Posts Tagged ‘Gibson’

Is Sarah Palin A Right-Wing Warmonger On A Holy Task From God?

September 12, 2008

I was rather amazed at the headlines about Sarah Palin coming from the Associated Press following her ABC interview with Charles Gibson:

In addition to it’s “God and war” bit, another AP story had the title, “Palin leaves open option of war with Russia.”

Somehow, when I watched the interview, I didn’t hear her threatened to bomb Russia.  In fact, she took nearly the identical position that Barack Obama has embraced: that Georgia should become a member of NATO – which would mean that other NATO countries would be obligated to come to her aid should she be attacked. (more…)

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Media Frenzy over ABC Democratic Debate Reveals Leftist Bias

April 20, 2008

This was the best panorama of media reaction to the ABC-hosted Democratic debate in Philadelphia:

The Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night was dominated by a wall of stupid painstakingly constructed by ABC’s moderators, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.

Their obsession with trivia and avoidance of substance submerged this affair from its opening introduction. It’s hard to say it much better than Washington Post critic Tom Shales who leads off by saying that “Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances,” and then proceeds to say what he really thinks.

And he’s not alone…

Tom Shales (Washington Post) – “For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.”

Will Bunch (Philadelphia Daily News) – “By so badly botching arguably the most critical debate of such an important election, in a time of both war and economic misery, you disgraced the American voters, and in fact even disgraced democracy itself.”

Greg Mitchell (Editor and Publisher) – “In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia.”

Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic) – “The loser was ABC News: one of the worst media performances I can remember – petty, shallow, process-obsessed, trivial where substantive, and utterly divorced from the actual issues that Americans want to talk about.”

Joanne Ostrow (Denver Post) – “Wednesday’s televised candidates’ debate from Philadelphia, tape delayed in Denver, got around to issues eventually. But the first round– devoted to pettiness and word obsession and gaffes– was more revealing.”

Joe Klein (Time) – “The ABC moderators clearly didn’t spend much time thinking about creative substantive gambits. They asked banal, lapidary questions, rather than trying to break new ground.”

Michael Grunwald (Time) – “At a time of foreign wars, economic collapse and environmental peril, the cringe-worthy first half of the debate focused on such crucial matters as Senator Obama’s comments about rural bitterness, his former pastor, an obscure sixties radical with whom he was allegedly “friendly,” and the burning constitutional question of why he doesn’t wear an American flag pin on his lapel.”

Richard Adams (The Guardian) – “A stinker, an absolute car crash – thanks to the host network ABC. It was worse than even those debates last year with 18 candidates on stage, including crazy old Mike Gravel.”

Noam Scheiber (New Republic) – “The first half of the debate felt like a 45-minute negative ad, reprising the most chewed over anti-Obama allegations (bittergate, Jeremiah Wright, patriotism) and even some relatively obscure ones (his vague association with former Weatherman radical Bill Ayers).”

Daniel Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer) – “We’ve revisted bitter. We’ve gone back to Bosnia. We’ve dragged Rev. Wright back up onto the podium. We’ve mis-spent this debate by allowing Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions that skirt what in my mind is what we need to know now. What would they do about the mess they’d inherit? The war. Health care. The economy. Stupid.”

Cathleen Decker and Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) – With the moderators and Clinton raising assorted questions about Obama’s past for the first half of the debate, issues received relatively short shrift. Not until 50 minutes in was a policy issue — Iraq — asked about by the moderators. More than an hour went by before a question was asked about what Stephanopoulos called “the No. 1 issue on Americans’ minds” — the economy.”

Stephanoupolos defended himself by saying that voters are concerned with “…experience, character [and] credibility. You can’t find a presidential election where those issues didn’t come into play.”

The problem is that you can’t find a but a trace of questions in this debate where those issues did come into play. The moderators had obviously decided that they were going to chase petty controversy and ratings by focusing on tabloid trivialities. Their cynical smugness and conceit are a sad commentary on the state of journalism and politics.

MoveOn has started a petition to ask the media to “stop hurting the national dialogue in this important election year.”
http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=866

My favorite, in terms of being a pure, unadulterated, over-the-top, self-righteous indignate hissy-fit, was Will Bunch’s “An Open Letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanapoulos.”
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041708B.shtml. You can almost feel the tears striking the keyboard as you read it.

A paraphrase from Shakespeare always goes a long way: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

If Will Bunch had become as livid when John McCain’s character was needlessly assaulted by the New York Times on the flimsiest of stories (notice how that whole female lobbyist story went away?), and had he similarly become this angry when President Bush was assaulted with charges of dodging service in the Vietnam War – complete with forged documents waved by CBS’ Dan Rather as proof of the crime – maybe I’d buy the “righteous” part of Bunch’s indignation.

