Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bill Kristol Gets Pissed, or, How Crazy Can Susan Estrich Get?

I happened to watch Greta Van Susteren's post-debate analysis, because I liked that Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry were on the panel. In particular, I think Bill Kristol is one of the very best talking heads on TV - he's scholarly, susinct, and insightful. He is also on the board of my old research institute, college roommate and best friend of my college mentor, and a very nice person. So obviously, I'm a little biased.

Susan Estrich, on the other hand, is a wacko. I think she gets on Fox News precisely because she's a wacko. Who better to have as your token representative of the democratics than a complete lunatic? Fox News couldn't do any better (or worse, I guess). She and Teresa Heinz have to be best buddies; that is, if there's room enough in one building for the both of them.

On a personal note, Susan Estrich is also very mean. She came to a conference put on by the aforementioned research institute a few years ago. To say she was a terror would be an understatement. She yelled at everyone from the moment she got there, acted like she couldn't stand being there the whole time, and generally made the experience very unpleasant for all involved. It was clear that she enjoys making a scene, even at students' expense. I will say that she later wrote a letter of apology to the students she was particularly harsh to, but let's just say the letter wasn't quite enough to make us cool with her. So obviously, I'm biased here too.

Anyway, with that background, check out this transcript from the post-debate discussion:

ESTRICH: I also think, I’ve got to make one more point because I hate it, hate it when people don’t tell the truth. And neither my friend Bill Kristol nor my friend Rich Lowry is telling the truth tonight. Now you may agree or you may disagree with Edwards’s defense of Kerry, but he does defend the record. I refer to the transcript here. He goes on at some length defending Kerry’s record on defense. You guys, you’ve just got to tell the truth. Here it is.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well I got to let these guys respond. So Bill, I’ll start right there first with you.

BILL KRISTOL [THE WEEKLY STANDARD]: Well, I don’t respond to, I mean, I’m not on this show to be accused of not telling the truth, and I don’t--

ESTRICH: It’s right here in the transcript.

KRISTOL --no, Susan, that’s just ludicrous. John Edwards did not do much--did he defend Kerry’s vote against the ‘91 Gulf War? Did he defend Kerry’s oppositions to the defense programs? He just didn’t, and he didn’t--

ESTRICH: Yes, he did.

KRISTOL: He didn’t. I don’t believe he did. You could show me, if you want to waste a lot--

ESTRICH: I want to go back to what the Vice-President just said. “John Kerry has voted for the biggest military appropriations bill in the country’s history. He voted for the biggest intelligence appropriation. The Vice-President, when he was Secretary of Defense, cut over 80 weapons systems, including the very ones”--

KRISTOL: But that’s a really impressive defense of Kerry’s record, Susan.

ESTRICH: He’s going on and on, what do you want--

KRISTOL: He is not going on and on. There are two sentences. Look, OK, fine, you think it was a very fine defense of Kerry’s record. I’ve talked to Democrats tonight who don’t think Edwards did a terribly good job on that. But look, it’s a reasonable disagreement, you don’t accuse someone of not telling the truth, Susan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Wait, I’ve got to at least give Rich--

KRISTOL: You have a different interpretation of the debate. And I’m not amused by appearing on this show and have Susan Estrich say that I’m not telling the truth. That’s just ridiculous.

ESTRICH: Well he did defend it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well let me at least give Rich his bit. Go ahead, Rich.

RICH LOWRY [NATIONAL REVIEW]: Greta if I could just briefly also defend my truthfulness. Susan, I guess, didn’t hear what I said. What I said is that Edwards didn’t have a good explanation when he was asked by Gwen Ifill who said that France and Germany were not going to come into Iraq even if John Kerry was elected. What I said was Edwards didn’t have a good answer on that, and he didn’t. And I also said he didn’t have a good answer to the question of whether Kerry would have actually toppled Saddam Hussein or not. Susan can read from the transcript on that if she likes, but he didn’t give a clear answer on that because I don’t think anyone really knows what Kerry’s answer is on that question even as [unintelligible].

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I need to call a halt on it...

I'll try to find video if I can - the transcript doesn't do justice to how angry Kristol was. Even if Estrich was right, the way she attempted to make her point was so childish that the whole thing just ended up embarrassing her. Decent commentators shouldn't have to face the disgrace of being on a panel with her again. I doubt Kristol ever will.

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