Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Tug o' War on FOX News Sunday

Reported by Marie Therese - December 12, 2006 -

While doing holiday baking Sunday afternoon (December 10th), I turned on FOX News Sunday just to have some background noise and also to check on FOX's pale imitation of Meet the Press. The topic of conversation was the same as it was on every other Sunday political talk show - the Iraq Study Group's long-anticipated and much-leaked report. I think someone cloned James Baker and Lee Hamilton - they seemed to be on every talk show saying the same things: We did our best, there's no easy solution, the situation in Iraq is rapidly deteriorating, we took the issue of Iran's nuclear ambition off the table, let's talk with Iran and Syria, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. There were several moments of sanity, however, when NPR's Juan Williams actually defended the Democratic leadership and butted heads with Brit Hume and Bill Kristol as they spouted neocon drivel.

In the first of two segments Brit Hume, predictably, trotted out the latest White House "smiley face" talking points in an attempt to repudiate the consensus opinion that the ISG report pulled back the curtain and showed that the situation in Iraq is close to meltdown.

"For one thing, contrary to some pretty wild misreporting this week, [the report] did not reject the President's policy on Iraq and in fact it accepted, with no change, his goals there," Hume said. "These recommendations taken as a whole and looked at in any context - this is a stay-the-course document. ... Everyone in this whole administration has said for the longest time that as the Iraqis stand up we stand down. The problem has been to get them to stand up and to get them to take on a role that some like Senator McCain believe at this point can only be served by U. S. troops. That's the real debate here and they have left that debate alone. They really didn't engage in it. They didn't take seriously, really, in any way the recommendation that there be a bigger American force to suppress the insurgency and, perhaps, then set the terms for all these other objectives that we're trying to achieve there. "

Translation: Mainstream media? Bad. FOX News? Good. ISG? Stupid know-nothings. President Bush? A stalwart besieged hero!

Chris Wallace pointed out that the ISG also did not give its imprimatur to the idea of an immediate pullout of troops.

Hume countered that "the document is all about how to get the troops out."

Mara Liasson disagreed with Hume, saying that she felt that the report was not an endorsement of staying the course, but did endorse the overall goals of the Bush administration, i.e. to leave behind a stable, self-governing Iraq capable of defending itself from internal and external enemies.

Bill Kristol gave the neocon side of things which boiled down to the statement that anything short of complete victory was a retreat and would reflect badly on America. When asked by Wallace why Kristol thought putting thousands more Americans into Baghdad would make a difference, Kristol replied: "Well the military planners are looking at that and I'm - serious military planners from General [John] Keane, a former Vice-Chief of the Army down through colonels. There's a group of retired colonels meeting this weekend looking at it and they believe an addition of troops would help create a decent security environment so then - which would allow us to continue training the Iraqi army and allow us to achieve, ultimately, our objectives in Iraq. We will have to stay a while. The President is gonna have to make this decision, and it's a tough decision, but he has to really decide - victory or withdrawal. ... It's as if Neville Chamberlain had had a Czechoslovak Study Group in 1938 - bi-partisan, conservatives, liberals and labor - he was still blamed for the disgraceful failure to assist Britain's Czech allies at that time and, if we lose in Iraq it will be a natural - I mean, it's so depressing I don't even like to think about it - but it will be a disgrace. It will be a disgrace. It will be our failure. It won't be the failure of Maliki. It will be our failure to have the patience and the ability to do what it takes to win this war."

Later on, Kriostol simply could not bring himself to admit that it was a "terrible mistake" to go into Iraq.

WILLLIAMS: The government of the United States made a terrible mistake in going into Iraq. We are now trying to fix this problem. We cannot - how are you going to say, oh, you know what (reacting to Kristol who was off screen) it wasn't a mistake. It wasn't a mistake to go into Iraq at this point?

KRISTOL: Absolutely not. And I was going to say it would be a dishonorable mistake to retreat and to be defeated in Iraq.

WILLIAMS: It's not a matter of retreat and defeat. It's a matter of acknowledging that we have gone in there and made a mess, that we have now got to take some steps to try to correct the situation.

(As you will see below, at one point Williams simply couldn't take Kristol and Hume anymore.)