But I’m afraid I smell the rabid rodent of liberal media bias.

I remember the craziness that followed CBS’ Bernard Goldberg’s 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

As Goldberg related what happened in his book “Bias,” he received an angry phone call from a friend who had just watched the 8 February 1996 CBS EVening News. “Did you see that ‘Reality Check’ story? You got too many snippy wise guys doin’ the news.”

Goldberg asked his friend what the problem was. “You get a tape of the news and watch it. Then you tell me if there’s a problem.”

When Goldberg watched the news, he was shocked. Ostensibly, it was a story about presidential candidate Steve Forbes’ flat tax. In Goldberg’s own words, “But the more I watched the more I saw that this wasn’t simply about a presidential candidate and a tax plan. It was about something much bigger, something too much of big-time TV journalism had become: a showcase of smart-ass reporters with attitudes, reporters who don’t even pretend to hide their disdain for certain people and certain ideas that they and their sophisticated friends don’t particularly like.

I begin quoting Goldberg’s book Bias from page 21:

“Dan Rather introduced [CBS Washington correspondent Eric] Engberg’s piece with the standard stuff about how it would “look beyond the promises to the substance” of the Forbes flat tax…

Engberg’s voice covered pictures of Steve Forbes on the campaign trail. “Steve Forbes pitches his flat-tax scheme as an economic elixer, good for everything that ails us.”

Scheme? Elixer? What the hell kind of language is that, I [Goldberg] wondered. These were words that conjured up images of con artists, like Doctor Feelgood selling worthless junk out of the back of his wagon.

But that was just a little tease to get us into the tent. then Engberg interviewed three different tax experts. Every single one of them opposed the flat tax. Every single one! Where was the fairness and balance Rather was always preaching about? Wasn’t there any expert – even one – in the entire United States who thought the flat tax might work?

Of course there was. There was Milton Friedman and Merton Miller, both of the University of Chicago and both Nobel Prize winners in economics. There was James Buchanan of George Mason University, another Nobel laureate. There were also Harvey Rosen of Princeton, William Poole of Brown, and Robert Barro of Harvard. All of them were on the record as supporting the flat tax to one degree or another.

Engberg could have found a bunch of economists to support the flat tax, if he wanted to. But putting on a supporter of the flat tax would have defeated the whole purpose of the piece, which was to have a few laughs at Steve Forbes’ expense.

There was absolutely no way – not one chance in a million – that Engberg or Rather would have aired a flat-tax story with that same contemptuous tone if Teddy Kennedy or Hillary Clinton had come up with the idea.

But even if you opposed the flat tax, even if you thought it was a bad idea that helped only the wealthiest Americans – fat cats like Steve Forbes himself – what about simple journalistic fairness? What about presenting two sides? isn’t that what Rather was always saying CBS News was about: objectivity, fairness, balance?

And then Engberg crossed that fuzzy line that’s supposed to separate news from entertainment. He decided it was time to amuse his audience…

Which is why Eric Engberg decided to play David Letterman and do a takeoff of his Top Ten list.

“Forbes’ Number One Wackiest Flat-Tax Promise,” Engberg told the audience, is the candidate’s belief that it would give parents “more time to spend with their children and each other.”

Wacky? This was a perfectly acceptable word in the United States of Entertainment to describe, say, a Three Stooges movie. Or Hamlet, starring Jerry Lewis. Or My Fair Lady, with Chris Rock playing Professor Higgins.

But “wacky” seemed an odd word to describe a serious idea to overhaul America’s ten-trillion page tax code that enables lobbyists to donate tons of money to politicians who then use this same Byzantine tax code to hand out goodies to the very same special interests that just gave them all that money. If anything is “wacky,” it’s the current tax system, not an honest attempt to replace it with something new.

Besides, what Forbes meant is that since many Americans – not just the wealthy – would pay less tax under his plan, they might not have to work as many hours and might actually have more time to spend at home with their families. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t, but is “wacky” the fairest and most objective way to describe it?

Can you imagine, in your wildest dreams, a network news reporter calling Hillary Clinton’s health care plan “wacky”? Can you imagine Dan Rather or any other major American news anchorman allowing it?

