Ha we begin with "Today Dick Cheney weighs in on government surveillance," so you know that this interview will be more ironic than a gale of anvils, falling from the sky, onto your life. Later we will hear about how "the White House will arm the Syrian rebels," which just goes to show that Dick Cheney's White House didn't actually corner the market in dangerous idiocy.
Hope you are like me, and you actually enjoy things the worse they get!
Anyway, let's get on with Cheney and today's exercise in anvil-dropping irony. Wallace begins with some light nuzzling, a discussion of the recent NSA disclosures, and Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the details of a program that we'd all essentially lapsed into a dull, hopeless acceptance -- led there by guys like ol' Doc Strangelove here, who says that Snowden is a "traitor" who provided "damage to the national security of the United States." Wallace asks him if he thinks Snowden is a "spy from the Chinese," and of course Cheney says he is "suspicious." He also darkly mutters about whether or not Snowden "had some help at the agency."
Obviously, the whole discussion in the media over Snowden vacillates between the media being really bored and saying that there is nothing to see here, and then having various officials wax melodramatically about the danger of these leaks. Hamilton Nolan wrote a good piece on this phenomenon here. I'll add the media is covering a lot of the same ground when the Wikileaks dumped those Afghanistan War documents, the media was all "Ho-hum, you mean you didn't know the war in Afghanistan was going poorly? Because we have known for a long time. So bored." And then they found those documents in Bin Laden's possession, having been procured from WikiLeaks, and now we're supposed to think of those disclosures as a profoundly dangerous thing that Bradley Manning did.
Cheney says that he doesn't "think it will be a one-off disclosure." He also thinks that the U.S. needs to be super-aggressive with China to get Snowden back. So, he's not like a spy plane, for which you write the "Letter of the Two Sorries."
If Chris Matthews were here, he'd be pronouncing Doc's last name "Chee-knee."
Wallace moves on to talking about some conservative criticism of the spying program, such as Rand Paul's objections. Cheney says Rand Paul is wrong because 9/11, and then he launches into some awesome old talking points from the turn of the century. Wallace briefly takes up for civil libertarians, asking why the program can't just focus on "the bad guys" and why it has to involve J. Edgar Hoovering up information from law-abiding citizens. Cheney scoffs and says that all the NSA gets is a "big bag of numbers" that becomes a "box of numbers" and the NSA just sits the box of numbers in a room until they need it and then they go rifling through it, and hey, don't you know that if we had the big box of numbers back on 9/11 there wouldn't have been a 9/11 (which is what inspired the creation of the big box of numbers in the first place).
Wallace then asks, well, if that's true why is this kept secret? "Why not explain the general outline of the program, so Americans can debate it?" Cheney says that he say problems with Americans debating this, because it reveals the program to "the adversary." But they all know, now, anyway. Wallace asks, "What right do you think the people have to know what the government is doing?" Cheney says that they get the right to vote. Ha, yes, between two choices, both of which agree up and down with these programs. That is a rigorous check and balance right there.
Wallace points out that intelligence officials have tried to get some contours of the program out there. This is the bare minimum of information: the program has stopped 20 incidents (which is just a marketing claim), there were "fewer then 300 phone numbers checked" and "all data is destroyed every five years." Cheney naturally think that this thumbnail "provides useful information to the enemy." Which is funny, because it doesn't provide useful information to the American people. (Who for all I know, qualifies as a "enemy" in Cheney's view.)
Cheney goes on to compare this to breaking the codes of the Germans in World War II, but the Constitution doesn't offer Germans any protections. It's a weird comparison.
Wallace points out that President Obama once believed that these programs were unnecessary, and now he's taken them unto his bosom as his own -- though he insists that he has "scrubbed them" and "increased safeguards." Whatever that means, because as you know we are not allowed to know, specifically, what safeguards were enhanced.
Cheney says he is not in the loop enough to know how the programs were changed, an admission that should preclude him from having all these opinions. He nevertheless says that Obama's lieutenants in these programs are all awesome. He doesn't care what Obama says, because he finds everything he says to be "not credible," which you can barely hear over the sound of about fifty anvils crashing to earth.
