This Just In: Brian Williams is a Tool: UPDATED

UPDATE: A commentator has suggested Williams was merely comparing the two current candidates with Eisenhower and Kennedy, rather than mistakenly suggesting Eisenhower ran against Kennedy. I don’t think so, but you can watch for yourself, beginning at about the 3:22 mark. For a transcription, see below.

I just heard Brian Williams—twice—compare the contest between John McCain and Barack Obama to “Eisenhower/Kennedy.” The chief problem with this comparison is of course that Eisenhower never ran against Kennedy. Nixon ran against Kennedy.

Even a network anchor can be expected to misspeak once in a while, of course. But Williams said it twice, and even took time in between to explain the basis of his erroneous comparison: experience vs. new blood.

Williams’s gaffe (never corrected, by him or Dave) came after an unusually one-sided lambasting of Sarah Palin’s debate performance by Letterman. Dave tries to play the “equal-opportunity-offender” game, but when he really dislikes someone, he’s no good at hiding it, and it’s pretty clear he thinks Palin is a joke, and McCain’s choosing her something worse than a joke. In fact, that is basically what he said at the beginning of his interview with Williams.

Williams refused to endorse Dave’s view — which is what he should have done. He countered by paraphrasing the GOP spin — her fans like that she’s a “Washington outsider,” as governor of Alaska she had no reason to know anything about foreign policy, if she named a newspaper or magazine she read she risked offending some segment of the electorate, etc., etc.

It was fine for him to point out that not everyone agrees with Dave’s assessment, but he kind of went the extra mile — especially when he answered Dave’s question about the likelihood of voters turning out the incumbent party because of Bush’s failures by invoking 9/11. Sure the economy is ruined and Iraq has been a mistake, but remember: the Republicans protect us from terra! (Except, you know, on 9/11 itself.)

My interpretation of Williams’s “Eisenhower/Kennedy” gaffe? His subconscious just won’t allow him to compare his good friend McMaverick with Tricky Dick. War hero Eisenhower, sure.

Personally, I think Ike, who knew plenty of battle-scarred scoundrels in his day, would have seen right through McCain. Kennedy was a war hero, too, but unlike McCain, he didn’t pretend it made him into some sort of irreproachable demi-god. He once famously replied, when asked how it felt to be a hero, “I didn’t have any choice — they sank my boat.”

UPDATE: TRANSCRIPTION FROM VIDEO—Williams is speaking off the cuff here, and thus not in complete sentences, but I believe this is accurate:

DAVE: Is is fair to say that this is reminiscent of the Bob Dole campaign?

WILLIAMS: It’s fair to say this is reminiscent of maybe Eisenhower/Kennedy. Where one side is running on a more traditional–and the other side would be the long ball. To elect the young, uh vigorous of the two candidates. The more untested of the two candidates. I look at this a lot like Eisenhower/Kennedy.

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4 Responses to “This Just In: Brian Williams is a Tool: UPDATED”

  1. RBM Says:

    …And he made the same mistake back in JUNE! You have to work at being that ill informed.
    Letterman goes on and on about Palin lack of experience on the national level and do you want a beginner to take over if something would happen to McCain. You have to wonder what it is about Obama’s less-than-three years experience at the national level that gives Letterman the warm fuzzies about potentially being President–not just in the wings.

  2. Dave Says:

    I have been trying to figure this out as I also noticed the same reference from several months ago. Photos of Kennedy and Nixon debating are iconic and, if Williams’ references are more than a slip of the tongue, I am at a loss to explain it. There has to be more to this (like a beer bet at NBC news).

    I am not sure about Williams’ affiliation with the Republicans. There has been some on air tension between Williams and Tom Brokaw, with Brokaw slower to award credit to Obama in certain instances. I thought, for a network news anchor (and not a commentator… no one has to guess where Keith Olbermann’s views lie), Williams was willing to hint at several anti-McCain/Palin attitutdes on The Late Show.

  3. Urk Says:

    “You have to wonder what it is about Obama’s less-than-three years experience at the national level that gives Letterman the warm fuzzies about potentially being President–not just in the wings.”

    Maybe it’s his fairly obvious displays of: intellectual curiosity, grasp of national and international issues, understanding of the workings of government and the ethical conduct required for good governance, effectiveness as a legislator and overall steady temperament? None of this is evident in Palin & in many cases the opposite is apperant: a profound lack of a desire for knowledge except as it extends to political advantage, a history of abuses of power, and a willingness to tell lies–not half-truths or exagerations, but demonstrable falsehoods–over and over again to the public, in public.

    Reducing all of this to “experience” jsut to make some kind of equivelence is absurd. Maybe try using some kind of metric that wans’t crafted as a campaign slogan for MCCain, like “preparedness” or “competence” or “not bat-shit crazy and stupid to boot.”

  4. oldsam Says:

    What a bunch of idiots. He compared the two men with JFK and Eisenhower. He didn’t say Kennedy and Eisenhower ran against each other. He also compared Obama with Reagan in 1980, McCain all of a sudden has to be Carter because of that? Jesus freaking Maverick christ.

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