11.25.12

7 Best Moments From Sunday Talk (Video)

John McCain goes easy on Susan Rice, Lindsey Graham opens the door to a revenue increase, Ben Affleck brings attention to war in the Congo, and more in this week’s video roundup.

McCain: Obama, Not Rice, ‘Is the Problem’

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After weeks of attacking U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice over her initial comments on the Benghazi attack and vowing that she would never receive his vote to become secretary of State, John McCain declined to say Sunday whether he would, in fact, give Rice his blessing should she be nominated to the post. Instead, the senator said on Fox News Sunday that Rice deserves an opportunity to explain herself, and that “the problem is the president of the United States.” “I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself and her position,” McCain said.

Frank Goes After GOP Senator Over Petraeus Scandal

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On CNN’s State of the Union, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank sparred with Republican Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over the Petraeus scandal (remember that?). Hutchison told the room of retiring lawmakers (of which she is one) that she’s “very worried” about how the initial FBI investigation was handled, and wants to know more “about what those first emails really were” and why the president wasn’t immediately informed. Frank took exception with Hutchison’s vague but accusatory language, and fired off a series of questions in her direction: “Are you suggesting there was some coverup, that the FBI are playing games?” he asked. “I think we ought to be explicit about this. I’m troubled by the implication of your statement and are you suggesting that something wasn’t legitimate here? Because that would trouble me.” Frank went on to take exception with the scandal itself, quipping: “I think that if this was an investigation into David Petraeus’s bank account instead of his sex life, all of us would be paying a lot less attention to it.”

Graham Disagrees With Grover Norquist (Kind Of)

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Lindsey Graham knows how to get a headline. On ABC’s This Week, the Republican senator from South Carolina told George Stephanopoulos that he would violate Grover Norquist’s infamous pledge to never raise taxes. “I will violate the pledge,” Graham said. Then, for dramatics and bonus patriotism points, he added “for the good of the country.” But context is key: Graham’s next phrase was that he’d only do it “if Democrats do entitlement reform,” and he had just finished a lecture in which the words “I will not raise tax rates” were employed in that exact order. Graham’s openness to “violate the pledge” did not, in fact, deal with its central tenet of tax increases, but with his willingness to cap deductions, a policy that Norquist also opposes.

Levin: Egypt’s Morsi Both a Partner and a Problem

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Carl Levin, the chairman of Senate’s Armed Services Committee, played some clever political football on Meet the Press Sunday when asked about Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab. “Is Morsi a partner of the United States, or a problem?” host David Gregory asked. “Yes,” Levin said. “Some of both … We don’t obviously want to see a democratically elected autocrat take the place of an undemocratically elected dictator,” Levin said. But, “on the other hand,” he added, “there are some real plusses that are possible here,” discussing Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Affleck to America: Pay Attention to Eastern Congo

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Ben Affleck was on This Week Sunday to talk about a troubled foreign country—and, no, it wasn’t Iran. The Argo director took to the shiny talk show set to discuss this Eastern Congo Initiative, which has been working since 2009 to build back a society torn apart by war. Appearing with Democratic representative Adam Smith, Affleck urged Americans to take action against a complex and unrelenting war that has taken, he said, three million lives. “You can imagine if this was happening in Western Europe, this would be a galactic event,” Affleck said. “If any American were to go to that country and stand and see what was happening there, they would insist that we do what we could.”

Kearns Goodwin: What Would Lincoln Do?

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The theatrical release of Lincoln means musing about how President Obama compares to his hero and predecessor. And what better person to ask about Lincoln than the author of Team of Rivals, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin? On Face the Nation, Kearns Goodwin said that Obama need not hesitate to use the power vested in the White House to—unflinchingly—get Congress to agree with him. “You do everything you can” to get the votes you need, she said—even “the low-level stuff.”  “It’s messy, it’s compromising, it doesn’t look pretty, but it gets the job done.”

Journalist Accuses Fox of Racism

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The man whom Bill O’Reilly called “one of the biggest race baiters in America” sat down with Howard Kurtz on Reliable Sources and accused Fox News of having “a consistent programming strategy” of “unfairly singl[ing] out instances where black people seem to be threatening or seem to have done something untoward.” Eric Deggans, a television critic at the Tampa Bay Times and author of Race Baiter: How The Media Wields Words to Divide a Nation, wondered why the network failed to take decisive disciplinary action against O’Reilly and former host Glenn Beck. “You really have to question how seriously they [Fox] are worried about how these incidents are viewed and whether or not they’re willing to at least crack down enough to make sure they don’t happen again,” he said.