Wallace says that "some say" there's a "disconnect" between Obama defending these NSA programs and his recent suggestion that the global war on terror is over. Cheney naturally thinks that the idea that war on terror is over is wrong, and the war is not winding down, and we will be at war with Eurasia forever. "Benghazi is proof positive that al Qaeda is operating in Libya," says Cheney, who will likely go on to say that the U.S. should hand lethal weapons to al Qaeda members in Syria.
All I can say is that Dick Cheney used to be a big fan of prematurely declaring a war over.
Now we'll get to talk to Cap'n Cracked a little bit about the fun new war with Syria that we may be having by summer's end. I bet you can't wait for it! You know, the way the last fun war we had with another country led to the deaths of four Americans, whereupon the entire nation convulsed in a combination of outrage and fake-concern -- that totally demonstrated that we are definitely mature enough to handle another big war. If anything, I can't see why we are not rushing off to get into a war with Syria today.
Cheney says that Syria has not been "well handled," but everyone should be listening to John McCain, Sunday Morning bombardier, who wants us all up in the air over Syria, going "PEW PEW, PEW PEW!" Cheney wanted to support the opposition sooner, because money grows on trees in America and our military isn't involved in any other quagmires and when a few people died as a natural consequence of intervenining in Libya, lawmakers didn't collapse in a display of drooling apoplexy.
Cheney, by the way, is very much a Benghazi Apoplectic Who Wants To Go To Syria Anyway. Ol' "Out Of The Loop," here, nevertheless maintains that everyone did the wrong thing in Benghazi. (Cheney's professed solution to Benghazi, by the way, is to simply have a pre-cognitive awareness of what's going to happen.)
He also thinks that Susan Rice, "going out and peddling the party line" is a de facto "cover-up." Take cover, because another 76 anvils are making their way down to earth from high in the sky.
For whatever reason, we are going to ask Dick Cheney about that time a "conservative Republican" IRS manager was all, "I will authorize the profiling of these Tea Party groups," and we got a hilarious story of bureaucratic incompetence that, for some nimrods, was "the next Watergate," while simultaneously saying "it's totally okay if the people that did the next Watergate put all your telephony metadata into a box for their own amusement."
Cheney says that the IRS scandal is one of the "worst abuses of power imaginable" and I can't hear much of the rest of what he is saying because there is a deluge of anvils, crashing to earth, all over Washington. You should see it. The clanging and clattering is deafening.
The anvil drop is briefly interrupted by someone calling Dick Cheney on his cell-phone. Needless to say, Cheney is sure that the IRS was directed to abuse power from "higher-up," because he has a lot of similar experience in such abuses, I'm guessing.
Should reporters be held liable for stories that disclose classified information? He seems to think that newspapers should be investigated and prosecuted for such things, and that no one has "ever had the nerve" to try it. He reckons that the laws allowing the government to do that should either be enforced or taken off the books.
There are some light post-game snuggling over Cheney's heart transplant, which I guess runs on the power generated from anvils falling from the sky.
Blather-lather time, with Brit Hume and Jane Harman and Karl Rove and Juan Williams.
Wallace points out that the soft-palmed plutocrats at the Wall Street Journal have squinched up their pince-nez and declared that we must supply the sketchy al-Qaeda goons who are now dba "Syrian rebels" more weapons, and make them deadly, hop to! Hume agrees. "The big talk about red lines might be for nought," he complains, adding that it is a "loss for [Obama] and a loss for the country." See, getting involved in Syria is a huge opportunity!
Harman says that she disagrees with Cheney about Susan Rice but also says that she agrees that we should have a strategy in Syria, and she goes on to say that getting involved in Syria will definitely magically help with peace between us and Russia and us and China and us and Iran. All we have to do is not do anything which causes the entire government to convulse in wild paroxysms of RegretGhazi.
Rove says we are two years too late in Syria and out credibility is damaged and I don't know it sounds to me like he's saying there's no point in getting involved now, so hooray for Karl Rove today!
"American action [in the Middle East] a few years ago might have made for a more stable situation today," says Rove, as a few last anvils fall from the sky.
Williams points out that the American people do not want America involved in another war in the Middle East, and he says that is key, but nonetheless he still wants us involved in another war in the Middle East.
