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A Hillary Clinton “Debate” With Two Anti-Hillary Guests

Reported by Ellen - February 25, 2007 -

“Fair and balanced” FOX News once again dodged a real debate by promulgating Pat Caddell as a Democratic spokesperson on Friday night’s (2/23/07) Hannity & Colmes discussion regarding the supposed tensions between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Caddell is a former Democratic pollster but, as Media Matters has noted, his “harsh criticism of Democrats and questionable allegiance to the Democratic Party have been evident for more than a decade.” On Friday night’s show, Caddell was so vehement, almost to the point of frenzied, in his anti-Hillary, anti-Democratic vitriol that the "opposing guest," Republican Robert Novak, wound up sounding relatively pro-Democrat. Updated with video.

Even Sean Hannity was more positive about Democrats than Caddell. In reference to the contretemps over David Geffen, Hannity said, “Hillary seemingly can’t take a punch… Obama comes flying out of the gate.” He claimed Obama sent “a message” to Clinton. “I actually think Obama handled it very well.”

Caddell might have seized that moment to speak more positively about Obama. Instead, he refused to say that either side “won.” Then he went on the attack against the Clintons. “These are people who trash everyone. They trash women, they trash their political opponents… It is a function of the way they do business… basically (it’s) the culture of gangster politics.”

Caddell’s faint praise of Obama? “We have new voices that need to be heard.” Funny, but he never elaborated on that.

Novak was more praiseworthy. “The word among Democrats is (Obama) showed he could take a punch and take a punch from one of the best punching teams in politics. I think if it lasts much longer, it will probably hurt him. But I think he’s the clear winner in this early skirmish.” Novak later said that Obama’s “star power” is “scaring the dickens” out of Clinton.

Alan Colmes noted the lopsided media attention on Clinton/Obama and the lack of coverage of friction between McCain and Cheney. “While we’re focusing on this, Pat, aren’t we kind of ignoring, and the mainstream media kind of ignoring that while this is going on, all the sniping going on, John McCain attacking Cheney, saying he badly serves Bush? Cheney then (demanding) McCain apologize to him? McCain calling Rumsfeld the worst secretary ever? Cheney saying Britain pulling out of Iraq shows how well things are going over there?” In my view, it's an important point (and one I previously made, myself), especially given that the issues between McCain and Cheney (the Iraq war) and those between Clinton and Obama (a Hollywood fundraiser) are far more serious and important to the electorate.

Caddell’s response? “But it’s hardly as much fun” to talk about the Republicans than the Democrats.

Colmes opined that conservatives are pumping up Obama as a way of going after Hillary who is leading in the polls right now. Comment: And, quite possibly, as a way of taking the heat off themselves over the flak they received for promoting the phoney “madrassah” school story.

Novak denied that Republicans are attacking Clinton because of her poll standings. “The Republicans are in a lot of trouble, there’s no question, for 2008,” but he insisted that Republicans are more afraid of Obama than Clinton. “He has got a quality that probably hasn’t been seen at this early stage since the Kennedy’s.”

In the second part of the discussion, Colmes switched gears to Iraq and gave Caddell another opening. “Democrats are doing something. They’re putting forth a resolution that would restrict US military efforts in Iraq to training and logistical support and protecting the borders. Isn’t that a good idea to move forward with actually responding to the will of the American people?"

But Caddell was more interested in bashing Hillary and quickly changed the subject back to her. “Well, you know, you know you can debate this thing… I think we’re a little over-reading this. The fact of the matter is, is that, you know, the problem is and this gets back to, you can’t avoid the presidential race. You have Hillary Clinton out there saying – and I thought the piece y’all did last week was DEVASTATING.” He couldn’t have sounded more pleased.

Colmes said that Clinton had not contradicted herself on Iraq, that she has said she would not have voted for the war knowing what she knows now.

“Let me tell you something. It ain’t flying very well,” Caddell said.

Perhaps it was the frustration of having to defend Democrats to a “Democrat” that led Colmes to fire back, “With you!”

As the conversation moved on to anti-war resolutions in Congress, Novak and Caddell were unified in their contention that Democrats were acting “just for political purposes.” But Caddell was the more venomous. Novak called Congressman Murtha “a clown,” but Caddell said that Democrats have “the moral consistency of a doorknob.”

When it was Hannity’s turn again, he claimed that 60% of Americans “this week” (meaning, presumably, in a poll this week) want to “win the war.” However, I could find no such statistic. The latest FOX News poll (Questions 41 and 43) show a majority are against the troop surge and would not vote for it if they were in Congress. Hannity conveniently overlooked that statistic. A recent AP Ipsos poll shows a majority of Americans think the war in Iraq is hopeless.

Hannity claimed he wants Hillary to get the nomination. “I think she’s better for the Republicans.”

Novak agreed. “The guy they are scared of, believe me, is Obama.”

Once again, Caddell had nothing good to say about Obama, only scorn for Clinton. “You cannot run a campaign the way they’re doing, which is saying ‘Vote for me because I’m a woman,’ which is what they’re doing… This is ridiculous.”

Closing the discussion, Colmes said, “Keep tearing her down. Maybe you’ll help make Obama the nominee.”