October 4th, 2009
03:28 PM ET
13 years ago

State of the Union: Crib Sheet for Sunday, October 4

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/29/john.king.political.roundup/art.facebook.king.cnn.jpg caption="CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and what will be making news this week."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Afghanistan dominated the Sunday conversation, and two things jumped out as we listened to James Jones, the retired Marine Corps general who serves as President Obama’s national security adviser:

*A characterization of the security situation in Afghanistan that seemed, to us anyway, more optimistic than the assessment the commanding general of U.S. forces made in his report to the White House requesting more troops.

*And a statement that made pointedly clear that the White House, or General Jones, at least, is less than thrilled that Gen. Stanley McChrystal is lobbying publicly for more troops at a time the administration wants time to consider its overall Afghanistan strategy.

Consider Gen. Jones in his own words:

National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command and I think that general McChrystal and the others in the chain of command will present the president with not just one option, which does, in fact, tend to have a, you know, enforcing function, but a range of options that the president can consider.”

National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“ Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the Al Qaeda
presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 reported operating in the country. No bases. No buildings to launch attacks on either us or our allies. The problem is, the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border.”

National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“I don't foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.”

And this rebuttal to Sen. John McCain, who suggested that the White House may reject a request for thousands more troops in order to placate the president’s liberal base.

National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“He [Sen. McCain]knows I don't play politics… and I certainly don't play it with national security and neither does anyone else I know. The lives of our young men and women are on the line. The strategy does not belong to any political party and I can assure you that the President of the United States is not playing to any political base. I take exception to that remark.”

No shortage of talk and finger pointing on health care, but no blockbuster developments in the policy debate or the legislative vote counting. There were, however, two major developments in the showdown with Iran over its nuclear program:

*Iran agreed to allow international inspectors to visit its newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility on Oct. 25th.

*And the New York Times reported on an internal U.N. assessment that suggests Iran now has the data and technical know-how to develop a nuclear bomb more quickly than has been suggested by the United States and Western allies.

The Obama national security team played down the Times report, and while applauding the decision to allow the inspections, there was a clear attempt to sound a skeptical, and even somewhat impatient note, on the issue of continued diplomacy with Iran.

National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“There's no substitute for inspections and verification and the fact that Iran came to the table and seemingly showed some degree of cooperation, I think, is a good thing. Clearly, on matters of proliferation, whether it's North Korea or Iran, the world is sending a strong message to both countries.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Dr. Susan Rice, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”
“The onus is now squarely on Iran to adhere to the commitments it has made. If it doesn't, time is short. We're not interested in talking for talking's sake, we're not interested in interminable negotiations. They have to demonstrate conclusively that their program is for peaceful purposes.”

A few other “Sound of Sunday” moments of note:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), on CNN’s “State of the Union” regarding reports that Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada may have acted improperly in trying to cover up an extramarital affair with a staffer that he later publicly acknowledged.
“I can't discuss this with you, other than to say there is a preliminary investigation going on and we will look at all aspects of this case as we do whenever there's a case before us and try to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-South Carolina), on “Fox News Sunday” responding to a question about conservative talk show host Glenn Beck
“He doesn't represent the Republican Party. You can listen to him if you like. I choose not to because, quite frankly, I don't want to go down the road of thinking our best days are behind us. We need to act decisively. People are genuinely upset with how much money we're spending up here. But at the end of the day, when a person says he represents conservatism and that the country's better off with Barack Obama than John McCain, that sort of ends the debate for me as to how much more I'm going to listen. So he has a right to say what he wants to say. In my view, it's not the kind of political analysis that I buy into.”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, on ABC’s “This Week” regarding the nation’s unemployment rate
“My own suspicion is that we're going to penetrate the 10% barrier and stay there for a while before we start down.”

At CNN, we watch the other Sunday shows so you don’t have to.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and the week ahead.
–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Email us feedback: StateoftheUnion@CNN.com

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Farrell in Houston

    John McCain can't lead or follow but he can get out of the way.

    October 4, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Maria - Proud Democrat

    If they need more troops then give it to them.

    Our kids are dying over there and we need to know that someone has a strategy and they know what they are doing

    If you aren't going to give them the troops they need then pull them out NOW!!

    October 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. LouieD

    Glenn Beck said that we're better off with Barack Obama than John McCain? I'm skeptical... When did he supposedly say this?

    October 4, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Obama's failures are piling up and up!!

    How many more failures from Obama must we suffer before people (Dems and the Media) begin to hold him accountable. While his failure with Chicago hosting the Olympics is a little more than an embarrassment – Obama's failures with the economy (unemployment near 10%) and with foreign policy (Iran and Afghanistan) threaten our prosperity and our very lives.

    Obama is fast becomming outed as nothing more than an intellectual elitist with no true grasp of how to handle the job of leader of the free world.

    It's a shame that so many have been fooled by him – only because he can give a good speech.

    October 4, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Margaret Owens

    What struck me about Sunday’s interview with National Security Adviser Jim Jones is that when he spoke of the strategy in Afghanistan, he referred to placing the lives of our young men and women on the line – not troops; young men and women. He made it clear that we are debating over the sacrifice of lives of human beings – not just troops. it is troubling to me that our civilian leaders talk about sending more troops to battle as if these are not young men and women who are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. Each loss of life is another impersonal statistic to the general population but to loved ones each loss is personal, deeply painful, the grief is lasting.

    October 4, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |