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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fran Townsend and Mara Liasson

As Bush-43 Administration public spokesmen go, I haven't seen any who have impressed me more than Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend on Fox News Sunday this morning. A former prosecutor, she was sharp and articulate, exuding competence and confidence on national security issues.

And she just looks mah-vellous, which isn't a job requirement, but doesn't hurt in terms of being an effective communicator.

National Security Adviser Fran Townsend

(Yeah, I'm mildly smitten — two screencaps worth, anyway, albeit from a July appearance I missed. So what of it?)

National Security Adviser Fran Townsend

For another notably candid statement on that same program from another elegant woman, here's Fox and NPR contributor Mara Liasson, speaking of the new Osama bin Laden videotape, after Brit Hume had said bin Laden sounded like nothing more than a madman and a crackpot (including on global warming and sub-prime mortgage markets):

But he's still here! And that's a problem. And his networks, or at least, networks that have been inspired by him, have expanded. And whether or not they can carry out an attack, they certainly can plan one, which we saw by the arrests in Germany. So I think that, you know, on this sixth anniversary, it's — terrorism is as much a threat as ever. No, there hasn't been another attack on U.S. soil, which is good. But I do think that you're going to see that the 9/11 hold on the American political debate has really changed. And I thought — you saw John Edwards this week, talking quite, you know, dismissively of the Administration's policy on terrorism. And I do think you will see Democrats being more willing than they ever have to break with the Administration on fighting terrorism.

Gosh, I hope so. I hope that all the Democrats bet the ranch on Americans' short memories. I hope the John Edwards approach sweeps the party. Certainly some Americans do have short memories. I just don't think they all have memories as short as, for example, Harry Reid's. And I don't think quite 50% of the voting ones do.

Posted by Beldar at 10:29 PM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Fran Townsend and Mara Liasson and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 10, 2007 3:16:04 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: A small point: you say Ms. Townsend is "National Security Advisor" in the first paragraph. This will certainly increase Stephen Hadley's insecurities, though he may see the screencaps you printed and be reassured that Ms. Townsend is actually HOMELAND Security Advisor, a very different job from Mr. Hadley's.

I haven't seen the Fox shows you mentioned where Mesdames Townsend & Liasson performed. I will take your word that they are strong communicators. But that's the problem: the need for this strong communication is at the top. The President is a classic example. He has had some shining moments, but the overall average is wretchedly low. I assert that what's needed in these second tier offices and below is less communication than an obsession with getting the clearly articulated goals from the top done. I don't know if you've read THE LOOMING TOWER by Lawrence Wright. It's a fine history of the road to 9/11, going back some sixty years. I just finished rereading it. It has a fine example of what I am talking about: John O'Neill, the FBI agent who was obsessed with stopping bin Laden & Co. and ruthlessly tried to bring his vision to life. It's anguishing at how close he came, only to be defeated by a combination of his own serious flaws, and more importantly, a bureaucratic culture that was at best indifferent, more often hostile, to fighting terrorism. I think it fair to say, that O'Neill had a great deal of trouble communicating his vision of terrorism to his superiors. But this would not have mattered if they had had the vision and given him his head. On the O'Neill level, we need action far more than words. I would argue that this is just as true even on the Townsend/Liasson level. Action on these levels is what's needed today, not more talking heads. Have you forgotten another good looker, the Hon. Condoleezza Rice? Two and half years ago, she had the chattering classes in a swoon, to the point where Dick Morris continued his effort to be always wrong by writing his notorious CONDI VS. HILLARY book, which perdicted CR would be the only nominee who could stop Hillary. How did that turn out? To be sure, Morris is a mere serial failer of IQ tests. Yet it's undeniable that Rice is easy on the eyes, sharp, hard working, great experience---and it hasn't added up to much at the State Department. She may have great results, but they seem to be in second order issues. For example, her battle to ensure that State Department people be fluent in at least two languages is a fine idea, well worth the effort she has put into it. But by itself, it isn't a tenth enough of what the State Department needs to be doing.

Nope, I stick to Theodore Roosevelt's exhortation: "Get action." Let Professor Althouse obsess with women politicos's appearance. There are much bigger fish to catch and fry.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 10, 2007 4:06:43 AM | Permalink

Thanks for the catch, Mr. Koster — duly corrected.

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