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Speaking of clowns

Everyone should go take a gander at this. It's the transcript of a recent Hugh Hewitt radio show, where the right-wing shill does something he doesn't do very often: brings on a guest who actually knows what the fuck he's talking about.

The guest in question is retired Army general William Odom, whose conservative credentials are impeccable: he's a Yale professor and contemporary of Bush's father, a decorated veteran, a former director of the NSA (under Ronald Reagan, no less), a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, and a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. He's also a fierce advocate of immediately withdrawing our troops from Iraq, and has convincingly argued recently that no conseqence of our leaving is going to be worse than the consequences of our staying.

Hooty Hoo disagrees with this, of course, but was, er, a tad underequipped to engage the general in conversation about issues about which he is woefully uninformed. The rigged nature of punditry and the gamed aspect of talk shows rarely give us the opportunity to see what happens when ideology runs head-first into a wall of actual expertise, but it happens here, and Hewitt emerges all accordioned out like when Wile E. Coyote has a boulder dropped on his head.

I haven't actually heard the show, only read the highlights (those who did hear it report it came off as even more of a drubbing than it appears), but those are plenty. Some high points:

- Hewitt trying to show up Gen. Odom by asking him about the details of obscure Islamist theology, while the general plows right on ahead talking about geopolitics and refusing to be sidelined by the belief that the foreign policy of the most powerful nation on Earth should be dictated by the deranged religious rhetoric of a handful of kooks

- Hewitt saying that we can't pull out of Iraq because we don't want another Cambodia, then immediately dropping the point when Odom notes that what happened in Cambodia was largely our fault and would have happened whether we'd pulled out of Vietnam or not

- Odom telling Hewitt that he'd flunk him out of a sophomore international studies class

- Hewitt inexplicably citing Indonesia as an example of a liberal constitutional democracy

- Odom openly scoffing at Hewitt's attempt to compare today's situation in Iran with the position of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and responding to Hewitt's constant attempts to terrify him out of a realistic assessment of the regional outlook with scare quotes from right-wing authors and lunatic Islamists by saying "Look, I'm running out of time here"

- This quote: "A military commander that doesn’t know when to retire from one area so he can approach the conflict from another area is not a smart commander. And it seems to me you’re advocating a kind of policy where you have a President who jumps off the Empire State Building, and he goes by the 50th floor, and he says I’m on course. Well, I want a president who knows how to change course."

- This exchange, which is especially funny because despite Hewitt's ingratiating language he clearly hates General Odom by this point:

HH: Now General, you are a distinguished and long-serving member of the American military, in the Military Hall of Fame, you’re a Lt. General. I actually served alongside of you in the Reagan administration when you were running NSA. So I mean no disrespect by this next question.

WO: Yeah, you’re obviously going to call me a son of a bitch or something.

HH: No, I’m not. No, I’m not, General. I would never do that, because I esteem your service quite a lot, and I know your reputation as an intelligence professional, because I was the special assistant to Bill Smith running the FISA stuff, when you were over at NSA. So I know your credentials, and I esteem you.



(Deleted comment)
Feb. 20th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
"we're morally obligated to try and fix this awful shithole we made."

Well, I agree with this of course, but I don't see how any course of action that involves keeping US Troops in Iraq is going to be anything but disruptive.

I take it as a given that we are seen by a significant percentage of the populace - maybe even a majority - as a bunch of infidel foreign invaders. Which, of course, we are. Understandably, this is not the sort of people you want in your neighborhood running your life (if you're a Sunni, Sunni deathsquads may be sons of bitches, but they're YOUR sons of bitches) so you'll do what you can in the way of ambushes and ieds and so forth to get rid of 'em, where 'em=US Troops. Under the circumstances, although withdrawal will probably be short-term disastrous, staying is going to be long-term and short-term disastrous. So, yeah, cut and run.
Feb. 20th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
I esteem YOU.

it's the new emo phrase of forgiveness.
Feb. 20th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
If Odom isn't (a) incompetent, or (b) puppy-dog loyal to the administration, then he must be an evoislamomooninitefascist.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
Take a look at the comments: that's EXACTLY what people say about him. One guy says that every word out of Odom's mouth amounts to "I hate Amerca, America is bad". The guy is a motherfucking lieutenant-general in the Army, and served the country his whole adult life, but because he disagrees with the disastrous policies of a temporary civilian leadership that is getting Americans killed, he hates America. Unreal.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
No complimentary signed copy of Hoo Hoo's latest book for Odom then.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Not unless he pays full price at the door for Blogging Man '07 will he get that book!
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
I don't think Hewitt really esteems Odom. Legally speaking, you have to declare that you esteem someone three times in a public forum for it to be official.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC)
I wish I had a Chico Marx icon
I dunno, boss. That-a Hoowit, he seema pretty esteemed to me.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)
That was truly a flawless victory (followed by a fatality). Too bad Andrew Sullivan wasn't there, too.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
And it seems to you’re advocating a kind of policy where you have a president who jumps off the Empire State Building, and he goes by the 50th floor, and he says I’m on course.

Odom perfectly describes Bush with that line. However, while I completely agree with what he's saying, there was something about that interview that left me a little uncomfortable. Perhaps it's because the straight answers that the general is giving aren't, in many instances, definitive or absolute. And maybe I'm so used to hearing absolutist rhetoric about this war that his answers just don't jive with the drone of hard-line windbaggery that permeates the national discussion.

On the other hand, I am keen to sit up and listen whenever a general wants to talk opinions about Iraq, Iran, international relations, etc. In fact, these are the people that everyone ought to be listening to. I was particularly intrigued by his story about Gen. Goodpastor and their respective assessments of what an officer should do when he's faced with a civilian, political superior executing policies with which he completely disagrees.
Feb. 20th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
I usually can't stomach much townhall stuff, but I really liked reading this.
Feb. 20th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
Hewitt doesn't usually have someone on his show who's not a talking greeting card for the right.
Feb. 20th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Favourite quote:
"WO: And so you can sit there and fantasize any scale you want to, to scare people into continuing to do stupid things."
Feb. 20th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Is it really legal to verb esteem like that?
Feb. 21st, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
The conclusion is precious:

"OK, General Odom. I haven't been able to bog you down with my context-free interpretation of history, and my depth of knowledge about the 12th Imam's political agenda, but here's my last last last last question."

[audible sigh] "Shoot."

"You could be wrong about all of this, right?"


"Aha! So you admit it! You could be wrong! I win! I win! I win!"
Mar. 7th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
Hewitt's a child
For a law professor, poor Hugh is surprisingly inept at arguing his point at times. I've heard him lob these childish ambushes more than once, mostly ad hominem attacks in his weak attempt to discredit the guest. He falls on his face more than any other right wing talk show host I've ever heard. Andrew Sullivan and Helen Thomas both convincingly pimped slapped him and refuted all his idiotic statements. He's a jerk and a bully, and not funny at all.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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