Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 18, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JERRY....Jon Stewart's interview with Jerry Bremer last night wasn't very enlightening, but it did answer at least one question that many of us have long been idly curious about: why does a guy whose legal name is L. Paul Bremer go by Jerry?

Answer: It's his nickname because he was born on September 30th, St. Jerome's Day. Now you know.

Kevin Drum 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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What going to be his Prison name?

Posted by: Robert on January 18, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Some cultures name their children after the saint whose feast day it is on the day that they're born. I am pretty sure I've heard of this tradition among Russians and Serbians... who else does that?

Posted by: Constantine on January 18, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf Blitzer really did a job on Bremer yesterday. Played him clip after clip of things he'd said in interviews with Blitzer, then read sections from his book that said the opposite. One example is that Bremer says he told the President that there weren't enough troops to do the job in 2003, then went on Blitzer and said there were sufficient troops to do the job.

Bremer was reduced to saying, look, when you work for the President he's the only one you owe the truth to.

I'm certainly no fan of Blitzer's, but he seems to be better recently, more willing to challenge people for their lies and misstatements. You can tell that doing so goes against his strong inclination to be a BushCo cheerleader, however, as he ended the segment with effusive praise for Bremer's "courage" in taking on the assignment (and bravely lying to the country).

Posted by: Ron Thompson on January 18, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's the L for?

Posted by: Randy Paul on January 18, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wolf showed a killer quote from Bremer's book, in which he said we have the worst of both worlds: we are an occupier and yet unable to provide security.

Isn't that basically Murtha's reason for saying we should withdraw?

Posted by: Newton Minnow on January 18, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Stewart asked something to the effect of:
"So you were only given 3 weeks notice that you were going to get the job? Didn't that raise some flags about lack of planning?"

Bremer's response was something like: "No not at all, we all knew someone with experience in the area was going to be put in, but quite frankly we were all expecting the war to last much longer and the situation to be much worse than it was."

Shorter Bremer: The situation was so rosey when I got there, that it took us a while to get our footing.

I turned it off at that point.

Posted by: Simp on January 18, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

That justifcation for the nickname doesn't wash. He's too young to be bound by some early 20th century ethnic custom. Besides, I'm suspicious of people called A. Secondname Surname. They should either do a rename or suffer under the original first name. Too pompous.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on January 18, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, he didn't come off looking as utterly stupid as I expected him to, but he pretty much indicted the admin for not doing any sort of planning for any possibility other than 'best-case'. That in itself would be grounds for a possible court martial if the military did that itself...

Posted by: legion on January 18, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

What's the L for?
raLph

Posted by: on January 18, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"wasn't very enlightening" is quite an understatement, Kev. It was about the most useless five minutes of television I've ever seen. The Daily Show is brilliant, but if Stewart isn't going to ask tough questions, he shouldn't have anyone except movie stars as guests.

Posted by: MDS on January 18, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the handling of the question of enough troops was interesting. Bush keeps saying the generals on the ground are not asking for more troops. Bremer said he asked a general (Abazid ??) what he could do with 30,000 more troops. The answer "Secure Baghdad". So clearly there was a positive use for more troops. But the general would not ask for those troops.

The military learned the General Shinseki (sp??) lesson, didn't they?

Posted by: VOR on January 18, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jon missed a crucial contradiction from Bremer.

Bremer distanced himself from the decision to disband the Iraqi army by claiming he was merely implementing what was already planned. I know that Jon is limited by the short format, but it would have been nice to hear him ask how implementing a ready plan to disband the Iraqi army is consistent with Bremer's immediately prior statement that the administration expected a longer war.

Posted by: Mimir on January 18, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It was about the most useless five minutes of television I've ever seen.

Always is. Watch segment A, segment B, then fast forward to the Colbert tease, moment of zen, then watch Colbert Report.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 18, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, BTW from Monday night, if you didn't see it, you must watch the headlines clip entitled "Nukes of Hazzard".

It was about Bush explaining the meaning of "Diplomacy"

laughed so hard, sent me into a coughing fit.

Posted by: Simp on January 18, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

A. Secondname Lastname comes in handy for certain purposes: having the same firstname as a parent. Speaking from experience.

