MONSTER M*A*S*H: Demonstrators act up at 34th & Chestnut, 7:55 PM
BY JONATHAN VALANIA
PHILADELPHIA — We are live and direct from the press filing room of the Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel. All media poohbahs great and small are here: CNN, Philly Gay News, Newsweek, Phawker. I just saw the Daily News’ Dan Gross being led away by security yelling something about “Don’t Tase me, bro” — whatever that means. Maybe I should help. Fuck it. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Besides, I don’t wanna lose my spot in line for the snack table. They have pretzels. I like pretzels. Sitting to my left is Katherine Kiely of USA Today (she is VERY busy, on deadline and whatnot, so DO NOT bother her, trust me. Also, if you are ever sitting next to the guy from Gannett DO NOT ask him ‘Is everybody from Gannett a dick or just you?’ He HATES when you say that). Sitting right in front of me is Newsweek’s Howard Fineman — yes that’s his butt in the photo — I ran into him at the airport the day after the Howard Dean Scream at the Iowa Caucuses. He’s acting like he doesn’t remember me. That’s funny, so is Howard Dean. Man, it’s really true what they say: If you want a friend in Washington, get a
high-priced call girl dog.
***WHO SAID WHAT***
OBAMA: Me against Hillary is the most hyped fight since Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, except I’m Rocky.
CLINTON: No it’s more like the A-Team. I call Mr. T! I pity the fool…
EDWARDS: Who can you trust? Seriously.
DODD: Why does Senator Clinton keep voting for bills that essentially give George Bush a blank check for war-mongering?
BIDEN: All of this plays into the perception that American is in a war against Islam.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, when would you attack Iran? I need a date and a time.
OBAMA: Why are we talking about when instead of if?
(NOTE: Howard Fineman has yet to take a single note. What a pro!)
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, when would you attack Iran? Again, I need a date and a time.
CLINTON: I am not going to speculate on when or if. We will have to see how it polls.
KUCINICH: I speak the God’s honest truth but nobody takes me seriously because I am short and my name is funny. But that’s OK, my wife is smokin’ hot and I will get to bang her tonight as I do every night. And yes, it is true what they say about those tongue studs.
RUSSERT: Does anyone here — secretly, deep down — want Iran to get a nuclear bomb?
[All candidates shake their heads vigorously ‘no’, settling the issue once and for all]
RUSSERT: Representative Kucinich, you are smiling, why is that?
KUCINICH: Have you seen my wife?
BIDEN: Look, I am not running against Hillary Clinton, I am running to be the leader of the free world. I am running against Rudy Guiliani, the most unqualified person to run for the presidency since George W. Bush. There are only three things in every sentence that comes out of his mouth: a noun, a verb and 9/11.
[The press room breaks into loud laughter at this line.]
RUSSERT: Representative Kucinich, you once spoke candidly about an encounter with a UFO. I am now going to use this to make you look silly and discredit every perfectly valid point you have made tonight.
KUCINICH: That is SUCH a dick move.
RUSSERT: It’s what I do. Nothing personal.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, do you believe there is life beyond this planet, and if so, how do you intend to get their votes.
OBAMA: As President, my first priority will be the people of Earth.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Who will you be dressing up as for Halloween?
OBAMA: I am thinking about wearing a Mitt Romney mask. It’s two-sided.
RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich, I want to move to the issue of hedge funds — hedge funds. Managers of hedge funds. There’s a listing in the paper the other day of 100 top managers of hedge funds. At the top, $1.5 billion. Number 100 makes $50 million. They pay a tax rate of 16 percent, rather than ordinary income of 31, 32 percent. The Democrats took control of Congress in November of ’06. The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, said, we’re not going to change it this year. Your reaction.
KUCINICH: It’s one of the reasons why the American people are so distressed with the current condition of the Democratic Party. They won’t stand up to Wall Street, where there’s over a trillion dollars of unregulated capital with hedge funds.
They won’t end the war, as our party promised to do in the 2006 election. They won’t stand up to the insurance companies, the for- profit insurance companies, by joining me in a not-for-profit system.
So people are asking them, “What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans?” Tim, my candidacy is a candidacy which will protect the interests of Main Street. No privatization of Social Security, make the hedge funds accountable, protect the small investors who are at risk with these public offerings of these hedge funds. My Domestic Policy Subcommittee has been looking at this. I was one of the first ones on Capitol Hill to look at it.
Right now, it’s all about a redistribution of the wealth upwards, Tim. You know, the tax system is about redistributing the wealth upwards. The health care system redistributes the wealth upwards. Our energy policies redistribute the wealth upwards. We have to have a president who is independent enough to be able to stand up to these interest groups and push the Democratic Congress to defend the American people by standing for the end of the war in Iraq, by standing for a universal, not-for-profit health care system, by standing for control of these oil companies, which are out of control, and, finally, by standing for the Constitution.
I will say it one more time. It’s time for the Democratic Party to take a position on impeachment, and for the House of Representatives to move the bill that I’ve introduced.
[I applaud Congressman Kucinich’s courage for speaking such unvarnished truth in the vicinity of power, all by my lonesome. Loudly. This is breaking the cardinal rule of journalism: Never create the perception that you are taking sides. Fuck it. What he says is totally true. Everyone in this room knows what he says is totally true. Is that not the prime directive of journalism? Find the truth and shout it from every mountaintop? I clap louder. Fineman turns around and looks at me like he’s my dad and he just found my porno magazine under the mattress. The McClatchy guy informs me that if I plan to continue sitting next to him, and thereby near the MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS sign, I will NOT be doing that again. In a room of hundreds of journalists with their 401K-fed illusion of objectivity wedged stick-like where the sun don’t shine — hundreds of journalists that all draw a paycheck from the status quo — I am the sound of one hand clapping and the mayor of Asshole City all at once. Somebody’s gotta do it.]
*Some quotes not exactly verbatim, in the interest of truth and humor.
SLIDE SHOW: Click To Enlarge
[Full color photos by VIC SUEDE/Black & White by JONATHAN VALANIA]
COMPLETE NBC TRANSCRIPT AFTER THE JUMP