And, finally, the coup de grace, the knife to Steve Forbes’ throat as Engberg went on camera to end his story. The “on camera,” as we call it in the TV news business, is when the reporter gets to look the viewer in the eye and deliver a sermonette. This is when the reporter, if he hasn’t been slanting the news story up to this point, will often give you a little editorial just to make sure you know how you’re supposed to think about the subject at hand. Eric Engberg ended his little vaudeville act thus: “The fact remains: The flat tax is a giant, untested theory. One economist suggested, before we put it in, we should test it out someplace – like Albania.” Engberg flashed his signature smirk and signed off – “Eric Engberg, CBS News, Washington.”

There is junk science and junk bonds. This was junk journalism.

Goldberg continued…

“…The left routinely uses words like “scheme” instead of the more neutral “plan” to describe tax cuts that favor “the wrong people.” Sometimes they put the word “risky” before “scheme” to make it sound really scary. Al Gore did precisely that, about a hundred times a day, when he was running for president against George W. Bush. I understand why Al Gore and other liberals call something they don’t like a “scheme.” Politicians and partisans are allowed to do that. But should supposedly objective people like news reports, people like Eric Engberg, use that kind of loaded language? Should a journalistic enterprise like CBS News – which claims to stand for fairness and objectivity – allow words like “scheme” and “wacky” in what is supposed to be a straight news story about a legitimate candidate running for president of the United States?

Engberg’s piece – its strident, mocking tone, its lack of objectivity, its purposeful omission of anyone who supported the flat tax – was like a TV commercial paid for by Opponents of the Steve Forbes Flat Tax.

From top to bottom the Engberg piece was breathtaking in its lack of fairness. So how could CBS have put it on the air?

Bernard Goldberg tried to talk to a number of executives at CBS before finally deciding to write his now famous op-ed. As he put it, “The way I saw it, I wasn’t taking on Engberg or Rather or CBS News for airing one snooty story about some politician’s tax plan. For me, this was about a nagging problem that none of the big shots would take seriously. It was about the liberal biases that overwhelm straight news reporting.”

Goldberg points out that “Jerry Kelly from Enterprise, Alabama [the friend who’d told Goldberg about the story] spotted the bias in the Engberg report. Jerry Kelly spotted the wise guy tone and the one-sidedness. And Jerry Kelly is a general building contractor, not a newsman.

Who didn’t find anything wrong with Engberg’s piece? First off, Engberg didn’t. His producer in Washington didn’t. The Evening News senior producer in Washington didn’t. Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the CBS Evening News in New York, didn’t. His team of senior producers in New York didn’t. Andrew Heyward, the CBS News president and Harvard Phi Beta Kappa, didn’t. And finally, Dan Rather, the anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, didn’t.

Not one of them spotted anything wrong with a story that no one should have let on the air in the first place” (29).

Had the story remained at this point, it would have at best remained a single sorry episode of bias. One story among thousands. But Goldberg – after trying in vain to get somebody, anybody, to focus on a very real problem – got his dander up and decided to take the initiative and go outside of his network to expose this incredibly blatant case of bias and thus focus attention on a national issue that went far beyond CBS.

So Goldberg wrote his op-ed piece: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=95001668

The resulting media firestorm over a senior award-winning network news journalist writing about bias in the media was enormous – and nearly universally painted Bernard Goldberg in a negative light. Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings joined Dan Rather in attacking Goldberg. A lot of media power-players dialed a lot of numbers from their media roledexes and got a lot of airtime and ink condemning Golderg’s character and integrity as well as his objectivity. Rather than seriously examining the facts of Goldberg’s case, the focus quickly became Bernard Goldberg himself.

“Bob Schieffer, the chief Washington correspondent for CBS News, told the Washington Post, “It’s just such a wacky charge, and a weird way to go about it… I don’t know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds bizarre” (39).

Wacky. Weird. Bizarre. There were those words again.

Dan Rather – who would, in 2004, show America just what it looked like to REALLY be a political hack, labeled Goldberg “a political opportunist” (36). In another interview, Rather claimed Goldberg was trying to intimidate him into reporting the news his way (38). It was pure, over-the-top paranoia.

Andrew Heyward, the president of ABC News, told Goldberg that writing his op-ed amounted to “an act of disloyalty” and “a betrayal of trust.” And when Goldberg pointed out that he could have quoted Heyward himself to have essentially agreed with him that the news was biased, Heyward screamed in his face, “That would have been like raping my wife and kidnapping my kids!

Which is why I read all these over-the-top media rants I listed above and think, “Yep. I’ve heard this before.”

One of The New York Times’ heaviest hitters, veteran political analyst R.W. “Johnny” Apple, said on CNN’s Reliable Sources, “He [Goldberg] has simply stabbed this guy [Engberg] in the back” (41).

