If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press… and This Week… and Fox News Sunday… and Face the Nation…
Oil’s still gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf, but this Sunday’s talk shows shifted their focus away from the oil spill due to the change in command in Afghanistan that resulted from Michael Hastings’s stunning profile of General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone.
On ABC’s This Week, host Jake Tapper interviewed CIA head Leon Panetta, who said of progress in Afghanistan, “It’s harder, it’s slower than I think anyone anticipated.” Still, he insisted, al Qaeda is hurting:
I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda is actually relatively small. I think at most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Panetta also outlined the CIA’s view of Iran’s nuclear program, estimating that Iran has enough low-enriched uranium for two bombs and that completion of the enrichment of that uranium will take about a year:
Arizona Senator John McCain, no stranger to NBC’s Meet the Press, finally visited the show’s new set to discuss the outlook in Afghanistan with host David Gregory. McCain indicated that President Obama’s sacking of General McChrystal in light of the Rolling Stone profile was justified, but he had some choice thoughts about the president’s July 2011 timetable for the start of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, calling the setting of the date a “purely political decision”:
McCain also discussed immigration, indicating that he disagrees with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s insistence that most illegal immigrants smuggle drugs into the country but praising her overall performance on the issue:
I think the governor of Arizona has done a good job in this whole debate. I may not agree with one sentence she uses, but she’s standing up for Arizona, and I think that the people of my state deserve a better environment of security than the one they’re getting from the federal government now and a federal responsibility.
Bob Schieffer spent ample time discussing Afghanistan on CBS’s Face the Nation with Senator Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who responded, “No,” when asked if there was any chance that General Petraeus would not be confirmed to succeed General McChrystal to run the war in Afghanistan.
But the big news on Face the Nation came when Schieffer brought on the ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Jeff Sessions and Democrat Patrick Leahy, to discuss Elena Kagan’s impending confirmation hearings. Though many see Kagan as a shoo-in to win confirmation, Sessions indicated that Republicans won’t stand idly by during the hearing, calling a filibuster “conceivable” and saying of Kagan:
“I think her nomination has real problems that need to be examined… She just is not the kind of nominee you would normally expect to have, of course, never been a judge. And so this raises questions, because her political instincts have been strong.”
Watch the full debate between Leahy and Sessions, likely an accurate indicator of what will be said at the confirmation hearings, here:
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace’s guests, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham, addressed the potential for further leadership shakeups in the wake of General McChrystal’s resignation. Graham framed the incident as a “chance to start over completely” on what he called a “dysfunctional relationship between the military-civilian components that’s essential to winning a counterinsurgency.” Feinstein agreed, insisting that the diplomatic structure be changed should Petraeus not be happy with the current set-up:
I think Petraeus’ views should be taken into consideration and observed by the administration. This is kind of, if you will, not a last ditch stand, but it is a major change in the middle of the surge, and I think you put the general in, he should make the call. If he can’t work with the ambassador, the ambassador should be changed. If he can’t work with Holbrooke, that should change.