Friday, May 01, 2009

Jon Stewart apologizes about Truman remark 

On Wednesday evening, we noted that in a discussion Cliff May, Daily Show host Jon Stewart had characterized President Harry Truman as a "war criminal" for making the decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan in WWII.

There was a resulting Instalanche, with many posts and excellent family stories that personalize the dramatic end to WWII in a manner that I can certainly appreciate.

Jon Stewart has now walked back his characterization of President Truman and offers this apology:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Harry Truman Was Not a War Criminal
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I think he has tried to do the right thing here by apologizing on air. There is always the underlying difficulty of delivering a serious statement on what is primarily a comedy show.

CWCID: Hot Air


By Blogger Ron Russell, at Fri May 01, 04:33:00 PM:

Its good that he pulled back the Truman remark, I wonder however who advised him to do it. I think his first remark tells us how he really thinks. First thoughts are generally the truest.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri May 01, 04:37:00 PM:

I'm sure that his Democratic Overlords called him up on that one. In any case, the retraction is inadequate. Stewart made the original remark in a debate with Cliff May over tough measures in war; he was boxed in. Now, if Truman is not a war criminal for having dropped the bomb, Stewart needs to reconcile his view that Harry Truman is not a war criminal but George W. Bush is.  

By Blogger commoncents, at Fri May 01, 04:37:00 PM:

Great Post!

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 05:11:00 PM:

From Link,

Give Jon Stewart the credit for admitting he was wrong. If you recall the context, Cliff May cleverly put him on the spot -- it wasn't a planned statement by Stewart. As a long time fan, my sense is that Stewart came to this on his own -- he took his own counsel in doing this.

Many real journalists would never have done as much. E.g., I believe the New York Times never apologized to Vicki Iseman for intentionally implying she was "strapping" John McCain to advance her career. I'm sure we could all expand on this list.

Again, I'd bet that Jon Stewart openly turns on Obama at some point. If so, it'll be a sign the tide has turned.

TH, you brought George W. Bush into this ... so allow me to retort.

Did Jon Stewart ever really call Bush a "war criminal"? I don't recall that he ever did. It's a loaded conclusory characterization. Stewart has certainly been a harsh critic of Bush and Cheney, but so have I. I've ranted here enough about it.

I happened to have had ABC talk radio on this morning -- the right wing talk radio station in NYC. I think it was conservative commentator Joe Scarborough who was talking -- basically he was saying that the conservatives had blown it through eight years of fiscal irresponsibility and foreign adventurism -- he all but came out and blamed Bush and Cheney personally for being colossal f*ck-ups, which they were ... and worse. Yes, that's a loaded conclusory characterization ... but the facts are on my side.

Until the Republicans can admit this so they can figure out how to redefine themselves, we'll never stop the Obama juggernaut. Right now, I put improving odds on Michelle "Evita" Obama running in 2016 -- it's easier than amending the Constitution.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri May 01, 05:29:00 PM:

"blamed Bush and Cheney personally for being colossal f*ck-ups, which they were ... and worse."

Setting the bar high, are we? Obama has done more stupid crap in the last three months (parade of failed nominations, insulting the British, promising to set up 'opportunity zones' in the Pakistani borderlands for the poor disenfranchised moderate Taliban, bowing to the king of Arabia, publicly betraying the CIA, et cetera) than Bush did in his whole first year, and that's counting the pretzel choking incident.

I'm of the firm opinion that Bush and co.'s reputations are mostly undeserved.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 05:45:00 PM:

Link again,

Here we go again. Bush-Cheney were bad. Obama will be far worse. But we would not have Obama today were it not for eight years of Bush-Cheney first. I heard someone like Joe Scarborough say as much today. I think Newt Gingrich would agree. Rush Limbaugh wouldn't agree -- at least not to his ditto heads.

If you want to gauge where a big swath of America is -- the ones in the middle that decide elections -- watch what Stewart and Colbert are up to. Not Fox ... not MSNBC ... but Comedy Central. Sad, but true.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 05:52:00 PM:

... and furthermore!

South Park is on Comedy Central, as I'm sure you know. It's often a stealth vehicle for scathing libertarian commentary.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 08:20:00 PM:

Apology is NOT accepted!!! EVER!!!!!

By Anonymous JT, at Fri May 01, 09:18:00 PM:

TH is right on this. First, he delivered it like a comedy monologue, not a serious mea culpa, and with any context to the question of ... if bombing two times hundreds of thousands of Japanese during a war isn't a war crime, then how is interrogation (that does not include death) rise to a war crime, or terrorism, etc.? He needs to reconcile that.

