One of the few things I dislike more than end-of-the-year "looking back" lists is the incessant chatter and worthless speculation over the upcoming primaries. But that chatter and speculation is inundating everything. Thus, I offer some of my favorite quotes of 2007:
"When I talk to senior government officials on the phone, it's my own policy -- our conversations are confidential. If I want to use anything from that conversation, then I will ask permission" --
Tim Russert, under oath at the Lewis Libby trial, citing the textbook function of a government propagandist to explain his role as a "journalist."
"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used. It's our best format," as it allows us to "control the message" --
Cheney media aide Cathie Martin, under oath at the Libby trial, making clear how well Russert fulfills his function.
* * * * *
"I am so uninterested in the Democrats wanting Karl Rove, because it is so bad for them. Because it shows business as usual, tit for tat, vengeance" --
Time Magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel, emphasizing how bored he is by efforts to uncover Karl Rove's role in the firing of U.S. attorneys.
"As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off" --
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, explaining why it's best if government wrongdoing, such as Lewis Libby's perjury, remains concealed.
"YAAWWN. That's my view of the Libby flap" --
Washington Post National Political Reporter Shailagh Murray, emphasizing how bored she is by the story of the President of the United States protecting one his top aides, a convicted felon, from prison.
"Breathless." "Hot rhetoric." "Whenever that big day comes, Dodd -- as the keeper of the 'hold' -- must return from the campaign trail to officially block debate on the bill. . . . -- time that Dodd, who is trailing badly in early primary polls, can scarcely afford" --
Washington Post National Political Reporter Shailagh Murray, emphasizing how bored she is by efforts to stand up to the President's lawbreaking, torture, abolition of habeas corpus, and warrantless surveillance.
"Some stories stay alive longer than others because they reveal a more serious vulnerability. In Iowa, planting questions calls into question your authenticity -- something Clinton struggles to demonstrate on the best of days, because she's just not a gal who wings it. This episode sort of reminds me of the John Kerry windsurfing photo. It's the sort of thing that can linger in the mind" --
Washington Post National Political Reporter Shailagh Murray, emphasizing the issues that really matter to her, the ones that "linger" in her mind.
* * * * *
"Does he have sex appeal? . . . Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of, a little bit of cigar smoke?" --
Chris Matthews, fantasizing about the pleasing, manly body smells of Fred Thompson.
"There is a hierarchical, there is, dare I say it, male, there is an old-line quality to them that some voters, indeed a lot of voters, find reassuring. And this is something that the Democrats need to understand" --
Newsweek's Howard Fineman, admiring the calming masculinity of the GOP presidential candidates and warning Democrats to take heed.
"What's appealing about Rudy Giuliani is not the generous side, what's appealing about him is the tough cop side.
Right. You just wait until daddy gets home.
Yes, that part...
... of the daddy. It's the tough cop side, so...
Yes. Yes" --
Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman, breathlessly sharing their excitement over the firmness of their Daddy, Rudy Giuliani.
He has "chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest . . . . and has shoulders you could land a 737 on" --
Roger Simon, The Politico's chief political columnist, enthusiastically admiring numerous parts of Mitt Romney's body.
"The press here does a fantastic job of adhering to journalistic standards and covering politics in general" --
Newsweek's Richard Wolffe, at the National Press Club, chatting with Tony Snow and Karl Rove's dancing partner, David Gregory, about how partisan and hateful bloggers are and how professional and "fantastic" our national press corps is.
* * * * *
"Well, John Edwards' campaign for president spent $400 on February 20, and another $400 on March 7, at a top Beverly Hills men's stylist, Torrenueva Hair Designs. . . . Only Edwards, however, has had the care he takes with his hair memorialized on YouTube" --
The Politico's Ben Smith, breaking wide open the modern press corps' Watergate, one of the most discussed political stories of 2007.
"John Edwards is suspending his campaign for President, and may drop out completely, because his wife has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that sickened her in 2004, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, an Edwards friend told The Politico" --
The Politico's Ben Smith, 53 minutes before Edwards announced that his wife had cancer and he would stay in the race.
"[The Politico's Ben] Smith also has a too-broad denial from Edwards [to a rumor that he is having an affair]: 'The story is false' . . . . Edwards' peculiar vulnerability should the allegation be believed is suggested by this Reuters lede"--
Slate's Mickey Kaus -- who, a month later, similarly amplified an equally sleazy whispering campaign about Hillary's rumored lesbian affair with a young Muslim aide -- proving conclusively that one can actually occupy a sewer level beneath the one where The Politico and Drudge reside.
* * * * *
"Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that -- Limbaugh is salivating -- would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only. In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid" --
Joe Klein of Time Magazine, acting as spokesman for GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra, smearing the Democrats with patently false statements.
"I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right" --
Joe Klein of Time Magazine, reciting the anthem of our modern press corps in explaining why he can't be bothered to correct the script Hoekstra fed him.
* * * * *
"It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case" --
Dean of the Washington Press Corps David Broder, February 16, 2007.
* * * * *
"Nor do I think that high-profile diplomacy is an appropriate response. We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian (sic) atomic scientists" --
Law Professor Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, advocating that the U.S. Government begin murdering Iranian scientists instead of attempting diplomacy.
"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged" --
Frank Gaffney in The Washington Times, using a fake Abraham Lincoln quote to argue that anti-war Senators should be punished as traitors.
"Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive" --
Mitt Romney, invoking the cowardly flagship of the modern GOP in arguing for limitless presidential powers and, with one short sentence, completely repudiating the core, founding American political value as most famously expressed by Patrick Henry.
"What the bill seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years" --
Sen. Arlen Specter on the Military Commissions Act, in a speech he delivered on the Senate floor almost immediately before voting in favor of that bill (that was actually from September, 2006, but I cheated and included it anyway because it's my all-time favorite political quote).