Look Who's Talking: Cellphone Snoops, The SecState, And Sarah Palin's Poultry Pardon

Illustration for article titled Look Whos Talking: Cellphone Snoops, The SecState, And Sarah Palins Poultry Pardon

You know we've all done it — snooped on a romantic interest. He just left his cell phone lying there and you peeked at his text messages. Or he left his email running on your computer and you couldn't help but have a tiny peek at what he's been saying and who he's been saying it to. So it probably comes as no surprise that someone did the same thing to his or her crush object, Barack Obama. The Daily Beast's Ana Marie Cox and I disagree over snooping ethics, why Attorney General Mukasey collapsed, Obama and Hillary, and turkey slaughter. After the jump.ANA MARIE: Ready when you are. MEGAN: I am personally ready to go back to bed, pull my covers over my head and stay there for several hours, but I'm happy to write this first. ANA MARIE: Yeah I'm in the same mood. But what's on your mind? MEGAN: You mean, other than the fact that hardly anyone still cares about politics enough to read about it?

The most pronounced declines were in traffic at popular news Web sites, which saw a steady increase for months. The tide crested as Americans went to the polls; MSNBC.com, which has been the most popular news site for several months, had 25.1 million unique visitors during the week of the election (it also reported 471 million page views on Election Day — a record for the site). Since then, millions of visitors have gone elsewhere, according to Nielsen Online.


ANA MARIE: Well, when we have something to talk about besides Hillary Clinton, they may come back. It's interesting that the broadcast nets haven't seen the same downturn, for instance — and I wonder how, say, TPM or Redstate are doing. I mean, there is a lack of NEWS — unless you count frenzied speculation as "news" — so this could just be good judgment on the part of viewers. MEGAN: Well, I know how I'm doing in terms of traffic, and it comes down to "Where my bitches at?" But, really, are the latest polls and Electoral College speculations news either? Sarah Palin's manhandling of the English language? Tucker Bounds' endless enthusiasm for getting his ass handed to him on national TV? ANA MARIE: Well that was a story with a definitive ending. Twists and turns and some fake outs, but there was going to be an end, and people wanted to see how it'd turn out. The Obama story is just getting started. We don't have a sense of who the characters are (where is the damn fucking PUPPY?), who the villains are, what the great struggles will be... MEGAN: Whether the puppy is house trained... ANA MARIE: WHAT PAPER WILL IT POOP ON????? THAT, my friend, is the way we solve business model for the MSM. What paper will have the honor of being the First Puppy's training pad. MEGAN: What is an environmentally responsible way to clean up dog shit on the White House lawn... and will the girls have to do it? ANA MARIE: I sort of hope the girls have to do it. It's good practice for dating (I.e., discovering cute things can make horrible messes). MEGAN: Wow, and suddenly I have a reason to blame my sister's allergies for the whole of my adult life. Okay, so, the other thing is I guess there's a good reason Obama will be giving up his Blackberry and it's not even just to avoid the Freedom Of Information Act — or it's not going to be now. ANA MARIE: I wonder if you can really call it "hacking" if they were employees who likely just snooped where they shouldn't have. I mean, that sort of elevates "being a dick" to something that sounds technologically sophisticated. I am offended on the part of hackers. MEGAN: True that, it wasn't really "hacking" as much as it was using their privileges for unauthorized purposes. The Paris Hilton Sidekick hackers are totally offended. ANA MARIE: It's also true that by that logic, no one in the White House or, really, anywhere in government should have a cell phone. Unauthorized searches, they're not just for the Bush Administration anymore! This is what happens when you gives telcoms immunity! They get cocky! MEGAN: Yes, and half of the Ohio government too, it seems, since they were all furiously digging into Joe The Motherfucking Plumber, and not in a sexytime way. ANA MARIE: That's the thing about having a job with access to sensitive information — at some point, you probably are going to be in a position where your curiosity gets the better of you. I actually don't know if I have a problem with employees LOOKING UP that info. Because how do you restrict people who normally have a reason to be looking up random people's dirty secrets? The issue here might have been, you know, telling the media. MEGAN: Yes, that part. I mean, I have a problem if someone at my cell phone provider goes, ooh, look, she wrote something online I didn't like, let's go learn about her life! But I have less of a problem if someone wants to dig through my state records and find an unpaid parking ticket. I have a bigger problem if they then tell people about it. I mean, this was the State Department scandal last year — and it turns out that it was actually easy to restrict access, it's just nobody did so. ANA MARIE: That's probably as good a segue as any to my favorite aspect of the Clinton SecState pick-or-no-pick: How much of it is simply fucking with other possible appointees? Al Kamen examines the "whither Richardson" part of it here. But of course the real loser in a Hillary as SecState situation is Kerry. He is a loser generally. MEGAN: Well, Obama's team is confirming they're serious, finally. I don't think it's fucking with Richardson, Kerry, Hagel or Nunn, I think it's just going, um, Kerry, no, Hagel, no, Nunn, definitely not, and Richardson should have thought about his political career instead of his dick for a while now. ANA MARIE: I do no believe a word I read on Politico, but apparently the WSJ has similar confirmation. MEGAN: I don't necessarily believe a word I read anywhere, but it seems like if it wasn't serious than, like Pritzker, they would have cut it off at the knees more than a week ago. ANA MARIE: I think this is a more complicated situation than Pritzker. Also, Obama has nothing to lose here, if the situation is that he wants to offer it to her. The only bad play is if it turns out he was never serious. Then he looks like a dick. But weeks of speculation, followed by an offer? She turns him down=she will be more powerful in the Senate and gets to be her own woman. He looks magnamious. She accepts=he looks wise, she probably does an okay job AND she's off the radar for 2012. MEGAN: And a huge dick at that, and I just don't think that Axelrod or Gibbs would have been letting this go on if it wasn't serious consideration. I love, by the way, that every time I hear a story about liberals being upset about this, she's called "pro-war." Like, guys, really? Hillary Clinton is really not particularly hawkish and you're making yourselves look stupid. ANA MARIE: Well, she was very much pro the particular war that was fucking us up for awhile. MEGAN: She was very pro-Afghanistan, but who other than Barbara Lee wasn't in September 2001? Anyway, we should probably also talk about Mukasey collapsing, even though he's reportedly okay. Mukasey should be careful when giving speeches defending all the extra-legal shit this Administration has done, it takes a man with steel balls, an icy heart and a strong stomach to lie like Gonzales did for so long. ANA MARIE: Which is why Dick Cheney will probably live forever. MEGAN: Dick Cheney will only live as long as he has a fresh supply of innocent blood on which to feast. Speaking of, did you see Palin and the turkeys?