I don't know Stewart, but graduated with him from William & Mary and folks who do. I think he's a decent guy. I think he's good at what he does. However, how he, or commedians get serious consideration in politics, or actors/actresses, etc., just amuses me.

Now, the obvious retort is Reagan, but he spend decades in politics after his acting career. Franken is a joke, and was never all that funny. Fred too ... but he was treated with what he merited in the campaign.  

By Anonymous West, at Fri May 01, 10:02:00 PM:

I disagree that it was Bush & Cheney's 's "f*ck up's" that presented liberals with reason to want change.

It was Bush disappointing them all in 2000 when they were so sure that Gore was going to win, and they have hated Bush with the white-hot hate of 1000 suns since that day. All the past 8 years had done was to give the Left time to stew in their juices and grow ever more vicious and unscrupulous in their tactics, aided and abetted by the media.

It has always been about the 2000 election.

BO took advantage of all that and while being a fairly charismatic guy running against what was essentially a representative of the hated regime, with the largest election budget in history still only managed a moderate victory.

If Bush and Cheney had really been total screw ups, Obama would have won in a landslide.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 10:13:00 PM:

From Link,

Jon Stewart would the first to say that he's just a comedian on a fake news show -- but the irony is that between the laughs his show is a better news program than what the networks put on. Don't believe me? Look at the recent coverage on "teabagging." One of Stewart's favorite targets are the network news programs -- he ridicules them all.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 10:34:00 PM:

To West,

Obama won the Democratic nomination by being the anti-War darling, and outflanking Hillary. He needed leftists to do this.

He then won the general by winning the independent vote 52% to 44%, and thus won the overall vote 53% to 45% -- a pretty good margin for the most liberal guy in the Senate -- someone who couldn't beat Hillary in places like PA. Hatred of Bush drove this.

McCain never found a way to distance himself from Bush and move to the middle -- even though he was the darling of the independents in 2000. If McCain couldn't do it in 2008, I doubt there's Republican today who could do it in 2012 ... unless Obama totals the family car.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat May 02, 03:24:00 PM:

Link: My point is that the common opinion of Bush and Cheney as fuckups is warped and ultimately false. Not that it didn't affect public opinion and the 08 elections. Just because it's a popular notion doesn't mean it's a correct one. The same holds true now; Obama may have strong popular support, but he's been a weak and naive leader who, when he's not cow-towing to Congress or embarrassing our country abroad to the point that the Australians publicly admit that they now believe the US is in a state of decline, he's continuing the policies of the 'fuckups' who came before him.

Now we get to see what *actual* leadership incompetence looks like. I've already heard political moderates (in person) say that they miss ole' "W" and maybe he wasn't so bad after all.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat May 02, 03:47:00 PM:

If Bush was a war criminal for ignoring the Geneva Convention and maintaining illegal prisons at Guantanamo, approving of torture and continuing the Clinton rendition policy, then what to make of Barack Obama? The NYT hasn't leaked the news yet, but I wouldn't be shocked if we aren't still engaged in rendition and now comes news he may keep Guantanamo open. Is Obama joining the pantheon of American war criminal presidents, or do we have to wait until he approves of waterboarding a terrorist before we pull out that card?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat May 02, 04:13:00 PM:

It's not "ultimately false."

Bush-Cheney put us on the road to Obama. They helped increase the power of DC at the expense of the rest of the nation. They were fiscally profligate. They got us into an unnecessary and divisive war -- not the things I expected when I pulled the Republican lever in 2000. We're a much weaker nation than we were on 9.12.01.

To go further -- a personal opinion, but shared by many -- they lied to us about the war ... and they're chicken hawks with Vietnam deferments to boot. They're not honorable men -- you could pick better people to defend. Bush did Iraq to top his dad, it's that simple and that despicable. Cheney is half mad. No, I wouldn't call them war criminals -- we elected them, Congress approved Iraq, the media went along initially. Obama only gave a speech no one heard.

The Republican party -- and its enablers like Rush -- have lost all credibility for defending these two for so long. It's a big driver of Obama's success. It's a big reason why -- as of this moment the Republican party isn't a national party and not even an effective minority party. Why do you think Obama played the waterboard card last week -- Cheney comes out of his bunker and 65% of Americans wig out.

I'm tired of this, Link, over  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat May 02, 06:07:00 PM:

"Bush did Iraq to top his dad, it's that simple"

You are fucking insane. No wonder you're "anonymous".  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat May 02, 08:18:00 PM:

I'm sorry Mr Rosen, I take it back ... outdoing Bush 41 never crossed Bush 43's mind when he thought about Iraq. Outdoing his dad was never a factor in anything he did in his life.

