There was clarity, all right ...
I scoured the news, beyond the shouting headlines of how the top tier candidates wouldn't commit to ending the Iraq Invasion and Occupation in their first terms, and it appears I may have been the only one to noticed the hatchet job Little Timmy Russert pulled during the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate.
Who was Russert carrying the water for?
Was it the Martha's Vineyard crowd, or did Dick Cheney's office give him marching, or in this case, hatcheting, orders.
Roughly 90+ minutes into the debate, Russert, with a look like someone said to him how much the Buffalo Bills suck, lasered into to candidates Mike Gravel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, with extremely pointed questioning, that he did not pose to any of the other candidates.
Questioning that carried the tone of "You don't belong here" and "Who do you think you are, running for President."
RUSSERT: I wanted to ask Senator Gravel—you talked about running for president of the United States. In 1980, your condo business went bankrupt.
RUSSERT: In 2004, you filed for personal bankruptcy...
RUSSERT: ... leaving $85,000 in credit bills unpaid.
RUSSERT: How can someone who did not take care of his business, could not manage his own personal finances, say that he is capable of managing the country?
GRAVEL: Well, first off, if you want to make a judgment of who can be the greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can just look at the people up here. Many of them have done very, very well in public office.
I left the Senate no better than when I went in. Now, you say the condo business. I will tell you, Donald Trump has been bankrupt 100 times. So I went bankrupt once in business. And the other—who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills and they deserved it because I used the money...
They deserved it—and I used the money to finance the empowerment of the American people with a national initiative, so you can make the laws.
Now, Tim, let me just point one thing out. You were asking about special interests.
RUSSERT: You’ve made your point.
GRAVEL: Well, I wanted to make a better point.
RUSSERT: We’ll leave it at that, because I’ve got to give everyone a chance.
He then turned to Kucinich, with the same look and a glint of "Gotcha" in his eyes.
Fortunately, Kucinch didn't play it for laughs, volleying back and shoving Russert's bullshit back down his throat;
RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich, when you were mayor of Cleveland, you let Cleveland go into bankruptcy, the first time that happened since the Depression. The voters of Cleveland rewarded you by throwing you out of office and electing a Republican mayor of Cleveland.He missed his time. Little Timmy Russert would probably look quite stylish in a brown shirt.
How can you claim that you have the ability to manage the United States of America when you let Cleveland go bankrupt?
KUCINICH: You know, Tim, that was NBC’s story. Now I want the people to know what the real story was.
I took a stand on behalf of the people of Cleveland to save a municipal electric system. The banks and the utilities in Cleveland, the private utilities, were trying to force me to sell that system.
And so on December 15th, 1978, I told the head of the biggest bank, when he told me I had to sell the system in order to get the city’s credit renewed, that I wasn’t going to do it because, you know, I remember where I came from. I remembered my parents counting pennies to pay the utility bills in one of the many apartments we lived in.
And so I know why I went into public office. I went in to stand up for the people. And the people in Cleveland in 1994 asked me to come back to public life because at that point they expanded a municipal electric system that the banks demanded that I sell.
KUCINICH: And I showed the ability to stand up for the people.
You know, my campaign in ‘94 was “Because he was right.” And people put me in the Ohio Senate for that reason. ‘96, it was “Light up Congress,” as a symbol of saving the municipal electric system. And this year, it’s going to be “Light up America,” because I’m going to challenge those interest groups.
I put my job on the line. How many people would be willing to put their job on the line in the face of pressure from banks and utilities?
As this story gets told, people will want me to be their next president, because they’ll see in me not only the ability to take a stand, but the ability to live with integrity.
Bonus Links You Won't Find On Russert's Little White Board
Jack Shafer: How To Beat Tim Russert; Get inside his head and shake vigorously.
James Wolcott: When White America Wants Answers, Tim Russert Coughs Up the Questions.
Michael Scherer: What you missed while watching the new "Bionic Woman"; Salon watches the latest (1970s TV edition) Democratic presidential debate so you don't have to: A better, stronger, faster Clinton, a kung fu Kucinich and more.