Hume agrees with Williams agreeing with Hume. Hume is really mad that Ben Rhodes talked about Syria, and not Obama, because how do we know that a White House spokesman speaks for the White House. Hume says that if Obama would talk about that, opinion on Syria would "turn around." Of course, as public opinion is currently correctly calibrated with regard to Syria, that sort of action from Obama would be disastrous.
Harman thinks that getting involved in Syria would "show the Russians that we're tough," and who doubts that the Russians would tremble in fear at the sight of us spending more money and arming more of our enemies. I'm sure that when a few Americans die in Syria and all of Congress is declaring that to be the next next next next Watergate and Ghazibanging their dumb faces off, Russia is going to finally know what it is like to feel fear.
WATCH OUT RUSSIA! WE GOT PLENTY OF FUTILE, POINTLESS FAILURES UP OUR SLEEVE.
Rove and Harman are fighting, which is too bad, because both basically agree that we should piss away some more of our fleeting future in Syria.
Now we'll have some limp noodle-shaking over the NSA flap. Harman thinks that "this is one of the rare and true situations where the Congress can take a victory lap," by which she means that the program is awesome and the checks and balances are definitely in place. She does however, think that the matter is worth debating and is open to the suggestion that the surveillance should be narrowed. Nevertheless, she is sure that Snowden has hurt the nation by telling the nation what is being done to the nation.
Rove says that being against NSA surveillance is the same thing as being against basic law enforcement methods, which are largely underpinned by warrants and judicial decisions that are completely transparent, and which can be debated publicly. He says that surely we're all used to "cop dramas" on teevee where the po-po are "pinging cellphones" and what not. (I think that these cop dramas would be boring if they included a lot of the procedural-paperwork scenes, though?)
Anyway, if we can accept the way crimes get solved on television, then we should be able to accept that stuff in real life, according to Karl Rove.
"You've got to be consistent," says Rove, and we're somehow all out of anvils.
Williams says that the "young people" are totally into Snowden, but he is "no Daniel Ellsberg." Wallace quips, "Do you need to explain to the young people who Daniel Ellsberg is," but I'm pretty sure that the "young people" are the ones who would explain to this panel who Ellsberg is, not the reverse.
At any rate, Ellsberg is fully on Snowden's side, so it's too bad that the world does not work in the same way as it does in the movie ANNIE HALL, because that would have been a fun moment for Ellsberg to wander through and admonish Williams, "You know nothing of my work."
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW
We now make one of our last trips to the Genius Bar of American Prattling, to talk about the fun war in Syria that we'll be having soon, the surveillance state, and Hillary Clinton's campaign to do something. Joining Matthews will be Chuck Todd and Katty Kay and Kelly O'Donnell and David Ignatius. Can you feel the excitement?
Matthews wants to know why we are going into Syria now. Ignatius says, "Syria is the problem from hell, as one analyst has described it." Tell that analyst to stop plagiarizing Samantha Power, and get his own slogans! Syria is the "Beast From Shit Lake." Syria is the "Jelly Doughnut of Disaster." Syria is "Slightly Better Than Most Cleveland Browns' Seasons." That sort of thing.
Ignatius is like, duh, of course we gots to gets to warrin' because of the chemical weapons. "Somehow the U.S. is going to have to help build an rebel army," he says, all without allowing the "extremists" who have been doing the bulk of the fighting thus far to have a place within that army. Sounds pretty easy; who doesn't want to be a part of this?
Todd says that it is "one hundred percent clear" that the American people don't want us to get involved in Syria. Aw, America! You guys are really great! Best country in the world, I always say.
"There are a lot of reasons to be involved in Syria," says Todd, whose involvement in Syria will be occasionally talking about it with dumb pundits between the "White House Soup Of The Day" segment and the pundit discussion on "What the White House soups tell us about the president's messaging strategy." Some of those reasons: we are lone superpower, humanitarian stuff, we are the world, cheeseburgers, flags.
"Assad could win," says Chuck Todd, as if the most likely result of a civil war in Syria should somehow shock us into pantslessness.
