CNN's Begala: Michael Moore & MoveOn 'In the Center,' Bush 'Betrayal'

On Monday's "The Situation Room," hosted by Wolf Blitzer, CNN's liberal political analyst/former Clinton advisor Paula Begala distorted Alan Greenspan's words about the Iraq war being about oil, and referred to the "most damning indictment and betrayal that Mr. Bush could have committed." Begala also commented that Greenspan's words show that Michael Moore and MoveOn.org "were in the center" on the issue of Iraq. Begala: "Alan Greenspan ain't the kook left. He ain't Michael Moore. He ain't MoveOn. In fact, he is a guy who now shows that Michael Moore, MoveOn, and the rest of them were in the center." (Transcript follows)

Near the end of the 4:00 hour of "The Situation Room," during a discussion with Begala and former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, Blitzer brought up Greenspan's words from the former Federal Reserve chairman's recently released book "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World." Blitzer: "Another controversial thing he writes in the book involves the war in Iraq. Listen to this, J.C. He says, Greenspan: 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.'"

After Watts responded, Blitzer turned to Begala: "If the President was hoping the price of oil would go down as the result of the liberation of Iraq, he obviously is wrong. It's now approaching $80 a barrel, twice what it was when the U.S. went into Iraq."

After seeming to give some acknowledgement of Michael Moore and MoveOn.org being in the "kook left," Begala argued that Greenspan's contention that the Iraq war is about oil proves that Moore and MoveOn.org "were in the center." Referring to his time co-hosting CNN's Crossfire, Begala contended: "I never once said that the Iraq war was about oil. I couldn't bring myself to imagine that or believe that. In fact, many times, I dismissed that view, saying, well, that's the kook left, not people like me who were closer to the center. Well, Alan Greenspan ain't the kook left. He ain't Michael Moore. He ain't MoveOn. In fact, he is a guy who now shows that Michael Moore, MoveOn, and the rest of them were in the center. By the way, MoveOn.org never said this was a war about oil, either."

Begala went on to accuse the President of "betrayal." Begala: "Alan Greenspan has known Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld probably longer and better than almost anybody. And, as you point out, with remarkable clarity, those seven words, he says the Iraq war was largely about oil. This is the most damning indictment and betrayal that Mr. Bush could have committed."

Watts and Blitzer then alluded to Greenspan's comments from Monday's "Today" show in which the former Federal Reserve chairman denied believing that President Bush chose to invade Iraq because of oil. NBC's Matt Lauer had said to Greenspan that liberal bloggers are "having a field day with this" and they are "saying here's a Republican saying the administration lied about the reason to go to war." Lauer asked, "Is that spin? Is that fair?"

Greenspan had responded: "It's utterly unfair. I was expressing my view. Saddam Hussein was obviously seeking to get a chokehold on the Straits of Hormuz, where about 18 million barrels a day, flow from the Middle East to the industrial world. Had he been able to get a hold of a nuclear weapon and indeed move through Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia and control the Straits of Hormuz it would have caused chaos in the international-"

Lauer jumped in: "So are we talking about semantics here, Alan? In other words the, the administration went to the war saying it was all about weapons of mass destruction-"

Greenspan: "I believe, I think, I believe that they believed that. I'm not saying that they believed it was about oil. I'm saying it is about oil and that I believe it was necessary to get Saddam out of there."

Back to Monday's "The Situation Room," Watts and Blitzer referred to Greenspan's clarification:

WATTS: Well, but the chairman, you know, he's a bit confusing because, again, today ... I read-

BLITZER: He's clarifying his remarks on the "Today" show this morning, and he's since suggesting it wasn't as blunt as the words he wrote in his book.

WATTS: Exactly, and usually, as chairman Barney Frank said, when people say, well, they misinterpreted what I said, they're usually meaning, "I wish I wouldn't have said that" because it wasn't a war about oil, but to say that oil didn't factor into it in terms of the world economy, the global economy, is just nonsense.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday September 17 "The Situation Room":

WOLF BLITZER: Another controversial thing he writes in the book involves the war in Iraq. Listen to this, J.C. He says, Greenspan: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

J.C. WATTS: Well, and I read today where the chairman was trying to explain himself, and he said that he said to the White House that this would affect the global economy because the price of oil obviously would go up, and people at home would be paying $5, $6 a gallon for fuel, and, Wolf, I think we're kidding ourselves and naive to think that oil didn't have, didn't play a role in it. I don't think the President made a decision to say we're going to go fight for oil, but I think, you know, that was kind of a subtext or kind of something that you had to factor into it because of what it would do to the world economy.

BLITZER: If the President was hoping the price of oil would go down as the result of the liberation of Iraq, he obviously is wrong. It's now approaching $80 a barrel, twice what it was when the U.S. went into Iraq.

PAUL BEGALA: But, of course, he was wrong about everything else going into this, but, you know, I talk a lot about how Bush was wrong. Apparently, and this is hard for me to say, it's not what I do for a living, apparently I was wrong, too. You know, I used to host that goofy show Crossfire, screaming and yelling, foaming at the mouth about how I didn't like Bush about anything, but I never once said that the Iraq war was about oil. I couldn't bring myself to imagine that or believe that. In fact, many times, I dismissed that view, saying, well, that's the kook left, not people like me who were closer to the center. Well, Alan Greenspan ain't the kook left. He ain't Michael Moore. He ain't MoveOn. In fact, he is a guy who now shows that Michael Moore, MoveOn, and the rest of them were in the center. By the way, MoveOn.org never said this was a war about oil, either. Alan Greenspan has known Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld probably longer and better than almost anybody. And, as you point out, with remarkable clarity, those seven words, he says the Iraq war was largely about oil. This is the most damning indictment and betrayal that Mr. Bush could have committed.

WATTS: Well, but the chairman, you know, he's a bit confusing because, again, today ... I read-

BLITZER: He's clarifying his remarks on the "Today" show this morning, and he's since suggesting it wasn't as blunt as the words he wrote in his book.

WATTS: Exactly, and usually, as chairman Barney Frank said, when people say, well, they misinterpreted what I said, they're usually meaning, "I wish I wouldn't have said that" because it wasn't a war about oil, but to say that oil didn't factor into it in terms of the world economy, the global economy, is just nonsense.