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“Democratic Strategist” Kirsten Powers Boasts About Supporting Bush Torture Bill And Other Republican Talking Points While Knocking Democrats Who Criticize Bush

Reported by Ellen - October 1, 2006 -

For a long time, I have posted about the mediocrity of Kirsten Powers’ Democratic punditry on FOX News. In the past, she has been unable to articulate a cogent argument against Ann Coulter (with the exception of one terrific showing where Coulter fled the set in response to Powers’ tough questions while subbing for Alan Colmes). Otherwise, Powers usually seems more interested in cozying up to conservatives than in offering any advocacy for another point of view. However, she outdid herself Friday night, 9/29/06, when she overlooked George Allen’s tacit admission of using racial slurs, knocked Democrats for “pretending” that Iraq was better off under Saddam Hussein and wrapped up her appearance with a gratuitous, enthusiastic endorsement of Bush’s detainee interrogation bill. For those reasons, Powers is our newest resident of the dog house. With video.

Friday night, Powers was part of an “all star panel” that should have been called an “all conservatives panel.” The other members were Fred Barnes and Republican strategist Rich Galen. The panel put in a double-segment appearance on Friday night’s show. First, they discussed Sean Hannity’s softball interview (which included no questions from Alan Colmes) with George Allen in which Allen tacitly admitted having used racial slurs.

During that first segment, Hannity asked Powers about the issues of race that surfaced in the Allen campaign. "Now, you’ve got both sides’ allegations, direct testimony on the record from thirty-plus years ago. You think that’s relevant? Should that be discussed? Or do you think this is dirty politics?"

In fact, as Hannity and Powers ought to know, the so-called “direct testimony on the record” against Allen opponent Jim Webb comes solely from the recollections from a Republican’s 1983 interview with him. The author claims Webb said he would drive around Watts and Los Angeles with a rifle, shouting racial epithets, and pulling the trigger in African-Americans’ faces as part of a joke. Yet the author admits that account is missing from both his tape and his transcript of the interview. Nevertheless, Powers didn’t seem to think it worth mentioning that Hannity’s “on the record” remark was specious.

After groping for a moment, Powers came up with a decent, if fumbling, response to Hannity. “You know what I really think of this? This is sort of textbook politics campaigning. You know, you look at this campaign and I really think that what’s happened here is he’s just mishandled this from the beginning and it just sort of spun out of control and a lot of what we look at with candidates is, how do they, how do they handle the campaign? And people are looking at them and saying ‘how do they handle their campaign?’ It gives us a little insight into what kind of leader they would be. And what we’ve seen here is just a disaster of a campaign where it’s just been one thing after another. They completely mishandled the whole macaca thing. And, and I think that that reflects badly on him, as well it should.”

However, Powers’ comment was far from a pro-Democratic voice. For example, Barnes claimed Allen “got his game back” and Galen agreed that Allen “has his legs back under him.” Powers made no pro-Webb statement, not even a pro-Democratic statement. And it was left to Colmes to bring up the other allegations against Allen: the noose in his office, the “my mother made great pork chops” comment to show he wasn’t “too Jewish.” “Maybe I wasn’t part of the interview because he was afraid I’d bring up brisket,” Colmes quipped. He did Powers’ work for her as he added that many of Allen’s controversial remarks were recent, not from 30 years ago. Interestingly, Colmes addressed none of his questions in either segment to her.

The next segment aired a clip of California Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Angelides saying, “A new report out (last week) by the United Nations tells us that there is more torture in Iraq today than there was under Saddam Hussein. According to news accounts, a new National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the war in Iraq is hurting us in the broader war against terror – serving to stir up radicalism and terror across this globe.” That was followed by a clip of Oliver Stone criticizing Bush over his war on terror. “From September 12th on, the incident was politicized and it has polarized the entire world. It is a shame… It’s a waste of energy away from things that do matter such as poverty, death, disease, the planet, itself… Mr. Bush has set America back 10 years, maybe more.” Just in case viewers didn’t find that objectionable enough, FOX News blatantly violated its own “we report, you decide” motto, by displaying on the screen, “Oliver Stone caught in anti-Bush tyrade.” (sic)

Colmes started off by joking, “I think Oliver Stone was clearly wrong. He didn’t bring us back 10 years. He brought us back 35, to the Viet Nam era.” Colmes continued by noting that Angelides was referring to a UN report. Colmes asked Galen, “When he was torturing people, Saddam that is, during the Reagan administration, what was Ronald Reagan doing about it then?”

Galen could not answer the question, of course, and tried to duck it by trying to change the subject to Clinton’s efforts against the Taliban. Colmes said that Clinton went after bin Laden, then added, “You’re not answering my question, except with another question.” Galen was clearly stymied and Hannity broke in to take his turn.

Hannity launched into his well-worn attacks on Dick Durbin, John Murtha and John Kerry that twist their comments criticizing Bush administration policies into attacks on America and our troops. “The problem with Angelides’ comments… There is a thought process well within the Democratic Party that believes this and thinks this way.”

Fred Barnes agreed. “I don’t care what some guy from the UN says. I know a lot about Saddam Hussein and I don’t think for a moment that there’s more torture going on now in Iraq than there was during Saddam Hussein’s era and if that’s true, it was only because Saddam was killing people and not torturing them, just killing them.” He chuckled at that last thought. Barnes added that Angelides is a “desperate politician” reaching for issues to help his losing campaign. “But he is reaching an issue that appeals to a lot of Democrats. We hear a lot of it in Washington, as you said. They want to get out of (Iraq). They want to weaken all the tools that are used in the war on terror and I think those things are going to hurt ‘em in the election, not help ‘em.”

Hannity turned to Powers with a quote from Bush saying that Democrats don’t have the stomach to fight the war on terror and offer nothing but criticism, obstruction, endless second-guessing. “You couple that with Durbin’s comments, Angelides’ comments, Murtha’s comments, Kerry’s comments, why wouldn’t the American people conclude Democrats are anything but weak on the war?”

Astoundingly, Powers had no argument against Hannity, made no mention of the NIE, in which the country's 16 intelligence agencies conclude that "the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives… We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe for this Estimate... We also assess that the global jihadist movement – which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells – is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.”

Instead, Powers quickly agreed with Barnes. “I actually agree with what Fred just said. I mean, you’re going to be surprised (Comment: I doubt it.) I do think that this kind of stuff hurts Democrats (unlike, say, her own half-hearted advocacy and gratuitous attacks on them, I’m sure) and I don’t think that what Angelides said is true and I think that it’s wrong when Democrats try to PRETEND (her emphasis) that somehow life is worse for Iraqis under Saddam Hussein.” (sic). Then she boasted about her own conservatism. “I’m actually – and Alan and I are arguing about it – I’m with the 12 Democrats who voted for the president’s bill. I know Alan doesn’t like to hear it. You know, I think it’s a political mistake and it’s a policy mistake.”

Colmes groaned.

Comment: In her apparent eagerness to boost her conservative street cred, Powers not only disavowed the UN report on torture but also the Amnesty International report "Iraq -- Decades of Suffering," saying that while the systematic repression under Saddam had ended, it had been replaced by increased murders, and sexual abuse -- including by U.S. forces. She also overlooked the USA Today/Gallup poll taken in May, 2005 in which many more Iraqis said they were worse off after the US invasion, reported more incidents of no electricity, no water, no food, no medicine, and being more afraid to go out at night. They did, however, feel freer to speak their minds, something Powers just criticized Democrats for having done.

Here's the second Powers segment.