Kay says that what's fueled the administration now is a "sense of urgency." QUICK WE NEED TO MAKE SOME MISTAKES! "Now there is a prospect the Assad stays," says Kay, again referring to what was always the likeliest outcome of a civil war in Syria.
O'Donnell says that "one of the biggest changes" is the "proof of chemical weapons" because what happens if those weapons end up in the wrong hands? In order to keep weapons out of the hands of extremists we must give some extremists some weapons, that's just common sense.
Matthews says, "The question I have is 'what's our goal?'" Ignatius says that "we want to see a stable transition to a new Syrian government," which is kind of like having the goal of "breeding ponies that shit gold doubloons in my linen closet." He adds that "the biggest threat in Syria is not Assad," but it's the "rise of extremist al Qaeda fighters who have been leading the fight against Assad." Which is an argument for arming Assad. But Ignatius is pretty sure that we can just help the lovely "moderate rebel general" and everything will be hunky dory.
Matthews asks, "What would the president ask Assad to do if he were on the phone with him right now?" Ignatius says that the president would ask Assad to "be a statesman and step aside." It's significant that we're still of the mind that Assad has "statesman-like" qualities. I think that is just meritocratic elite Ignatius recognizing Assad as a member of the elite meritocracy -- which, let's face it, is where Assad and his wife were welcomed, up until the rebellion.
Matthews says, "Would we take them?" Ignatius suggests GITMO, someone else suggests Russia, someone else suggest Zimbabwe. Damn, resolving this is just gonna be so easy. (Matthews suggests, contra everyone else, that Assad is in this to the death.)
"[Assad] lives in a bubble," says Todd. Down comes another ten anvils.
Moving on to the NSA and the surveillance state. O'Donnell says that the NSA will make a big marketing push for the Panopticon by letting us know how well the Panopticon Keeps Us Safe(TM). Maybe then, people will "get beyond" their worries about the Panopticon.
Matthews and Ignatius say that the reason a President will cling to these expansive powers is that everyone will Ghazi him to death if a single terrorist attack goes off. In one breath, he says that the evidence is clear that terrorists are avoiding using the things that the NSA tracks. In the next breath, he says that the way terrorists avoid the things that the NSA tracks makes the NSA "crazy." In the ensuing breath, he says that our public debate on the Panopticon will make the terrorists wise to what the Panopticon does, even though a minute ago we were talking about a fully-tipped off gang of international terrorists who'd made adjustments.
Our national security, Ignatius says, gets by on the possibility that our enemies are "stupid." Great.
Matthews keeps talking about Hillary Clinton's "planning to run" for something, in "2016." Which is a pretty certain way of talking about something that hasn't happened yet, and probably won't happen for sure for another two years. Such is the power of joining Twitter and writing a good Twitter bio, I guess.
Matthews tells us that "Hillary Clinton is stepping out from Bill Clinton's shadow" and that you saw that this week when she "appeared this week at Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative." She gave a speech of aphorisms that Matthews has confused with a campaign speech. He offers the advice that Clinton should talk about "learning" and the stuff that makes "people want to learn stuff."
Todd says that "unlike five years ago," her "brand" is her own, and she is no longer defined by her husband. Nevertheless, Bill Clinton's Syria remarks, "stepped on" her big coming-out moment. (Maybe it wasn't a coming out moment. Also, if Bill Clinton mulling on and on about Syria is the force that's compelling us to go to war there, then history should not remember him as kindly.)
Bill Clinton, Todd assures us, didn't mean to step on Hillary Clinton's moment, assuming that's what that was.
Everyone has a good laugh, about Bill Clinton.
Ignatius says that Hillary Clinton was talking about "getting the country to come together" and "getting beyond partisanship," which is what every politician in the country says they are going to do. "That's very powerful for her," Ignatius says, for reasons he doesn't explain. Todd points out that this is all the same crap that most loser politicians say, and the ones that win are the ones that polarize.
Kay says that Clinton is attempting to portray herself as a "consensualist" but the preview for how Clinton's Republican opponents will take her on in 2016 can be seen through the prism of how they treated her after Benghazi. Also: in how they've treated her always.