Goldberg points out that “whistleblowers” are always sacred cows for news organizations – unless they’re trying to expose the news media. Then they get downright mean. He pointed out that the media – unlike any other enterprise, looks into everyone else’s business for a living, and that therefore it is entirely reasonable and necessary that they permit an examination of themselves (and in fact blatantly hypocritical NOT to permit an examination of themselves). But they won’t. Goldberg writes, “Liberals in the media – who would have come down with the vapors if a conservative CEO had so much as given a reporter a dirty look – didn’t flinch when CBS News executives took me off the air and suggested I might be fired because they saw me as a whistle-blower, which, the bst I could figure, made me the first whistle-blower in history who wasn’t turned into a national hero by the media.”

The way the media circled the wagons, the way they ganged up on Goldberg and did everything they could to trivialize his revelation by turning away from his substance to personal attacks displayed just how radically biased the media was.

And still is.

Also in 1996, the Freedom Forum and the Roper Center released the results of a now famous survey of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents (the epicenter of the media world – the heartbeat of journalism, if you will. Both the Freedom Forum and thand Roper Center had attained a solid reputation for independence. “No way that the data are the fruit of right-wing press bashers,” as journalist Ben Wattenberg put it. The results were stunning.

* 89% of these significant journalist said they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, compared with just 43% of nonjournalist voters.

7% of the journalists voted for George H.W. Bush, as opposed to 37% of the general electorate.

* 50% said they were Democrats. Only 4% said they were Republicans.

* When asked to characterize their political orientation, 61% said “liberal” or “moderate to liberal.” Only 9% said they were “conservative” or “moderate to conservative.”

As Goldberg puts it, “89% voted for Bill Clinton. This is incredible when you think about it. There’s hardly a candidate in the entire United States of America who carries his/her district with 89% of the vote. This is way beyond mere landslide numbers. The only politicians who get numbers like that are called Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein.” … The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn said “The Washington press corps is not some monolith… We all work for different organizations. We all think differently.” [But] “The same journalists that Sally Quinn tell us do not constitute a “monolith” certainly vote like one” (129).

And the 1992 election was no fluke. A 1972 poll showed that of those reporters who voted, 70% went for McGovern, the most liberal presidential candidate in memory, while 25% voted for Nixon – in a landslide year when Richard Nixon carried every single state in the country except Massachusetts.

In 1985 the Los Angeles Times conducted a nationwide survey of about 3,000 journalists and the same number of people in the general public to see how each group felt about the major issues of the day:

* 23% of the public said they were liberal; 55% of journalists described themselves as liberal.
* 56% of the public favored Ronald Reagan; 30% of the journalists favored Reagan.
*49% of the public was for a woman’s right to have an abortion; 82% of the journalists was for such a right of a woman to choose abortion.
* 74% of the public was for prayer in the public schools; 25% of the journalists were in favor of prayer in public schools.
* 56% of the public was for affirmative action; 81% of the journalists were in favor of affirmative action.
* 75% of the public was for the death penalty; 47% of the journalists were in favor of the death penalty.
* 50% of the public was for stricter gun control; 78% of the journalists were for stricter gun control.

More recently, Fox News’ Britt Hume ran a story titled “Cash Coverage.” I will quote Britt Hume’s report, but provide the link to John Lott’s 31 March 2008 article itself:

“University of Maryland senior research scientist John Lott Jr. says news coverage of the economy is slanted. Lott writes, “Over 78 percent more negative news stories discussed a recession when the economy — under a Republican president was soaring than occurred under a Democrat when the economy was shrinking.”

Lott — who researched 12,500 newspaper and wire service articles from 1985 through 2004 — also found that Democratic presidents got positive headlines 15 percent more of the time than Republican presidents for the same economic news.

Of his findings Lott writes, “The media’s focus on the negative side of everything surely helps explain people’s pessimism… Indeed, research has indicated that media bias is real.”
http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/FoxNewsRecessionMyth033108.html

Yesterday, I got in an argument with a man I know who works at Wal Mart. He claimed that the economy is far worse than it ever was under Clinton. I pointed out that this is simply not true. He claimed that its harder to find a job than ever before. Today (April 19) I can point to a Press Enterprise story (titled “Area trims more jobs”) by Josh Brown that at 7.1% unemployment, the Inland California region is suffering its worst jobless rate since… July 1995, when Bill Clinton was president. But due to biased coverage, no one seems to be able to remember that.

Indeed, a study of the unemplyment rate (http://www.miseryindex.us/urbymonth.asp) through October 2007 shows that – Despite inheriting a Recession from the Clinton Administration (http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/3/20/190717.shtml), being forced to manage through a series of corporate scandals with roots in the Clinton years, and having to recover from the 9-11 attacks that crippled the US economy, the average monthly unemployment rate during the Bush years now bests the Clinton years: 5.2049 to 5.2052.

