Week In Review: Olympics, Georgia, Edwards

Scott Simon reviews the week's news with Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr. Among the topics: the Olympic games; fighting in Georgia; John Edwards' admission to an extramarital affair;and the trial of Osama bin Laden's driver.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week, opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing. Senators McCain and Obama trade barbs over energy policy, and former presidential candidate John Edwards would seem to be off the list for vice-presidential possibilities.

DAN SCHORR: Yes, that running-mate short list has gotten shorter.

SIMON: That's NPR's Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr. Dan, thanks for being with us. And let's begin with the Olympic Games because, of course, they open amid the determination of a great nation, the Chinese, to give the world a good show.

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: And the concern of many people that that good show does not entail respect for human rights.

SCHORR: Well, there must be a billion fingers crossed in China right now as they wait for they don't know what. They have unbelievable security but yet so far there's been some smog, which they had hoped not but they're...

SIMON: Some smog? A little more than just some smog.

SCHORR: Well, a lot of smog. And everybody has this sort of holding his breath even as they watch them playing these games.

SIMON: President Bush, of course, attended the opening ceremonies. He didn't want to cause offense to the Chinese but just...

SCHORR: Although, he really did.

SIMON: Well, that - OK. He gave a speech centering on human rights that earned him stern rebuke from the Chinese.

SCHORR: I suspect that there's this kind of an understanding between them. It is, I'll make this speech in Thailand and I'll say, come on Chinese, you got to grow up and be nice to your own people and so on and so forth. Then the Chinese say, we don't want you meddling in our internal affairs. And so each person plays his role. It's fun. And then the games start and there is in a very nice seat, you know, it's the president watching the games.

SIMON: How serious is the Russian attack on some sites in Georgia?

SCHORR: It is that...

SIMON: And the loss of life, of course, that's serious. But does it threaten to blow up even beyond...

SCHORR: Well, you see, the Russians hated having these countries break off. So here was Georgia, which was where Stalin came from. And here was Georgia now independent, but there's a little piece of Georgia which the Russians say, yeah, this shouldn't be a part. And so they're now going into what looks like a full-scale war of some kind over this little piece called South Ossetia, which the Russians say they will want for them and give citizenship. And it now looks as though we're headed for another little, small war like Chechnya.

SIMON: Senators Obama and McCain went at each other over energy policy and offshore drilling specifically this week.

SCHORR: I found that really quite bizarre, because each one changes his position, and then you're not supposed to call it a flip-flop. So here we have Senator McCain, who at one point was against drilling and now is very much for drilling. And then you have Senator Obama, who was previously against drilling but now he says some drilling maybe a little bit, as part of some other program. What is really happening is that they're trying to figure out which way the public would like them to go and then to go that way. If that doesn't work, they'll try something different.

SIMON: Let me ask the Democratic political question of the week by trying to put it this way. When you look ahead to the convention, does the Obama team have to make a choice between where to feature Senator Hillary Clinton and how to hide John Edwards?

SCHORR: I don't think it is really so much Hillary Clinton who's making the problem as her committed supporters who just want to see - this going to be on August 28th, which is Women's Equality Day. They want to have this blow struck for women's equality. And some of them have been talking about the fact, all right, we're going to the convention, we will support Obama, but we want to have a roll call so the world will know how much support she really had. That would be not very unifying to have a roll call between the two, and so that is really is going back and forth.

SIMON: And certainly, look, anybody's heart has to go out to the John Edwards family, and John and Elizabeth Edwards, given the kind of exposure any family gets.

SCHORR: Oh, yeah. John Edwards.

SIMON: As much as we are moved by the human dimension of a family that's caused further pain, it's also a political matter, isn't it?

SCHORR: Well, it is. And what's disappointing in this case is that he came off giving an image of a really devoted family man who was standing beside his wife who has inoperable cancer. And the measure of our disappointment is what comes into this because this was not the way he presented himself. And a great many people, including people in the political life of this country, said, there's nothing really decent about it. He's going to take care of poor people, he's going to do all these things, and now this? And he issues a statement in which he says, I know you're going to be mad at me but not as mad as I am at myself. So what does he want now, pity, as well?

SIMON: And finally, Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, was convicted on some of the counts against him and sentenced, but he wasn't convicted on others.

SCHORR: On the serious ones, he was not convicted on.

SIMON: So does this suggest that military tribunals can give a fair trial?

SCHORR: That's what they're trying to present it as being. And maybe, yes, but you know, each trial is going to be different. This one - this is the first trial - post-9/11 trial. And the administration didn't make out so well because Hamdan now is going to get out very soon. The administration would like to have had him in jail for maybe the rest of his life or at least 30 years. It is very much a compromise kind of thing. All right, we'll convict him on some things. Yes, we will sentence him to five years sum, but most of that he's already served. And so everybody should be happy?

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: Sure.

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