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"Pollster" Frank Luntz Abandons Pretense Of Neutrality

Reported by Ellen - May 22, 2008 -

FOX News trotted out Republican Frank Luntz, introduced merely as “pollster Frank Luntz,” to talk about “the words” that Barack Obama used when saying he'd like to hold talks with Iran. In reality, it was a transparent effort to bring on a seemingly-neutral expert who could be counted on to side against Obama. But Luntz was so artless at the artifice that it wasn't long before he was opining about foreign policy and demanding that Alan Colmes answer, “Would you have talked to Hitler? Yes or no?” With video.

Luntz made a nod to neutrality at the beginning by saying that like Obama, “The public wants diplomacy.” But he went on to make the dubious claim that, “90% of Americans actually see that Iran is a threat and among those, the vast majority believe that (Ahmadinejad) would absolutely use nuclear weapons at least against Israel, our most important ally, and so what Obama just said is absolutely opposed to what the vast majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, would support.”

My information shows that talking to Iran is exactly in line with what the majority of Americans support.

Colmes moved on by saying that President Ahmadinejad is not the man in control of Iran but a figurehead.

Luntz habitually turns nasty and condescending whenever Colmes makes a point he can't refute and last night was no exception. “Alan, Alan, Alan, you don't know that. This man was duly elected... Alan, don't dismiss it. I'm telling you, Obama is correct when it comes to the word diplomacy. But he is not correct in dealing with that man on the screen (Ahmadinejad). He is frightening. He is dangerous and if he were to get nuclear weapons, he's going to do damage.”

President Ahmadinejad may be dangerous but Colmes was absolutely correct about who holds the power in Iran. To quote from BBC News: “Presidential powers are circumscribed by the clerics and conservatives in Iran's power structure, and by the authority of the Supreme Leader. It is the Supreme Leader, not the president, who controls the armed forces and makes decisions on security, defence (sic) and major foreign policy issues. All presidential candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council, which banned hundreds of hopefuls from standing in the 2005 elections.”

Colmes again moved on, this time playing a clip of former Secretary of State (under Bush 41) James Baker saying, “Diplomacy involves talking to your enemies... Talking to an enemy is not, in my view, appeasement.”

“Was he wrong?” Colmes asked.

Yes, “pollster Luntz” responded. “The problem is, talk is cheap. And I'd ask you one other question, Alan. Would you have talked to Adolf Hitler? Yes or no.”

Colmes refused to be drawn into that argument and said he didn't buy the Hitler analogy. That prompted Luntz to become even more strident. “Just answer the question,” Luntz demanded.

“I just did,” Colmes answered.

At that point, Hannity broke in and Luntz, obviously annoyed at his inability to take over the host's job, threw open his hands.

Luntz went on to assist Hannity in preparing an effective attack ad against Obama. Then Luntz added, “This man frightens the United States because his words – you could replace ‘Hitler’ with those words – and I use that deliberately.”

Just before the music started, signaling the end of the segment, Luntz assured Hannity, “(Obama's) language (on foreign policy) is very problematic for him on this very issue.” .

Colmes chimed in, “It helps him because it's the opposite of Bush's foreign policy which is not sitting well with the American public.”

“But Alan,” Luntz said. “It sounds to me like you'd talk to Hitler.”

There was a kerfuffle over that, with Hannity joining in. With more than a trace of annoyance, Colmes said, “I don’t compare Iran, who has no expansionist powers, to what Hitler was doing.”

Luntz commanded, “You guys can go to a commercial. When you come back out, answer the question.”

Colmes said, “When you want to host the show, Frank, I'll be happy to answer your question.”