Here’s a quote from Professor John Lott’s article:

“Indeed, research has indicated that media bias is real. Kevin Hassett and I looked at 12,620 newspaper and wire service headlines from 1985 through 2004 for stories on the release of official government releasing numbers on the unemployment rate, number of people employed, gross domestic product (GDP), retail sales, and durable goods.

Even after accounting for how well the economy was doing (e.g., what the unemployment rate was and whether it was going up or down), there was still a big difference in how positive or negative the headlines were. Democratic presidents got about 15 percentage points more positive headlines than Republicans for the same economic news.”

Here are links to recent, significant studies that show that the media continues to trend way over to the left of the general public. The first study comes from the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the second comes from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:
http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/homeland.php?id=376809&PHPSESSID=9f062c3b00054dddd759712c55999870

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2008/03/19/four-times-more-journalists-identify-liberal-conservative

James Glassman once put it this way on the Washington Post. “The people who report the stories are liberal Democrats. This is the shameful open secret of American journalism. That the press itself … choses to gloss over it is conclusive evidence of how pernicious the bias is.”

So I look at the media’s reaction to the tough questions directed at Hillary Clinton and (mostly) at Barack Obama, and I understand the plainly visceral reaction against the questions by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.

I remember that it took a Saturday Night Live sketch – set in a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – that displayed for all the world to see a caricaturization of the gross, one-sided, nearly adoring coverage that the media gave to Barack Obama in lopsided manner. Hillary Clinton, in the ones of one editorialist, was learning what it was like to be treated like a Republican.

Whether the media goes after every political candidate’s “negatives,” or whether they refuse to go after any candidate’s “negatives,” I really don’t care. What I do care about is that they are objective and fair in their coverage. What I have bee seeing since the Democratic debate in Philidelphia, is what appears to be a media campaign of a screaming, ranting, crying frenzy being directed over negative questions being raised against Barack Obama in an effort to stifle any future questions that reflect poorly on him.

In my view, Gibson and Stephanopoulos recognized that the media was simply not going after the Democratic candidates (Obama especially) on the campaign trail, and forcing them to answer tough, legitimate questions. Thus the Wright scandal, the “bitter… clinging” remark, the “flag pin” (and, by the way, the picture that shows every Democratic candidate with hand over heart except Barack Obama, whose hands are clasped at his groin-level), and the “Bosnia sniper fire” were all fair game for an objectively fair debate.

Some Bernard Goldberg article references:

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/12/3/215106.shtml

http://www.cfif.org/htdocs/freedomline/current/in_our_opinion/bernard_goldberg.htm

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=95000520

Democratic Debate: Promising Armageddon

April 18, 2008

As a conservative, I obviously found difficulties in a number of issues and statements raised in the Democratic debate last night (April 16). But the candidates response to the issue of the war in Iraq – particularly framed as it was against the even greater issues of a looming nuclear Iran and the threat of a nuclear arms race in the most violent, terrifying, and paranoid region in the world – was downright disturbing.

As I listened to the Democratic candidates, I had a dizzying moment of “deja vu all over again” as I recalled the historic lessons of the disasterous liberal failures that enabled World War II. And I could not help but remember the biblical narratives prohecying that total future apocalypse commonly known as “armageddon.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/us/politics/16text-debate.html?pagewanted=13.

MANDY GARBER of Pittsburgh asked the following question: “So, the real question is, I mean, do the candidates have a real plan to get us out of Iraq or is it just real campaign propaganda? And you know, it’s really unclear. They keep saying we want to bring the troops back, but considering what’s happening on the ground, how is that going to happen?

CHARLES GIBSON followed up: “Let me just add a little bit to that question, because your communications director in your campaign, Howard Wolfson on a conference call recently was asked, “Is Senator Clinton going to stick to her announced plan of bringing one or two brigades out of Iraq every month whatever the realities on the ground?” And Wolfson said, “I’m giving you a one-word answer so we can be clear about it, the answer is yes.”

So if the military commanders in Iraq came to you on day one and said this kind of withdrawal would destabilize Iraq, it would set back all of the gains that we have made, no matter what, you’re going to order those troops to come home?

SENATOR CLINTON replied: “Yes, I am, Charlie. And here’s why: You know, thankfully we have a system in our country of civilian control of the military. And our professional military are the best in the world. They give their best advice and then they execute the policies of the president. I have watched this president as he has continued to change the rationale and move the goalposts when it comes to Iraq.

