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Did "Democratic Strategist" Agree with John Howard's Anti-Obama Comments?

Reported by Marie Therese - February 13, 2007 -

On Sunday night's edition of Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity and fellow conservative Michael Reagan faced off against Democrats Laura Schwartz and Jane Fleming to discuss anti-Obama remarks made by Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The ultraconservative Howard, who is very strong supporter of George Bush's Iraq policy, said that Al Qaeda should be praying for an Obama win because that would mean a boost for the terrorist agenda. Howard is up for reelection and is not doing well, as he has consistently gone against Australian voters' overwhelming opposition to support for the Iraq war. (With video.)

Hannity opened the segment by airing a clip of PM Howard saying this to Australia's Nine Network TV: "[Obama's] a long way from being President of the United States. I mean, he's wrong. I think that would just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for and Obama victory. If I were running Al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray as many times as possible not only for a victory for Obama but also for the Democrats."

Hannity then showed a short clip of Senator Obama saying that he took it as a "compliment" that less than 24 hours after announcing his candidacy a Bush supporter from half-way around the world decided to attack him.

This was followed by a regular segment called "2 on 2" that features two Republlicans(usually Hannity and another middle-aged male guest) versus two "liberals" (generally Laura Schwartz of White House Strategies and Jane Fleming of Young Democrats of America, both much younger than the males). As I've watched how this segment has played out over the past few weeks, the subliminal message being sent is that two older conservative males can defeat two much younger females through the use of tactics like overtalking, interrupting, arguing and a favorite of passive aggressives - invalidation by verbal fiat.

There's a perfect example of this below. Watch how Fleming makes her argument, then Hannity totally dismisses it by "verbal fiat" when he says "but that's the wrong answer." With this one statement his invalidates her and therefore she is diminished in the eys of the older male viewers, thus reinforcing the basic message of male supremacy that FOX News wants to send to its predominantly male viewers.

(Aside: One wonders how Hannity and Reagan would have fared against the powerhouse duo of Randi Rhodes and Laura Flanders or Stephanie Miller?)

Hannity asked Jane Fleming: " ... What would happen, in your mind, if Barack Obama's plan is implemented and we pull out of Iraq without having victory as a prerequisite? What happens, in your mind, in Iraq if we do that?"

Fleming gave a measured, thoughtful response indicating that we are not having success in Iraq at the present time by "continuing the failed plan and failed strategy that Bush has. Eescalating the war in Iraq is not the right answer. We've tried it twice before and every time we do, it increases violence."

HANNITY: "Now, Michael Reagan, this is the problem with the Democrats' position, because that's the wrong answer. If we pull out, this is what happens. We send the message to our enemies world-wide. We embolden our enemies. Number two, we allow Al Qaeda to set up an insurgency camp there with the oil revenues from Iraq and then we'll see probably something - a humanitarian disaster, something similar to the killing fields in Cambodia. Democrats don't seem to want to deal with that aspect. Do you agree with my analysis?"

MICHAEL REAGAN: "Oh, I agree with your analysis and you're right. Look at Taiwan. China looks at Taiwan. Taiwan looks at China. And if we pull out and show that we don't have the backbone to finish the fight that we're in, then Taiwan's gonna have to worry about China and they're gonna have to go nuclear to protect themselves What about Japan. What are they gonna have to do about North Korea They're probably gonna have to go nuclear to protect themselves because nobody on the planet will think the United States of America has the backbone to finish something they, in fact, get themselves into. We do not want to leave a void in the Middle East and leave Al Qaeda and the terrorists in there to, in fact, run that area of the world."

Comment: What Hannity neglected to tell his viewers is that a few weeks ago on FOX News Sunday Vice President Dick Cheney said that success in Iraq would take anywhere from 20 to 40 years to achieve. If it continued to cost $650 billlion a year, the American economy would be bankrupt long before Iraq became a stable democracy.

As for Michael Reagan, he's apparently been living in a bubble and doesn't know that as soon as we allowed big business into China, Taiwan's future became problematic. Taiwan has known for years that the United States would probably not defend it were it attacked by the mainland. As for Japan their population doesn't even like the idea of an offensive force, preferring to keep their military defensive instead. Nuclear weapons? Give me a break! As for a void in the Middle East, that's already the case there, since we allowed Israel to invade and destroy Lebanon, turned down overtures from both Syria and Iran, including offer to recognize Israel, and thumbed our noses at the whole idea of sitting down and talking with our enemies.

Hannity then repeated a favorite talking point, that leaving Iraq would validate bin Laden's statement that America doesn't "have the stomach to stick it out and fight it through anymore. ... Don't you see the danger of not having a full victory in Iraq?

Laura Schwartz answered that "it's really tough to define victory in Iraq." Then she said something really odd, referring back to the John Howard comments that opened the segment.

SCHWARTZ: " ... And I think John Howard was right on the Republican talking points. He was wrong on the generalization that any Democrat victory in 2008 would be great for the terrorists because I think responsible phasedf deployment is a better way to go without the timelines and the deadlines.

Stop the presses!! Did Schwartz indicate by these words that she actually believes that PM John Howard was CORRECT when he said in the first part of his statement that "[Obama's] a long way from being President of the United States. I mean, he's wrong. I think that would just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for and Obama victory." Unless i need a hearing aid, that seemed to be the gist of her remarks to Sean Hannity.

If I'm right, then either Laura Schwartz is a closet Republican, masquerading as a Democrat for FOX News Channel, or she's a Democrat who's supporting (working for?) a rival of Obama's who is threatened by his presence in the race. Either way, after this remark, the perky blonde Ms. Schwartz has lost any credibility she might have had as an impartial commentator.

Hannity argued that "phased redeployment without concern for victory" is the same as losing the war. "Don't we need to win, Laura Schwartz?," Hannity asked. "Isn't that an important compenent? Does it - can America win in your view?"

Schwartz answered "Absolutely. And, you know what, Sean, we're not winning now!"
Hannity immediately negated her by verbal fiat, saying "Oh, we are winning."

After some slight crosstlak, Jane Fleming finally got a word in to end the segment, stating that our soldiers should not be in Iraq to settle what is, in essence, a political struggle among factions that needs a political solution.

COMMENT

While I expected Hannity to be over the top in his dislike of Senator Barack Obama, I cannot shake the feeling that so-called Democratic strategist Laura Schwartz had a hidden agenda in this debate - and that agenda did not include making positive statements about Barack Obama.