Paul Mulshine – The Star Ledger November 20, 2011
On “Face the Nation” he made host Bob Schieffer sound like the tired TV talking head he is.
A transcript reveals this exchange on the subject of Iran:
Schieffer: Am I correct that your idea of how to discourage Iran from building nuclear weapons is to be nicer to Iran’s leaders? Is that correct?
Paul: No, I think we have 12,000 diplomats … I’m suggesting that maybe we ought to use some of them but just think of how we prevented a nuclear war with the Soviets when the Soviet missiles were put in Cuba. We didn’t say we’re going to attack you. Kennedy and Khrushchev talked and they made a deal. You take your weapons out of Cuba, we’ll take them out of Turkey. That’s the kind of talk I want. I think the greatest danger now is for us to overreact and this is what I’m fearful of. Iran doesn’t have a bomb. There’s no proof, regardless of this recent report. And for us to overreact and to talk about bombing Iran, that’s much more dangerous. We’ve gotten the Libyans to get rid of their nuclear power and nuclear weapons and look at what happened to them. So we’ve got to understand that.
Schieffer: Mr. Paul I have to interrupt for a second. No one has suggested in the US government that we’re going to bomb Iran. What they’ve said is that we’re going to impose very tough sanctions. You are against sanctions on Iran. Is that correct?
Paul: Yes because sanctions are the initial step to war. I was opposed from all the sanctions for ten years and the bombing that was occurring with Iraq because I said it would lead to war, but if you say nobody’s suggesting it, why don’t you listen to the debates? Listen to the other candidates.
Schieffer: Mr. Paul, may I correct you? I am listening to the debates. You know there’ve been some candidates who’ve talked about that, including Mr. Romney. The United States government has not said we’re going to bomb Iran.
Paul: No, obviously they haven’t said that but the implication is that nothing is off the table.
Schieffer: Well yes alright. Let’s move on then.
No, let’s not move on. This is a fascinating exchange. Schieffer’s knee-jerk defense of the Beltway consensus on Iran tells you all you need to know about the Beltway crowd. There really is no difference between the parties when it comes to the embrace of the liberal internationalist approach to foreign policy.
And observe Schieffer’s tactics. Note the way in which Schieffer tries to dumb down Paul’s views to the low level of television news, such as when he asserts Paul is urging that the U.S. “be nicer to Iran’s leaders.”
Paul corrects him. Then the real fun begins when Scheiffer states that “No one has suggested in the US government that we’re going to bomb Iran.”
Hold the heck on. Hasn’t this guy ever talked to Hillary? As this article shows, the secretary of state has toed the neocon line in repeating the mantra that “it is the policy of this administration that Iran cannot be permitted to have a nuclear weapon and no option has ever been taken off the table.”
You would have to be entirely ignorant about the way diplomats speak to not understand that this is a suggestion not just of a possible bombing attack but of a possible attack with nuclear weapons.
Paul responds by pointing out the obvious: That the current debate in the GOP primary campaign centers on whether the U.S. should continue that policy. Ron Paul thinks we shouldn’t.
Instead of addressing the issue, which could have led to an interesting exchange, Schieffer now mischaracterizes his own prior statement from just seconds before. Now he states he was arguing that, “The United States government has not said we’re going to bomb Iran.”
Ron Paul never said it did. He did say the administraion has suggested such an attack with that “all options open” language. This is true and Schieffer knows it. So he changes the subject.
He does that quite a bit in this interview. Though it is brief, you see Schieffer employing over and over a thoroughly dishonest approach to dialogue. Instead of asking the interviewee a question, he mischaracterizes his views.
The passage right before the one I quoted concerned the motivations of the 9/11 attackers. Like a typical neocon, Schieffer rehashes the neocon spin to the effect that Paul is blaming the U.S. for the attack.
This has been talked into the ground already in the debates and Paul has refuted it every time. In fact he simply restated the reasons given by the attackers. After Paul states that in precise prose, note how Schieffer tries to caricature that view and then refuse a chance at rebuttal:
Schieffer: But you are saying it was the government’s fault. That basically what you’re saying. Let me move on from something else …
Paul was saying nothing of the sort. This is the sleaziest of stunts on Schieffer’s part. In fact if you are a reader of my column and blog, you note that I have a prohibition in my comments policy of this exact sort of thing:
5. I can’t stand commenters who say I wrote something I didn’t write. Please cite my exact words. Do not paraphrase my views and do not allude to something you think I may have written.
You can’t get away with this sort of thing in print.But it’s what I would expect from a TV talking head. Like other TV talking heads, Schieffer is simply not up to the job. It’s not so much that Schieffer has a bias here but that he is clearly uncomfortable in trying to address ideas he has not heard addressed inside the Beltway bubble.
But I’m not complaining. That’s why you need us inkstained wretches.