ANA MARIE: Ugh. I haven't eaten yet so I supposed if I look at all I should look now but ... MEGAN: I am not squeamish about my omnivory, but if you get squicked, don't watch, ANA MARIE: But I don't doubt that lady likes blood. MEGAN: Basically, two turkeys get slaughtered and are bled out behind her as she talks — surprisingly well — about issues facing Alaska. ANA MARIE: Well, she's not bad when she's on subjects that she knows something about. It's just that there are surprisingly few of those. MEGAN: I think, strictly speaking, her lack of preparation speaks well for whomever are the candidates in 2012 (or, at least the one who has to pick a VP) to not play this stupid game of chicken to try to one-up the other side. If he had picked her in, like, June, then I think she wouldn't have been so terrible. ANA MARIE: "How the Palin nomination would not have been so terrible" could be a very long book. A sad one, ultimately, and probably not one anyone would read. Speaking of which: I wonder what this downturn in interest in politics means for the kajillion Obama books that will be coming out! MEGAN: I think once most Americans have their commemorative coins and plates, that will be about it. ANA MARIE: Did Richard Wolffe let Obama beat him in basketball for nothing? "I sucked up to Obama for a year and a half and all I got was this lousy book contract." MEGAN: Well, he might just want to wait until the Administration fucks something up and then do it as a tell-all of hubris and overconfidence or something. ANA MARIE: Smart.

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Ok, at the risk of drawing a lot of ire: I don't think Hillary should be SecState.

I think Hillary is an extraordinarily effective politician. I think she is a strong, loud, respected voice in the Senate. I think she is extremely well-versed in health care policy and legislation, education policy and legislation, and equal rights policy and legislation. I think she is okay with foreign affairs, and she is not — I repeat is not — anywhere near as adept with or nuanced in her understanding of foreign affairs and foreign policy. I really, really think that, with the next four years shaping up the way they are, we need Hillary's ability to really shape and push legislation in order to make Congress as effective as it needs to be to maintain and/or increase the Democratic majority in the legislative branch. I think we need her in the Congress and not in the White House.

I feel like when I say that, people skew it to mean I'm saying she's not qualified. I suppose she is, but I really think she'd be much better leading the Senate.