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Three Wars

Reported by Eleanor - September 8, 2004 -

On Special Report with Brit Hume (Sept. 8, 6:00 p.m.), Brit started the program with the observation that three wars are being fought during this campaign - a war for the White House, a war on Iraq, and the Viet Nam war. I totally agree.

The first twenty minutes reinforced the talking points heard earlier in the day. An attempt was made to neutralize Kerry's speech by spinning his message about the $200 billion spent in Iraq being better used for domestic issues - as Kerry trying to make Iraq nothing more than a money or domestic issue. Bush's National Guard non-duty or absence is positioned as a placement on "inactive ready" to go to Harvard graduate school, without mentioning the time frame for his schooling versus the missing months in his records. Damage control for the Ben Barnes appearance on 60 Minutes tonight was presented as Barnes said that no one in the Bush family asked him for help, and he's not sure who he'll vote for. Bush is shown in Florida helping the homeless, and we are reminded that Clinton, as an incumbent, accepted only two debates. Greenspan said the economy is "gaining traction." Talking points were covered except for the 1,000 dead in Iraq.

Robert Scales covered the 1,000 dead in Iraq issue with the military significance being that it causes us to look back, and look forward to see how we might want to prosecute the war in the future. The casualties are low compared to Viet Nam. Is keeping us safe at home a price we're willing to pay? Hume observed that some say Sadam Hussein was not a threat, and Scales replied that those people "haven't read their history." "Iraq is the center of gravity in the Middle East. Iran is surrounded. Anyone saying there weren't a lot of terrorists in Iraq before 2003 is a bit disingenuous. Building an Iraqi army from scratch will take time. If we leave, it's civil war or a takeover by the insurgents."

The grapevine segment: The White House is furious about the Pentagon's handling of Bush's National Guard service. Kitty Kelley is talking about Bush's use of cocaine and helping a girlfriend obtain an abortion. She was invited onto the Today show, but they didn't invite the Swift Boat vets. (And I'll bet Fox doesn't invite Kitty Kelley, although they talked to SB vets every hour on the hour and ran their ads free every time the issue was discussed with anyone.) Kerry accepted the gun he was offered, but backed legislation to bar that gun. Jimmy Carter told Zell Miller that he betrayed the trust of democrats, but Zell said he had been praised by Carter at other times. Log Cabin republicans, gays and lesbians, are not endorsing Bush.

The panel discussion was about "Kerry then and Kerry now." It's easy to guess what other panel members said, but Mara Liasson is amazingly ineffective as the lone democrat. On the issue of Kerry linking the war to domestic issues as a new position, Liasson stated that, actually, it's not so new. Early on, he used a firehouse analogy to express the same idea. The problem with Kerry is that he didn't oppose the war. The poll numbers for Bush were dropping, and now that's shifting, so now he's going back to that issue. (Kerry zinged again.) When presented with a Meet the Press interview where Kerry said we must increase the funding for Iraq with an exit strategy for victory, Liasson responded that he meant that other countries should foot that bill, not the U.S. (And? She didn't go far enough with the one good point she made.) On the Bush National Guard ad, Liasson said it was four years too late. The Gore campaign decided not to use it. This year Bush is being judged on his record of the last four years. Voters don't care. (Not true. Voters do care. A double standard if I ever heard one, and a grand opportunity missed to compare truth to lies.) When Jeff Birnbaum said that Bush is in for a rough week, and they do care, Liasson backtracked by saying it might have helped Kerry if the swift boat ads and the National Guard ads had been aired at the same time.

Comment: The panel discussion was very negative toward Kerry, and Liasson is either unable to think on her feet, or she is too concerned about her paycheck to present the democratic side. Actually, she 's a hindrance. She's totally lacking in any ability to create a balanced discussion. And she's up against three strong advocates for Bush. Hume's "three wars" have only one side on this program as long as Liasson is the only advocate for the other side.