BILL KRISTOL: ... But I agree. Some of the Republicans are going wet or squishy, if you prefer. I was shocked. [Republican Sen.] Sam Brownback said to you just a few minutes ago that he had growing impatience with the war in Iraq. [Republican] Sen. [Gordon] Smith said he's at the end of his rope. But this is a war, you know.


BRIT HUME: The President may have been given a gift by the Iraq Study Group in the sense that it is generally in line with his purposes. Whatever he presents, if it seems to adopt a lot of what they say and represent what people seem willing - for reasons not clear to me - to call a new approach, may buy him some time politically. Now, he can be a - he can sustain this by virtue that he'll be the commander-in-chief for the next couple of years but, if the political support ebbs away at the rate that it's going, it will be very difficult indeed and it will also leave the insurgents with the idea that all they've got to do is wait for this guy to leave office and they're gonna be in the land of milk and honey in Iraq and will run the place, so it's a - this is a tight spot militarily, where the options seem so few, and politically, where the ground is sliding away from the President.

JUAN WILLIAMS (excited): Let me just say this. Squishy? Impatient? You know, they'll be in the land of milk and honey, the insurgents will be? What do you imagine? That somehow there's an American administration that's coming in, Republican or Democrat, after President Bush that's just gonna lay down and run away like scared little - little pets?

HUME: It will not - it will not be be phrased that way, but if you look into the lang -

WILLIAMS (annoyed): How ... you know what?

HUME (annoyed, sharply): Listen. Listen, Juan, it's very simple!

WILLIAMS (interrupting): This is really - I'll tell you - sometimes I just want to scream. You guys have been going on since this thing began - I mean, you don't give credit to people - Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Barbara Lee - people who said from the start this is a mistake. You put 'em down. Now it's [as if you're saying that]everybody's a 'surrender monkey' or impatient or squeamish or weak.

HUME : Juan ...

WILLIAMS: Why can't you say, hey, there's real problem in Iraq?!

HUME: I know, Juan, but there is a real problem in Iraq. Everyone recognizes that. I asked Nancy Pelosi a very simple question: "Do you think it's more important to end this war or win it?" and her answer was: This is not a war to be won. This is a problem to be fixed, to be solved ...


HUME: ... an issue to be resolved. What she wants and what a great many Democrats want and, I fear, an increasing number of Republicans want is to get the war over with one way or another and make it look as good as possible. (angry) That is not a forumla for success and it is certainly not a formula for victory!


WILLIAMS: Let's just talk for a sxecond about what we mean by "victory". And my suggestion to you is that the reason Nancy Pelosi says to you it's a problem to be fixed is [that] we're not fighting against Iraq. We're trying to develop stability in Iraq. We're trying to find a way to get these sectarian groups to live together and to protect Israel and to stabilize the Middle East. That's what we're trying to do. (looking at Kristol) You shake your head. Am I wrong?

KRISTOL (suddenly fidgety): How did Israel come into that? I mean ... (nervous laugh)

WILLIAMS: Because I think Israel and the fact that so many of the - so many of the Al Qaeda types want to pick on Israel and say Israel is the source of their problems. We want to get that out of the way.

KRISTOL: And that's why the Shi'a - that's why the Shi'a are killing the Sunni and the Sunni are killing the Shi'a?

WILLIAMS: No. I didn't say that. I said that's what - that's a convenient example for the extreme people - the Islamic extremists - to say that that's the reason for them to engage in terrorism and we want to do away with that cause.

KRISTOL (sarcastically): I missed that excuse. Is that why the Shi'a are killing the Sunni?


It was gratifying to hear someone on FOX News Channel actually defend prominent Democrats who rightly predicted that invading Iraq would be a disaster.

The comment that most intrigued me was Bill Kristol's statement that "there's a group of retired colonels meeting this weekend looking at it and they believe an addition of troops would help create a decent security environment".

I suddenly visualized a table in a dark pub occupied by Cols. Cowan, Hunt and Peters - FOX News' three favorite military analysts - tossing back scotches while they brainstormed new and exciting ways to keep America bogged down in Iraq for the next 20 years!