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Trashing Ted Kennedy

Reported by Chrish - January 30, 2005

It was unanimous on Special Report Thursday, 1/27, with Brit Hume and his panel of "All Stars" saying that Ted Kennedy was "totally irresponsible" (Mort Kondracke), "talking complete nonsense" (Charles Krauthammer), and "no one will mistake Kennedy as speaking for the US" (Mara Liasson). (Comment: I think the whole world knows that Ted Kennedy's views are not representative of this administration, but they are representative of a large number of Americans and deserve to be heard.) Brit summed up the sentiments with "No one at this desk thinks this speech was intellectually of substance." He said it was billed as a major foreign policy address, delivered to a prestigious institution; Krauthammer interjected that it was "a major address from a washed up has been who cannot make a major address."

What Kennedy said, that Fox found so egregious: "We can't defeat the insurgency militarily if we don't effectively address the political context in which the insurgency flourishes. Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing: the hearts and minds of the people. And that is a battle we are not winning."

Brit Hume twisted the words, reframing the Senator's comments like so: "Well he didn't quite say that the insurgency is popular, but that's pretty close to it. What about that?" (Comment: At Fox, pretty close is good enough.)

Kondracke spoke (clumsily) of the leaflets distributed in Iraq which graphically threatened Iraqis with beheadings if they vote, and said that "these are the people that Ted Kennedy wants to give in to, basically let 'em have the country, announce right now that we're leaving, pull out 12,000 troops as a starter, and we're going to train up the Iraqi military, but we're bugging out, and who are we going to enlist to stop these terrorists from wreaking havoc on the country?
The Arab League. That will help a lot." (Those last 8 words with much sarcasm.)

Mara's comment that 'no-one would mistake TK as speaking for the US's commitment to stay, I think the administration has made that clear' was followed up by Brit asking "What about the idea expressed in the comment... that we're losing the popularity contest (overtalking with Mara)?" She played right along, saying that was "a curious and unfortunate way of putting it. It's very much like, he sees this 'conflict' very much like Viet Nam." She went on to say that she does not see the similarity, the 'battle for hearts and minds' manifesting in mass demonstrations as it did in VN.
In answer to Brit's question "Is there anything about what the insurgents offer or are doing, or their roots, a nationalism for example that was very present in Viet Nam, that would make that analogy between the Viet Cong and these insurgents play?" Mara stated "No. I think there is mass opposition to the occupation; I think most Iraqis kind of 'thank you very much now get out', that's the attitude. I think most Iraqis would like to see the Americans gone; that's quite different than saying the insurgents are popular."

Charles Krauthammer said, among other things, that Kennedy is talking "complete nonsense"; the Ba'athists, the insurgents have no ideology, even Hitler had an ideology, all they offer is a return to the thuggery of Saddam Hussein; this is not 'hearts and minds'. He said the other side to the insurgency is that they are anti-democracy, fascists who don't want the Iraqis to have self rule. So, the analogy to Viet Nam was completely wrong.

A bit later Mort said he thought Kennedy was 'laying down a marker", wanting to be the voice of a certain point of view. Mara, ever agreeable, supported this statement and elaborated saying Kennedy had opposed this war from the beginning, he has been consistent. "Whether you feel his arguments are coherent is another matter."

Krauthammer replied saying "You can be against the war and say that it's hopeless. but at least if you want to be rational the argument IS that we're going to lose it because the enemy ,the insurgents are more ruthless (Brit, overtalking "or stronger in some ways")than we are (Krauthammer agreeing) or stronger, but not that they're more popular. That's what makes it (overtalking, unintelligible) There is no evidence of their popularity."

Mort Kondracke got the last word, citing Kennedy citing DOD numbers of 24,000 insurgents and 200,000 supporters in a country with a population of 70 million, presumably to show just how unpopular the insurgents are.

Comments: Where on earth did the DOD get these numbers? Really! Door to door polls? Talk about complete nonsense, delivered with such earnest seriousness.

Not having heard the speech, I checked the transcript to see what this talk of popularity contest was. I found the following uses of variations on the word:
"Beyond the insurgency's numbers, it has popular and tacit support from thousands of ordinary Iraqis who are aiding and abetting the attacks as a rejection of the American occupation." (Not only believable by virtue of common sense and watching the debacle the last 2 years, but confirmed by the DOD numbers Kondracke felt worth noting.)
" Anti-American sentiment is steadily rising. CDs that picture the insurrection have spread across the country. Songs glorify combatants. Poems written decades ago during the British occupation after World War I are popular again."

Brit Hume distorted the message, Mara Liasson didn't call him on it, and Kondracke and Krauthammer reinforced the distortion. Ted Kennedy was made out to seem he doesn't know history or foreign policy because he holds a point of view far different than the Fox panel.

Brit Hume exposes himself as a skilled tool for Fox and not an objective journalist; Krauthammer as a know-it-all elitist; Kondracke as an eager party-man, and Ms. Liasson as a conciliatory moderate. Fair and balanced? We report, you decide.

PS It's been a bad week for men named Ted on Fox. Ted Rall, you're next?

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