Things that Chris Matthews does not know include: Todd says that Obama's favorite world leader is Angela Merkel, who he's hangin' with at the G8, baby. Achtung! Kay has been on Chris' show more than 100 times, and "every time it's been great." O'Donnell reports that there is a fear among staffers on Capitol Hill when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, because there might be an "enormous jump" in their own price for health care, leading to a brain drain. (This is not something you should worry about -- if tomorrow, every "Congressional staffer" left Washington, the city's IQ would rise by about thirty-five points.) Ignatius says that the Singaporeans are nervous about Chinese maps that delineate their maritime territory in a way that comes awful close to Singapore. He was purposely trying to be obscure, yes.
Finally, will we get a really enforceable, functioning immigration law out of the current push for immigration reform? Todd says something will pass, and it may work, because Mexico's economy is rebounding. Kay says we'll get a bill, but the number of visas for farmwork will be revised down. O'Donnell says we'll get a bill, but there will be some unforseen consequences. (There are unforseen conequences to every bill that was ever passed.) Ignatius says that we will get a bill but we'll end up getting more on the security side to make the path to citizenship palatable.
Matthews asks, "Why should Republicans support the bill?" Ignatius says, "Growth." But the real reason they'd support it is that it would cheapen labor across the board and limit labor rights and wages in the main.
This show ends July 21. I think I'm going to recap it every week until then, in tribute to the way it was always so easy and cheap to recap this very formulaic show.
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Filling in for the constantly AWOL George Stephanopoulos -- not that we can blame him, I'm sure hosting this terrible show is as bad as watching it -- is Jonathan "Lead Me By The Nose" Karl. Remember, if you feel like Karl is getting close to doing a tough interview with you, the thing to remember is that you can take a tennis ball and throw it off in the distance, and then gather your thoughts while he's bounding after it.
We begin with the fun new war in Syria into which we'll soon be a a-quagged, and Marco Rubio is here, for some reason, to talk about this.
Rubio has been wanting to arm the rebels for a long time, in the apparent belief that the "rebels" have only recently been overrun with al Qaeda-linked extremists, which -- given Libya -- is a very strange belief for Rubio to have held. Of course, now that he is of the belief that extremists form the basis of the rebellion, he's still okay with arming them.
What would President Rubio do right now? Rubio says he would have never gotten to this point, because way back at the beginning, he'd have used his secret magicks to make sure that our arms only got to the "good rebels" and that the "bad rebels" didn't get to play in any of our reindeer games, something that Rubio would have enforced, I'm guessing, without putting boots on the ground, because of other magic spells he can cast, like everyone in his super-wizard family.
Nevertheless, he still thinks that we should give arms to the rebels, no matter who gets them.
What does Rubio think about the new elected President of Iran. Rubio says that "a political moderate in Iran is not the same thing as what we'd call a political moderate in the U.S." That said, he says he hopes that things change, because the Iranian people "want to be a part of the twenty=first century" and it would be shame of those people got bombed by Americans because reasons.
Now we talk about immigration. Karl asks if he supports his own bill. Rubio says, "Well, obviously, I think it's an excellent starting point, and I think 95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go. But there are elements that need to be improved. This is how the legislative process is supposed to work. You offer an idea, you get public input and the input of your other colleagues. From these criticisms or observations come out new ideas about how to make it better, and of course you can't ignore that."
And then you get the poison amendment that scuttles the whole thing, because America. Still Rubio is hopeful: "Look, the vast majority of Americans, the vast majority of conservative Republicans are prepared to support immigration reform, but only if we can ensure that we're not going to have another wave of illegal immigration in the future. And so I think they have pointed to valid criticisms of how the border security plan is structured in the bill, and quite frankly very reasonable ways to address it."
Karl asks if he'll vote for the bill, though, if the current language on border security stays, and Rubio says that he won't get into hypotheticals, etc., but the current debate they're having is just fine and he's pretty sure that the bill will either pass with "strong bipartisan support" or they'll keep working on it as long as it takes to get there, because there's no way it will pass the House, to Rubio's estimation, without "strong bipartisan support" in the Senate.
It will not pass the House, in any event.