Posted by: random on January 18, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

He is "L. Paul Bremer the Third" afterall.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 18, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno, I think we are all being a little hard on a man whose lead-in is puppets making prank phone calls.

Tough questions is the traditional media's job, and frankly, a guy like Jon Stewart should have a hell of a lot LESS credibility than a guy like Wolf Blitzer. Administration officials should want to be on traditional media outlets because surviving that quesitoning would give them credibility. Jon Stewart should have to beg them to be on by promising them softball interviews.

The fact that this dynamic is almost completely reversed really isn't Stewart's fault. Sure, I wish he'd ask hard-hitting questions, but frankly, I think those questions should have been answered on "meet the press," and Stewart's show is where we should all tune in to learn what the hell the "L" really stands for.

But I guess it is a fair criticism that since the traditional media seems to have no interest in doing their job, we should demand Stewart do it. After all, there are a lot of people hailing him as a messiah--we should make him earn it!

Posted by: theorajones on January 18, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Well at least that is possible. More than I can say about anything else related to the Iraq debacle.

Hell. It could even be the truth.

Posted by: paul on January 18, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I thought Jon did a fine job of letting Jerry hang himself while resisting the urge to throttle him (which any decent human must feel in his presence). Bremer's statements are self-cancelling and nonsensical, and it isn't Jon's job to make him admit that. Just showing us how self-serving and rationalizing Bremer is was enough for me. Man, he is twisted! I was a bit disappointed he didn't use the same "well, they have a stable currency now" success story he used on NPR, but the "they thought it'd be a longer war" line was pretty rich.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 18, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry did basically hit all the talking points didn't he?

here's my question, did he not know what a 'Taint is, was he not paying attention earlier, or was he actually trying to be FUnny???

Posted by: e1 on January 18, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

i agree with theorajones and biggerbox. the thing that i like about JSs interviews with people he clearly disagrees with is that he seems to ask what he's interested in and lets the interviewee respond however he will. he doesn't have an agenda to be tough, but if he gets frustrated enough he will be (ie the crossfire thing, and a certain Texas Congresscritter Bonilla {i think}).

Bremer hit the talking points, but you could tell that's what they were, and when he said something that didn't make sense (the "he didn't ask for more troops, he was responding to a question") JS flashes that WTF? look.

Posted by: e1 on January 18, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jerome sounds french to me. A-HA!

Posted by: Felix Deutsch on January 18, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bremer was pushing a book. The interview wasn't enlightening, but it probably wasn't intended to be. It was advertising.

The only thing I found interesting about the interview is that Bremer was a government hack--he said he had been in government for 40 years. Actually there was a second thing I found interesting--reading between the lines, it was clear that the Bush malAdministration had no contingency plans. Total incompetance.

Posted by: raj on January 18, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Robert: His prison bitch name is The Beaver

courtesy of http://www.prisonbitchname.com/

Posted by: sunship on January 18, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

What is the L for?

Lyin'

Sheesh.

Posted by: Vinnie on January 18, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

At least with Bremer off the scene, we are spared the fashion statement of french cuffs and construction boots. Oh, and yes he's a mercenary asshole, who got the job because he wanted Iraq to be sure and have good banking laws.

Posted by: horation on January 18, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone who ever wrote a book been proven to be lying as fast as has Bremer. To have various tv talking heads calling you out on so many different things must be a little embarassing.

When he said only the president deserved the truth, wasn't he admitting his book was just full of lies?

Posted by: MarkH on January 18, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Some cultures name their children after the saint whose feast day it is on the day that they're born"

Which is rather unfortunate for a guy like me, born on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. For a long time in my youth, people called me, "Virgin" . . .

Posted by: rea on January 18, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! He was born on Jerome's day? Me too!

Posted by: jerry on January 18, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the interview was very revealing. Seriously, watch it over a couple times, then watch it without the sound. Fascinating.

Posted by: thebewilderness on January 19, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

There was one pretty good moment in the interview. In regards to the question of whether the military wanted more troops, Stewart pointed out that in Bremer's book, one of the generals had said that with 35,000 more troops, he could secure Baghdad.

Bremer's response was both nonsensical and priceless: "Well, yeah, but that was me asking him!"

Because really, the rules of Jeopardy should apply when planning an occupation.

Posted by: Royko on January 19, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK
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