Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

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This week, raucous town hall meetings continued, there were new disclosures about Bush administration attorney firings, and violence continued in Afghanistan as the country prepares for presidential elections. Guest host David Greene reviews the week in the news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.

DAVID GREENE, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David GREENE, sitting in for Scott Simon.

This week, raucous town hall meetings continue, new disclosures about Bush administration attorney firings, and the violence continues in Afghanistan, as that country prepares for presidential elections. We're joined as always by NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Hi, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Hi, David. And welcome aboard.

GREENE: I appreciate that. Let's start, Dan, with these health care town hall meetings that we've been talking about. The latest one, President Obama yesterday, out west in Montana.

SCHORR: That's right, and I listened to that, and I thought the president handled himself pretty well. He seems on the whole undeterred by the kind of invective that's been used at many of these meetings, some of which seemed to sabotage the meeting more than trying to get some information out of it. I thought at the moment he looks a little better off than he did a week or two ago.

GREENE: One of the issues specifically that's been brought up by opponents of the health care legislation alleges that it would - this legislature would create so-called death panels? Where is that coming from? Tell me about that.

SCHORR: Well - that term comes from Sarah Palin.

GREENE: Former governor of Alaska.

SCHORR: Former governor of Alaska. And it is one of a kind of phrases that have been used in this thing which would be quite wild. And after, you know, the government's takeover of health care, for example, and socialization, and these are slogans more than they're arguments. I have a sense, though, that they - while they had a certain effect in it for a couple of weeks, they're beginning to lose their impact.

GREENE: So death panel might whip up, you know, interest and get people angry on one side. But there's no death panel being set up by this legislation…

SCHORR: No, that…

GREENE: …to determine if someone lives or dies.

SCHORR: What there is set up by this legislation or some of the legislation, anyway, is to have Medicare compensation for people who want to get advice and counsel on the last years of their lives. But yeah, you'll hear that now and in the arguments too and - but I have a feeling that that kind of language is beginning to phase out.

GREENE: Dan, the Bush administration was back in the news this week. First, former Vice President Dick Cheney was reported as moving away from his staunch defense of President George W. Bush? What is going on there?

SCHORR: Well, specifically, the Washington Post has had access to some of the people working with Cheney, in preparation for writing his book. And so they report second-hand what he's saying. And apparently now he's beginning to turn against President Bush, with whom he worked so hand in glove during all those years. But apparently in the second term he began to disapprove of the president as being too soft. And so it looks as though, if the reports are to be credited, it looks as though we're going to get Dick Cheney dumping on the president with whom he spent so much time.

GREENE: Something we never heard happen while they were in office. Another problem for the Bush legacy, disclosure of the administration's involvement in those firing of U.S. attorneys. Wasn't there early - earlier evidence of that?

SCHORR: There was earlier evidence of that. But now in the form of depositions and testimony there is a lot more information, rather specific, and a lot of it points to Karl Rove.

GREENE: The president's senior advisor…

SCHORR: The president's senior advisor - and it indicates that he would not stop short of intervening at the White House in trying to make sure that something was done about a U.S. attorney that he didn't approve of because that attorney was not taking after Democrats enough. And you get - at the center of the stage is - not to be surprising - is Karl Rove.

GREENE: So putting these firings potentially closer to the Bush White House than they were before.

SCHORR: Well, Karl Rove was as close as they get.

GREENE: Let's turn to some foreign news. Some possible good news coming out of Europe. It looks like France and Germany might have come out of this recession. Does that mean the U.S. might be next?

SCHORR: Well, I don't know. The next - according to the economists, anyway, is Asia, which is also coming back. Presumably, just as the U.S. was first to get into this recession, the U.S. may be the last to get out, and that I think partly is a result of the fact that the Asians and Germany and France did not have the kind of mortgage spree that we had in this country.

GREENE: Mm-hmm.

SCHORR: And so apparently they're faster to pick up the ball and come back.

GREENE: Dan, a really important election on Thursday in Afghanistan. They're preparing for an election in spite of resistance by the Taliban, the Taliban militants threatening to derail the election. What's your assessment of the situation there?

SCHORR: Situation there, well, it looks as though the Taliban really means to try to sabotage the election. They've been threatening to cut off the fingers of those whose fingers have been stained to indicate that they were voting. And there is a real question as to how many will turn out in the face of those threats. Apparently a substantial number of the people are insisting on voting and apparently will vote. As to then whether the Karzai, President Karzai is re-elected…

GREENE: Hamid Karzai.

SCHORR: Yes. The indications are from the polls that he may not get an absolute majority, which would mean then a run-off.

GREENE: That's NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Thanks, Dan

SCHORR: Oh, my pleasure.

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