Karl points out that all the dumb little trolls in Crackpotland -- like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson -- are calling him names, and Rubio steps up and says, "Well, I think it is important to remember that on virtually every other issue, I agree" with those people. PROFILE IN COURAGE, BABY.
Karl asks Rubio if he thinks that Chuck Schumer is "playing him" and Rubio is all, "I...I don't know what that even means." Karl probably thought Rubio was gonna answer, "OH MAN, YOU GOT ME, I AM TOTALLY A PUPPET OF CHUCK SCHUMER."
Karl asks if the President's recent speech in support for immigration reform is "helpful." Rubio says that he didn't hear the speech and so he can't comment on it.
Then there are some questions about the Miami Heat.
Because, Karl: "Before you go I have GOT to ask you about the Miami Heat." Rubio easily deduces why: the game is on ABC, and MUST PROMOTE SYNERGY. Well, Rubio thinks the Heat are great and LeBron James is awesome and he expects the Heat to win in six games. So there's that, then.
Now we'll have a "Let's Invade Syria" panel with George Will and Jeffrey Goldberg and Martha Raddatz and Jeremuy Bash, of the hit show "Franklin and Bash."
Will notes that Obama is now wrong on Syria by agreeing at this late stage to get into an intervention which he was rightly declining to get involved in. Goldberg, on the other hand, thinks that we should have long been involved in Syria, and he thinks that all we're doing now is "dipping a toe in." "Be in or be out," he says, "But don't play around in this." Yeah, ARM THOSE AL QAEDA DUDES SO HARD, BARACK! GET YOUR WAR ON!
Franklin and Bash says the Assad "barrelled across the red line" and now we "have to act" and Obama is being more "careful" than "reluctant" and that everyone's decided that "now is the right time to arm the rebels."
Raddatz says that sending the arms we are going to send won't make a difference, and we need to have a no-fly zone, which "would be a very big deal," to her estimation. I'll say! A no-fly zone would be us going to war with Syria!
"It would be a huge game-changer," she says. Good thing we can all talk about war so frivolously.
Franklin and Bash sarcasms, "Of course, these are imperfect options. Thank you for pointing that out." He fights with Raddatz over whether chemical weapons were the deciding factor for getting involved in the new Syrian quagmire, suggesting that it's really more about Assad, "retaking areas." Will interrupts and asks, regardless of what's going on, "how does this change our national interest?"
WILL: George W. Bush undertook two exercises in regime change in Iraq and afghanistan. Libya now, followed by Syria, two regime change exercises by the Obama administration. And there's no denying that regime change has to be the outcome here, which is why poor John Kerry, the secretary of state, is out there trying to get a conference together as though there's a congruence of interest between the Russians and United States. There isn't. We're on opposite sides.
Goldberg says that the problem in Syria has gotten too big for any one country to handle, which is to my mind a good enough reason to let almost any other country in the world handle it, if they so choose. "You're talking about Hezbollah and al-Qaeda battling it out on the Syrian battlefield," he says, "How do we interpose ourselves into that? A no-fly zone? A no-fly zone is not going to be enough."
Franklin and Bash is all "ALL THE MORE REASON WE CAN'T STAND BACK, Y'ALL." LET'S JUST GET STRAIGHT UP STUPID UP IN THIS PIECE. He wants to give "direct military support" to "General Idriss" who is I guess the one moderate dude who we are supposed to believe is magical enough to make everything okay. If we just arm him, there will never be any problems in Syria ever again, trust us.
Karl finally changes the subject to the Iranian election, and Goldberg says that the results of the election are moot and the idea that the new president is a moderate has to be taken with a grain of salt because it's a "fake election in a fake democracy" and the "Supreme Leader" is probably the supreme leader, otherwise they'd have given him a less awesome sounding title.
Franklin and Bash says that the intelligence community is "very, very worried" that Edward Snowden is going to defect to China and that the Chinese will soon have Snowden's thumb drive -- which only contains information about the surveillance state that's totally boring because we already knew about it.
Forty more minutes of this horsecrap, but luckily we've switched to the vapid "political panel" and thus will have not much of import to recall here, for America. This panel includes Donna Brazile and Newt Gingrich and George Will and Luis Gutiérrez.