Not went he went to Andover nor Yale, not when he joined Skull & Bones, not when he went into the oil businesses, not when he ran for Congress, not when he ran for President. George W Bush never measured himself by the accomplishments of his father George H W Bush.

I was insane for suggesting it, or at least confused. You see I recall a few official explanationsfor why we invaded Iraq ... several different ones, as a matter of fact, that shifted over time. Some of my friends say Bush got rolled by Cheney and the other neo-cons, but I know that can't be true.

So Mr Rosen, can you help me. Why did we?


I always sign here as Link, I don't mean to be anonymous.  

By Anonymous Candide, at Sat May 02, 10:47:00 PM:


This is getting ridiculous. Iraq invasion was a big decision. We just explored in depth the decision to nuke Hiroshime and Nagasaki and its obvious there is no simple explanation, there were many reasons, some even contradictory to each other. Same with Iraq. So stop demanding facile explanations.

Saddam was an enemy of the US. Saddam was the only foreign leader that went to "hot" war with the US since WWII. Saddam had to pay for this and he did. What else do you want to know?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 03, 09:40:00 AM:

From Link,

There's no comparing Hiroshima/Nagasaki to Iraq.

There's a simple explanation for why we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- it was in furtherance of the objective we had had since Pearl Harbor -- the unconditional surrender of Japan at the least cost in American lives. To this end, it was highly effective. Not to make light of the burden Truman must have felt, but it was a simple decision -- yes or no.

Truman didn't wake up one day and seek out a country to bomb or to invade. The cup was passed to him ... he did what he had to do.

There's no "good" explanation for why we invaded Iraq ... which is why there's no "good simple" explanation. Candide gives us a "bad simple" explanation, and it's revealing.

Bush 41 consciously chose not to push on to Baghdad in 1991 -- so as to topple Saddam -- when he could have. But Candide calls Saddam "an enemy of the US" ... "who had to pay for this and he did." Candide is channeling Bush 43 - Cheney ... and makes my point exactly. Simple and bad ...

If the right keeps defending the Iraq War, they'll keep losing elections in much of America -- for at least a couple of cycles -- but cycles that matter ... which is why I care about this issue -- it's not old news yet. Obama & Co will finds ways to bring up the sins and mistakes of Bush-Cheney -- directly and indirectly -- whenever they need to.

Obama is nationalizing whole swaths of the economy, while pissing away trillions -- without any effective political opposition. That's the US delivered to you by the likes of Bush 43, Cheney, Rove and Rush.

When they ran in 2000, Bush-Cheney said they were for traditional Republican beliefs -- once they were in power, they proved anything but -- and so ruined the brand. I feel betrayed ... am I alone?

his best impression of Peron and Chavez  

By Anonymous Candide, at Sun May 03, 11:46:00 AM:


You said, "There's a simple explanation for why we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- it was in furtherance of the objective we had had since Pearl Harbor -- the unconditional surrender of Japan at the least cost in American lives."

I can equally say, "There's a simple explanation for why we removed Saddam -- it was in furtherance of the objective we had had since 1991 -- the unconditional surrender of Saddam at the least cost in American lives."

We had objective to remove Saddam, put forth by Bush 41 and repeatedly re-confirmed by Clinton and Gore. We conducted limited war with Saddam for 12 years with no effect.

What other options we had? Indefinite confrontation, like with North Korea? or complete withdrawal, like with North Vietnam?

Would you like to see Saddam Iraq to end as North Korea, with endless stalemate and recurrent confrontations?

Would you like to see Saddam Iraq end up as North Vietnam, with Saddam re-taking Kuwait 1 year after we withdrew?

By all rights Iraq war must go into history books as one of the most successful military operation of all times. Iraq war is everything that the US was trying to do in Korea and Vietnam, finally brought to successful conclusion, executed competently, professionally and with a minimum loss of military lives. I still hope that in 10 years cool heads will see it for what it really was.

And I do not worry about losing "couple of elections cycles". Actually, if History is any guide that was to be expected. Remember that Churchill was voted out of office even before WWII was over (to come back in 10 years or after a "couple of election cycles"). And since we were talking about Truman, remember how hated he was by the end of his second term (Eisenhower even refused to appear with him on the day of assuming office).  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon May 04, 01:40:00 AM:

"So Mr Rosen, can you help me?"

No, your beyond help you pathetic nitwit.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon May 04, 01:27:00 PM:

Thanks Mr Rosen
You've convinced me that writing here is a waste of time.
Link, over and out  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon May 04, 02:10:00 PM:

The "apology" is too little, too late, too insincere. Stewart has become Michael Moore in a a suit and tie. He should have stuck to comedy and not tried to be a serious pundit.he is taking himself oh too seriously.  

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