And I am convinced that it is in America’s best interest, it is in the best interest of our military, and I even believe it is in the best interest of Iraq, that upon taking office, I will ask the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisers to immediately put together for me a plan so that I can begin to withdraw within 60 days. I will make it very clear that we will do so in a responsible and careful manner, because obviously, withdrawing troops and equipment is dangerous.

I will also make it clear to the Iraqis that they no longer have a blank check from the president of the United States, because I believe that it will be only through our commitment to withdraw that the Iraqis will begin to do what they have failed to do for all of these years.

I will also begin an intensive diplomatic effort, both within the region and internationally, to begin to try to get other countries to understand the stakes that we all face when it comes to the future of Iraq.

But I have been convinced and very clear that I will begin to withdraw troops within 60 days. And we’ve had other instances in our history where some military commanders have been very publicly opposed to what a president was proposing to do.

But I think it’s important that this decision be made, and I intend to make it.”

CHARLES GIBSON addressed Senator Obama with the same question: “And Senator Obama, your campaign manager, David Plouffe, said, when he is — this is talking about you — when he is elected president, we will be out of Iraq in 16 months at the most; there should be no confusion about that.

So you’d give the same rock-hard pledge, that no matter what the military commanders said, you would give the order: Bring them home.

SENATOR OBAMA: “Because the commander in chief sets the mission, Charlie. That’s not the role of the generals. And one of the things that’s been interesting about the president’s approach lately has been to say, well, I’m just taking cues from General Petraeus.

Well, the president sets the mission. The general and our troops carry out that mission. And unfortunately we have had a bad mission, set by our civilian leadership, which our military has performed brilliantly. But it is time for us to set a strategy that is going to make the American people safer.

Now, I will always listen to our commanders on the ground with respect to tactics. Once I’ve given them a new mission, that we are going to proceed deliberately in an orderly fashion out of Iraq and we are going to have our combat troops out, we will not have permanent bases there, once I’ve provided that mission, if they come to me and want to adjust tactics, then I will certainly take their recommendations into consideration; but ultimately the buck stops with me as the commander in chief.

And what I have to look at is not just the situation in Iraq, but the fact that we continue to see al Qaeda getting stronger in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, we continue to see anti-American sentiment fanned all cross the Middle East, we are overstretched in a way — we do not have a strategic reserve at this point. If there was another crisis that was taking place, we would not have a brigade that we could send to deal with that crisis that isn’t already scheduled to be deployed in Iraq. That is not sustainable. That’s not smart national security policy, and it’s going to change when I’m president.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS then turned attention to the issue of Iran and the threat it represented to the region: “Senator Obama, let’s stay in the region. Iran continues to pursue a nuclear option. Those weapons, if they got them, would probably pose the greatest threat to Israel. During the Cold War, it was the United States policy to extend deterrence to our NATO allies. An attack on Great Britain would be treated as if it were an attack on the United States. Should it be U.S. policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States?

SENATOR OBAMA responded: Well, our first step should be to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranians, and that has to be one of our top priorities. And I will make it one of our top priorities when I’m president of the United States.

I have said I will do whatever is required to prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons. I believe that that includes direct talks with the Iranians where we are laying out very clearly for them, here are the issues that we find unacceptable, not only development of nuclear weapons but also funding terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as their anti-Israel rhetoric and threats towards Israel. I believe that we can offer them carrots and sticks, but we’ve got to directly engage and make absolutely clear to them what our posture is.

Now, my belief is that they should also know that I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons, and that would include any threats directed at Israel or any of our allies in the region.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “So you would extend our deterrent to Israel?

SENATOR OBAMA: “As I’ve said before, I think it is very important that Iran understands that an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, one that we — one whose security we consider paramount, and that — that would be an act of aggression that we — that I would — that I would consider an attack that is unacceptable, and the United States would take appropriate action.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “Senator Clinton, would you?

SENATOR CLINTON: “Well, in fact, George, I think that we should be looking to create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel. Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States, but I would do the same with other countries in the region.

You know, we are at a very dangerous point with Iran. The Bush policy has failed. Iran has not been deterred. They continue to try to not only obtain the fissile material for nuclear weapons but they are intent upon and using their efforts to intimidate the region and to have their way when it comes to the support of terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere.

And I think that this is an opportunity, with skillful diplomacy, for the United States to go to the region and enlist the region in a security agreement vis-a-vis Iran. It would give us three tools we don’t now have.

