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FOX News Chickenhawks Dodge Iraq War Debate Like It’s Military Service

Reported by Ellen - February 19, 2007 -

Chickenhawk Newt Gingrich was the sole guest for a double segment on Friday night’s (2/16/07) Hannity & Colmes to discuss the non-binding resolution passed by the House of Representatives that day opposing President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. He and fellow Chickenhawk Sean Hannity must have forgotten that less than a month ago, they had decided to be uniters, not dividers. Friday, they were united in sanctimoniously smearing those who voted against the president as terrorism-abettors. Yet with all that bravado, there was no guest in opposition despite the fact that the majority of Americans also oppose the troop surge. Moreover, after Gingrich, there was a one-sided report about the surge from Geraldo Rivera, embedded with the troops. One might think that those big blowhards were afraid to hold a real debate over the policy.

Now that I think of it, I can’t remember a single time Gingrich has appeared with an opposing guest. Nor can I recall a single report from Iraq that didn't report enthusiastically of our success there. Not that the Iraq war nor the allegation of abetting terrorism is all THAT important. It’s certainly not as important to the Hannity & Colmes producers as Anna Nicole Smith. She got the first half-hour of the show. That made Newt and Geraldo, along with the troops the FOX News execs profess to love so much, Anna Nicole's sloppy seconds.

As he did the previous night with Ann Coulter, Alan Colmes asked “Why hasn’t this administration given (the troops) the equipment and training they need which by all accounts they’ve not done? Wouldn’t that be supporting the troops?”

Like Coulter (another FOX News chickenhawk) before him, Gingrich dodged the question. Instead of answering, Gingrich smeared. “Alan, I will bet you that virtually every publication in the Arab world portrays this vote as a defeat for the American position in Iraq."

Al Jazeera didn’t. It would have been nice if Gingrich had bothered to do his homework before making such a declaration.

But Gingrich didn’t stop there with his smear-mongering supposition. “I will bet you every terrorist blog site will hail this vote as a victory for the anti-American side.” Comment: How many terrorist blogs is Gingrich really familiar with? I suspect this claim has about as much validity as the one in which he promised a “positive dialogue” on the issues.

Gingrich continued to “elevate the discourse” by saying “I don’t care what they say about supporting the troops. They went out of their way to pass a resolution which will be seen around the world as weakening America’s position.” What makes him “know” that? He didn’t say. Interestingly, Gingrich never actually defended the surge, nor did he explain why he thinks it will work or even whether he thinks it will work, just that we ought to go along because the president is The Decider.

“They say they support the troops. They say it. They lecture us.” Sean Hannity was referring to Democrats but he could have been speaking about himself. It’s a pattern of Hannity’s that I have just begun to notice: He makes a big show of concern about undermining the troops but he only discusses them in the context of attacking Democrats. Hannity continued, waving his bullyboy pen for emphasis. “But let’s be blunt and let’s be honest here, this non-binding resolution and the plan – you know, death by a thousand cuts that John Murtha’s proposing here, this will undermine our troops. This will guarantee defeat. We can’t win this way. And this will embolden our enemies and it will make America and the world less safe.”

Later, in Part 2 of the interview, Hannity showed his real concern for the troops by calling Murtha’s proposed requirements, that they have the proper equipment and training, “these ridiculous standards.”

Hannity never said how he knew that Murtha’s proposal would make the United States more vulnerable. Nor did Gingrich, other than to draw an analogy to Viet Nam. Gingrich said, “The Democrats in Congress in 1975 cut off all funding to South Viet Nam and guaranteed the defeat of South Viet Nam by communist North Viet Nam. The Democrats in 1975 promised there would be no terrible consequences if we were defeated. Two million Cambodians were killed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.”

But there are a few flaws in Gingrich’s reasoning: First of all, there has been neither attack nor threat to the United States from North Viet Nam since we left. Second, the South Vietnamese were never in league with another stated enemy of ours, the way members of the Iraqi government are in league with Iran (H/T Randi Rhodes). Third, our allies were not gearing up to support the faction killing Americans, the way our allies, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are gearing up to support the Sunnis.

While Hannity and Gingrich, along with other FOX News chickenhawks such as Dick Morris, have been salivating to go to war against Iran, “real journalism” FOX News has never reported on the ties between the members of the Iraq government our troops are dying for and Iran.

"Uniter" Gingrich said, “It’s very surprising to watch the American elite try to hide from this evidence of Iranian involvement… The evidence is mounting every week. It’s coming out of totally professional sources. The desperation to be anti-Bush is so great that there are many people now who would rather deny the truth about Iranian threats and Iranian involvement rather than in any way find themselves agreeing with the president.”

I have to wonder if one reason the Bush administration and the Republicans are so desperate to attack Iran is so that they can stop trying to prop up the Shiite government in Iraq.

After Gingrich, there was a report from Geraldo Rivera, embedded with the troops in Iraq, who reported the good news, only, about the troop surge. Rivera said the level of violence in “the usually blood-soaked Iraqi capital far lower than it has been for months.”

“It’s easy to see what’s different since the surge began,” he continued. “For one thing, the Iraqi forces are involved in protecting their own city. Both the improving army and the much-maligned Iraqi police, who still have a pretty rough reputation for unreliability. But backed by and watched over by their own army and ours, the Iraqi cops are out and working the streets.” Footage was shown of kids playing soccer. A soldier said that local feedback has been “very positive.”

But somehow, the “we report, you decide” FOX News never got around to reporting this less than positive feedback about the surge, in which a group of Iraqi academics told of being beaten and robbed by Iraqi “security forces” as part of the crackdown.

At the end, Colmes asked Rivera if the war debate is really hurting morale.

Rivera said his sense from the troops is that “It’s irritating, it’s not decisive… They understand that the American people have separated the men from the mission. They may be sour on the war but they love these guys so I think in that sense politicians are just blowing smoke and wind.”

By the way, several military officers, including General Tommy Franks and General Paul Vallely, have told Hannity the same thing. Nevertheless, Hannity continues to use the “undermining-the-troops” smear as though he were never told differently.

In other words, Gingrich, Hannity and their ilk have avoided an honest debate the same way they avoided serving in the military.

You can watch both parts of the Gingrich interview on the Hannity & Colmes website.