Week In Review With Daniel Schorr
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
This week, a deadline approaches for Honduras, U.S. troops pull out of major cities in Iraq, and Sarah Palin resigns as governor of Alaska to - well, what exactly?
NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott. I'll be glad to tell.
SIMON: If you knew.
SCHORR: If I knew.
SIMON: Yeah, what do you make of Governor - I should explain, the best line I've heard in the past few hours is one of our editors here, Tony Marcano, saying, whoever knew there'd be a new TV reality series called "Republican Governors"?
SCHORR: That's pretty good.
SIMON: Yes, it is pretty good. But what do you make of Governor Palin's announcement? Which was, I must say, sometimes painful on a personal level to watch.
SCHORR: Well, yeah. Well, I'll tell you, there's been turmoil in the Republican Party ever since the election, and there has been a big split as to where the party goes from here. Sarah Palin represented a right-wing side of the party, and a very interesting person during the campaign, but she was opposed by people within the party. Vanity Fair had a big article in which they quoted some, what they called top Republican people as saying that there was something wrong with her mental state. And so what I suggest is that she probably has reacted to what's going on in the Republican Party, and rather than fight this battle anymore, she just pulled herself out - a little impulsively, I thought.
SIMON: Yeah. Did she get a fair break?
SCHORR: I think some Republicans will have to decide that. This is all a matter within the Republican Party. I don't know what a fair break means at this point. I mean she was number two on the ticket of the losing party. She has people for her, people against her, and so on. I guess, as President Kennedy might say, in politics there are no fair breaks.
SIMON: Organization of American States has set a deadline for today, Dan, for the leaders of the military coup in Honduras to restore President Manuel Zelaya into office. He was removed in his pajamas earlier this week. What happens if they don't?
SCHORR: Well, I think it's a question they are asking themselves right now, and there is a matter now of simply suspending Honduras as a member of the Organization of American States; the United Nations presumably could impose some kind of sanctions. I don't see this going very far. This is a very difficult one to handle, in some part because the person who was ousted from office was an ally of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whom the United States opposes, and so this had to be, this is being done in the name of democracy, not in the name of our policy, and it is very hard at this point to decide how to change the way things stand.
SIMON: U.S. troops pull out of the major cities of Iraq this week. Recognizing that transition has only been going on for four days, how do you assess it?
SCHORR: Well, the one thing that I - that struck me were the fireworks and parades and the joy that was shown by the average person in Iraq. I guess it really is something, whether it be Iraq or whether it be Iran or wherever it is, that people like to feel in charge of their own governments and their own futures. And so I think the fact that they are seeing uniformed Iraqi troops marching through the streets and Americans beginning to pull out apparently is a very welcome sign.
SIMON: We'll note Vice President Biden is in Iraq this week to talk about the future of U.S. efforts there. President Obama is going to a place you know very well, Russia.
SCHORR: Ah, yes.
SIMON: What you used to call the Soviet Union. Any tips on how to get along?
SCHORR: Well, the first indications, the first indications that have come are that the Russians have leaked the fact that they will allow the United States to use Russia as a transit point for sending troops and material to Afghanistan, and that is a goodwill gesture. The question is what gestures do they get in return, as to whether one goodwill gesture will change human rights in Russia or any of these other things. These are two statesmen, politicians, who have decided, with Iran and all their other problems, it's more important to get along, even if you don't get all of what you want.
SIMON: When the Senate reconvenes after the July 4th holiday, there will be a new senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, after an eight-month, I believe, court battle.
SIMON: What's the significance of - what's the significance of his arrival?
SCHORR: Well, the big significance is supposed to be that now they're supposed to have, theoretically at least, 60 votes in the Senate, which means they can quash any filibuster. I think that point is being rather overdone, because even now with kind of a theoretical number 50, the fact of the matter is that two are independents, although they vote mostly with the Democrats, and that Senators Kennedy and Byrd are having health problems, and so even now they may not always be able to get exactly 60. But I think more important is I think that the president really would like to have bipartisan action rather than just 60.
SIMON: Finally, Dan, I think I've been looking for years for the opportunity to say Washington Postgate.
But I wonder if they created one. This week it looked like they were planning a series, or at least one, dinners that would bring fat cats together with some of their reporters and policymakers.
SCHORR: Yes, it's amazing, isn't it. And they are very embarrassed. And they are having great difficulty finding out who in the Washington Post was responsible for it. What you have to know is that the Washington Post lost almost $20 million in the first quarter of this year, and it's another sign of what's happening, as panic begins to hit the newspapers as they find that their bottom line is bottoming out. And so they're embarrassed. They say this is one of the worst embarrassing things to happen to them.
SIMON: The price for attending that dinner was going to be what?
SCHORR: As much as $250,000.
SIMON: We'd have coffee and bagels with almost anybody for a lot less than that.
SCHORR: Please, Scott, we don't do these things.
SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.
And you can find NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving's analysis of Governor Palin's announcement at npr.org/watchingwashington.