Hamid Karzai and call the Afghanies a 'treacherous' bunch. It seems there's no love lost there. Gul is credited with helping to organize the  Mujaheddin to fight against the, then, Soviet Union.


The second interview was with Serbia's well spoken, 35 year old Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic,  (someone I knew nothing about) who stated categorically that the current government is committed to solving all their problems with breakaway Kosovo diplomatically and legally; dismissing any & all military options as a thing of the past. If this is so, it would be a tremendous advance in Balkan politics.


This was one of those Sunday mornings when I actually felt I had learned a thing or two watching the boob tube.