Jon Stewart‘s big success is mostly thanks to his blazing, relentless attacks on the Bush administration beginning with the lead-up to the Iraq war.
Nevertheless, in the last few months as many of the top administration officials have come out with books they’ve been willing to cart their wares across Stewart’s couch to admittedly mostly friendly results. Last night Condoleezza Rice was the latest to make the trip.
Stewart is at his weakest when he attempts to hold people to account face-to-face (who can forget his disappointing interview with author of the Bush torture memos, John Woo? It was so bad Stewart later apologized for it).
Last night’s exchange with Rice was far stronger, and entirely civil, and Stewart was able to get some good points in about the “selling” of the war but as always when push comes to shove, he makes a joke.
So what’s perhaps more fascinating about these exchanges is watching how smoothly Bush officials remain able to defend the more controversial aspects of the Iraq War without facing a great deal of pushback.
In hindsight plenty of smart people have wondered how the Bush administration was able to justify the war on faulty intelligence (something Rice admits in this interview she regrets…though she doesn’t regret the war itself). But actually, watching her sail through this interview with Stewart — who at one point concedes her book made him realise how much more complicated things were than Monday morning quarter-backing allowed — it doesn’t seem so puzzling.
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