Number one, we’ve got to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran, and we want the region and the world to understand how serious we are about it. And I would begin those discussions at a low level. I certainly would not meet with Ahmadinejad, because even again today he made light of 9/11 and said he’s not even sure it happened and that people actually died. He’s not someone who would have an opportunity to meet with me in the White House. But I would have a diplomatic process that would engage him.

And secondly, we’ve got to deter other countries from feeling that they have to acquire nuclear weapons. You can’t go to the Saudis or the Kuwaitis or UAE and others who have a legitimate concern about Iran and say: Well, don’t acquire these weapons to defend yourself unless you’re also willing to say we will provide a deterrent backup and we will let the Iranians know that, yes, an attack on Israel would trigger massive retaliation, but so would an attack on those countries that are willing to go under this security umbrella and forswear their own nuclear ambitions.”

Now, I am glad that both candidates want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, want to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, and want to promise to protect our allies in the region. I believe these are all very good things.

But I want to focus attention on the fact that withdrawing from Iraq will actually have the very opposite effects from these goals, and will virtually guarantee that none of these goals would be attainable. If the United States abandons Iraq, it will put us on a trajectory toward disaster.

In an earlier article, I attempted to draw some of the parallels between our abandonment of Vietnam between 1973 and 1975, with what would almost certainly happen were we to similarly abandon Iraq. In short, the United States pulled its forces out due to domestic protest after it had painstakingly attained a stable military situation. The 1968 Tet offensive had been a military disaster for the Communist North, and the Viet Cong guerrillas had been annihilated in the American counteroffensive. But the domestic protests, and the scandal that undermined the Nixon presidency, forced the United States to negotiate with the North. Nixon claimed a “Peace with honor,” but the Democratic-controlled Congress refused to honor the American commitment to South Vietnam. Military aid ceased; funds were cut off. And when North Vietnamese tanks rolled on Saigon, the Republic of South Vietnam had nothing to stop them with. A bloodbath of massive proportions followed that spread from Vietnam to Cambodia to Laos. Three million died after the war, and untold numbers of refugee “boat people” perished at sea.

American prestige was terribly undermined as our enemies realized we truly could be defeated, and our allies realized that we would not necessarily keep our promises. The United States soon withdrew its commitments elsewhere, including its backing of the Shah of Iran, who had been the closest American ally in the region. To this very day, our enemies believe that the United States can not stand a prolonged war with casualties, and that we will withdraw – “cut and run” – from our allies and our interests if they can pile up enough bodies.

I think about these things. And I greatly mourn that we may very well be in the process of repeating our same mistakes in nearly exactly the same manner. Only this time the stakes are much, much higher, and the disaster that will surely follow will be much, much worse.

As a student of history, I remember the abject failure of the Western allies to grasp the growing threat of their enemies throughout the 1930s. I remember the refusal of the liberal governments of the Allied powers to comprehend what are now known to have been fundamental realities of naked aggression and looming war. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain abandoned his country’s commitment to Czechoslovakia with a promise from Hitler of peace. The liberal, “anti-war” Chamberlain returned home saying, “I believe it is peace in our time!” Chamberlain saw Britain’s policy as a willingness to compromise and a desire for peace. But Hitler saw only weakness, hesitation, and cowardice, and became emboldened for total war. Again and again, the West had had an opportunity to demonstrate its genuine resolve to Hitler, and again and again the West had failed to stand.

In our present day, the Democratic Party has demonstrated a shocking degree of treachery in regard to Iraq. It is their war as much as it is Republicans’ war – because it should be America’s war.

In his 1998 State of the Union Address before the United States Congress, President Clinton told the world, “I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot deny the will of the world. You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.” A week later, President Clinton said, “I will say again, one way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”

On 31 October 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law, saying, “It should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace the regime.”

After the horror of the 9/11 attacks, the full horror of Islamic terrorists murderous intent was nakedly revealed to a shocked United States. Military and civilian national security authorities alike immediately realized that the attacks would have been far, far worse if the terrorists had been able to obtain WMD capability. And they knew that major terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda were determined to obtain WMD.

President Bush confronted Saddam Hussein over his country’s weapons program, but the Iraqi dictator refused to give the United States a clear picture of his capability. The United States Senate voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq in 2002; the United States House of Representatives approved the resolution, 296-133. The vote wasn’t even close. The resolution actually passed by wider margins than the 1991 resolution that had empowered President George H.W. Bush to go to war to expel Iraq from Kuwait. That 1991 measure passed 250-183 in the House and 52-47 in the Senate. Furthermore, a clear majority of Democrats in the Senate supported the October 2002 war resolution: 29 Democratic Senators voted “aye” and only 21 “nay.”

