Friday, July 02, 2004


This is not fun, Paul

I caught the tail end of "Crossfire" today on CNN. It's not a program I would recommend. Except for channel-surfing, I would have missed it. Nevertheless, it was a fine moment--better than the transcript.

You know what? Liberals really are developing a backbone. If it's "something goin' around," it hasn't infected the Democrats in Congress yet--probably because most of them aren't all that liberal. But who knows when a gathering wind will puff out their sails?

Bob Novak, now best known for being the "journalist" who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, was alone on camera with his co-host Paul Begala, former counselor to President Clinton. Here's the "rush" transcript [italics are mine].

NOVAK: All right. Readers -- readers of the left wing magazine, "The Nation," might be a little shocked when they see the back page of the current issue. Even the most fanatical Bush haters might be shocked.

Yes, the drawing shows George W. Bush eating a headless child. This is inspired by a 19th century work by Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring his Children, aimed against the Spanish monarchy.

Sitting at this table, I know how emotional and relentless and mindless is the hatred directed against George W. Bush. But in the spirit of patriotism, this Fourth of July weekend, I wonder, Paul, if you can join me in deploring this treatment of any president of the United States as over the line and unacceptable?

BEGALA: In the spirit of patriotism, let me support the first amendment, which says the nation shouldn't be censored by right- wingers. And let me ask you, Mr. Novak, with your new self-founded -- newfounded self-righteousness, are you going to retract the statement you said last week on "Meet the Press," where you implied that President Clinton was involved in people's deaths over Whitewater? That's the most outrageous things I've heard said about an American president.

NOVAK: I didn't say he was engaging -- and you're lying.

BEGALA: I'll read your words.

NOVAK: And when I said that...

BEGALA: "I don't believe that the Whitewater case was ever fully investigated. People died, and I believe Bill Clinton beat the rap on Whitewater."

NOVAK: Well, I didn't say he was involved with the thing.

BEGALA: You said...

NOVAK: You...

BEGALA: ... he beat the rap and people died. Who died? Who died in Whitewater?

NOVAK: McDougal died, and...

BEGALA: He died in prison of a heart attack.

NOVAK: Well, people died (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But just a minute. You can't -- you can't say -- go on national television and accuse me of something I didn't say.

BEGALA: I read your words.

NOVAK: I did not say that, and that is a lie. And I...

BEGALA: These are your words, Mr. Novak. I read them.

NOVAK: And I'm ashamed of you for going on the air and saying that.

BEGALA: I got this from the transcript. This is the transcript from "Meet the Press", Bob.

NOVAK: That's an outrage. And it is...

BEGALA: It is an outrage. You owe Mr. Clinton an apology.

NOVAK: ... an absolute outrage because I did not say that he was responsible for those deaths. And this is not fun, Paul.

Begala's charge was that Novak implied Clinton's involvement in certain deaths. Novak's pathetic defense is that he did not say that Clinton was "responsible" for those deaths, which is not to respond to the charge. [I will update this post if a better transcript becomes available.]

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