First, Syria. Did Bill Clinton "force Obama's hand?" Brazile says no, and that the White House was already on a "two-track" strategy in Syria and that the White House is being very "cautious." Gingrich says that nothing the White House does is "methodical or careful" and Obama doesn't listen to the generals. Karl points out that the generals are advising against intervening in Syria. Gingrich slides by that, and calls it "a very badly thought out process."
Gutiérrez says he doesn't really have an opinion, and there is no great solution in Syria. He says that the strongest fighters in Syria, against Assad, are al Qaeda extremists.
Gutiérrez: I think it would be the worst scenario, is that we do arm our proxies, our good rebels, and then the al Qaeda start fighting the American proxy good rebels. And you know what Assad says to himself, great, I now have split my opposition. So, look, if you take Iraq, we saw what happened in Iraq. We had, what, 150,000 American men and women there and during that time, over 300,000 Iraqis died in the ensuing civil war. What makes you think that our involvement is somehow going to solve the problem? So what I say is, look, we really need a diplomatic solution, and it seems to me that the only place we can move today is to force the hands with Russia and with Putin to find a solution that can end the Assad regime.
Will says, "Well, then the policy should be just don't do something, stand there, because you can always make matters worse."
There is a lot of crosstalk and argument that essentially boils down to "No one on this panel really has anything useful to say about this matter." Gingrich makes a comparison to the Spanish Civil War that is interesting only to him.
Meanwhile, we turn to immigration reform, where John Boehner thinks he might actually pass a bill, despite the well-armed rebels he has to deal with every day.
Karl asks Gingrich is Boehner should proceed with a vote, without the support of a majority of Republicans. Gingrich says, "No. And I don't think he will. I think John Boehner will find a way to get a majority of Republicans and find a way to get a majority of Democrats, and there will be a more conservative bill than the Senate, and it will be a bill that is stronger on border security than the Senate."
Karl is skeptical that a GOP House will cast a "yea" vote for a bill that includes a path to citizenship, and Gingrich says "depending on how long the path is and what the circumstances are," sure they will.
Gutiérrez says that the Hispanic Democrats in the House are going to meet with Boehner this week, and Gutiérrez says that he's looking forward to it and that is hopeful that Boehner is serious. He sounds pretty optimistic about it.
Brazile thinks that the bill will get pulled to the right in the House (so does everyone). Will says that the bill is a "complicated Rubik's cube" (as opposed to a simple one) that will come down to "borders and benefits."
Will says it's also about the Ghazis: "The question of border security is now tangled up with the IRS and the Justice Department, and the general pervasive distrust of the executive branch. Because what the bill says is, the executive branch will certify if the border is secure. I don't believe that the Republicans in Congress are going to take that. They're going to say -- they're going to vote for a bill or against a bill, whether or not it has Congress shall certify, not the executive branch, because no one trusts the executive branch anymore."
We break for a bunch of commercials, and we come back to the part where the show begins to run out of steam. Gingrich has opinions on Chris Christie, so does George Will. Donna Brazile does as well. Some of those opinions relate to 2016. None are particularly interesting. You can probably guess them.
Everyone is very excited about Hillary Clinton's twitter bio. Jonathan Karl is really doing a good job acting melodramatically about it. "WAS THE 'TBD...' IN HER BIO A DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY? WAS IT? OMG WAS IT!!?!?!"
Gutiérrez has opinions on all of this stuff too.
Bloomberg is going after Democrats who voted against the background checks bill. Brazile says that Bloomberg is trying to "level the playing field" and pressure some of these people to flip their votes if a future vote comes up. That said, she doesn't like the strategy.
Gingrich doesn't like the structural inequities of the campaign finance system, an opinion he's had ever since he ended up being the victim of those structural inequities.
And that's it, for another week, unless you want me to recap the special "Jeb Bush talks about his dad for Father's day part?" Fine. Jeb says his dad was "In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jon Karl, Bush spoke about Father’s Days spent in the Bush household and called the 41st president “the best dad and the best man I’ve ever met” and "a humble guy" and has "led an incredible life since 1993” and "he’s in a good place" and "mentally alert” and "spiritually in a place that we should all envy.”
So envy him! Envy him right now!