On 17 March 2003, Senator Hillary Clinton said on the eve of war, “Tonight, the President gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war, and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly. While we wish there were more international support for the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, at this critical juncture it is important for all of us to come together in support of our troops and pray that, if war does occur, this mission is accomplished swiftly and decisively with minimum loss of life and civilian casualties.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on 15 December 2003 after celebrating the capture of Saddam Hussein, she declared, “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote” and was one that “I stand by.” The speech she gave that evening is noteworthy given the abject treachery she would come to show in repudiating everything she said that evening.
http://www.cfr.org/publication/6600/remarks_by_senator_hillary_rodham_clinton_transcript.html

Democrats can’t just walk away from a commitment to a war that this nation elected to undertake, can they? But that is exactly what they did. To paraphrase the famous John Kerry flip flop of his failed 2004 presidential campaign, “I voted for that war before I voted against it.” We were at war, but the Democrats turned and ran on Republicans the moment the fighting got fierce. And for simple political opportunism they have spent the five years since talking about Republican war-mongering rather than their own moral cowardice.

UPI reported on story titled, “Negative U.S. media linked to increased insurgent attacks.” The article begins: “Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a measurable “emboldenment effect” on insurgents there. ‘We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases,’ says the study, published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading U.S. nonprofit economic research organization.”
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080324/FOREIGN/259963993/1003

Can anyone believe that when major Democrats say things such as, “The war is lost” (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) that this doesn’t embolden our enemies to stay in the fight?

Somehow, both Democratic presidential candidates as well as the very nearly the entire Democratic political apparatus believes that they have absolutely no responsibility for the war, or to the people of Iraq. They believe they can simply blame it all on Bush and the Republicans and count on an ignorant and increasingly amoral America to go along with their revision of history.

But when they abandon the commitment to Iraq that better and more honorable Americans made to that country, they will be undermining the future of America.

Democrats will be mouthing the mantra, “I believe it is peace in our time!” Even as they set the stage for total Armageddon. Iran – just as Nazi Germany – will see what the Democrats view as high-minded liberal foreign policy as weakness, hesitation, and cowardice. And the next Democratic president will either see that Armageddon arise during his/her own administration, or else he or she will set it up for the next presidential administration just as Jimmy Carter set up the modern state of Iran by betraying the Shah and enabling the Ayatollahs to take over in his stead.

Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama agreed that we must not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But how will the Democrats – who now universally and roundly condemn President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq without total proof of WMD when he had used WMD repeatedly on his enemies – arrive at the threshhold of certainty? The fact is, we can never be certain what is going on iside a totalitarian state such as Iran (or Iraq). Further, when the Democrats have spent the last five years proclaiming that the war in Iraq was a mistake, how are they now going to be able to say with a straight face, “And we’re willing to make the same mistake with you” to Iran?

Iran will know that 1) all they have to do is continue to develop their nukes in some degree of murkiness, because Democrats can’t go in unless they are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN Iran has such weapons. So we won’t ever be able to go in there under a Democratic administration. And 2) Iran will know that even if Democrats DID go in (Which they won’t!), they wouldn’t stay the course if the fighting got tough (which it most certainly would). All Iran has to do is keep piling up bodies – even if its just the bodies of their own – and Democrats will turn and run. It is what they do. More than anything else in our generation, cutting and running defines the Democratic Party.

Clinton and Obama also let it be known that Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt will trust them when they pledge to defend them from Iran, making their own nuclear programs unneccessary. The problem of a nuclear Iran goes beyond a nuclear Iran: it creates an imbalance of power that will force Sunni nations such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt to develop their own nuclear programs to balance the Shiite Iranians. Think of a nuclear arms race going on in the most radical, terrifying, murderous, and paranoid region in the world. And Sunnis – who we know DON’T get along real well with Shiites, will trust the United States to stick by them through thick and thin? Yeah, right; the Democrats who have spent five years vowing to cut and run from staying in Iraq will now stand by their word to help you, Saudi Arabia and Egypt? (“But we really mean it this time!”).

Allow me to guarantee you that a Democratic administration will see a nuclear Iran. Given their policy on Iraq, it becomes an implicit campaign promise. And it will see a nuclearized Middle East. Democrats have spent forty years proving that they are cowards who will not stand by their allies, and their actions will come home to roost.

A Republican president can say to the Iranians, “We went in to Iran when we thought they might attack us, Iran. And I promise that will do the same to you if you continue your weapons program.” And no one can question that. A Republican president can say to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, “We stayed with Iraq and defended them even when it was difficult, and we’ll do the same for you.” and no one can question that.