Anderson Cooper sounded more like a political pundit than an objective journalist during a discussion with Time columnist Joe Klein on March 17 on the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Cooper expressed outrage that "none of us have been asked to sacrifice" during this time of war, while Klein asked, "why aren't we collecting clothing for the children of Iraq," even though there are numerous organizations and programs established to do just that.
First, though, Cooper set up Klein to take this shot at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:
Anderson Cooper: "I mean, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, there’s a lot of people who’ve been calling for his head, and you’ve talked to a lot of people in the Pentagon who are surprised he’s still there. But he looks like he’s–there’s no sign of him going."
Joe Klein: "Rumsfeld ran the most criminally incompetent military campaign, you know, in, in, in the last 100 years, perhaps in American history."
Klein's view on Rumsfeld's handling of the war is, at best, a dramatic overstatement. There is a legitimate argument that mistakes have been made strategically in Iraq. However, to call the war the most "criminally incompetent military campaign" is a reflection of Klein’s short term memory. In Iraq, the dictator of a brutal regime was toppled and is currently on trial for crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the Vietnam war, where a U.S. pullout led to the Communist takeover of South Vietnam.
Later in the discussion, Cooper seemed to pine for the days of shortages and rationing when he accepted Joe Klein's argument that the Bush administration is not taking the war seriously, and stated that, unlike the World War II era, it doesn’t "feel" like there’s a war going on.
Cooper: "I mean, you travel around the country and you don’t feel that there is a war going on. And I, it’s not, it’s not just this administration. It’s every, it’s all of us. I mean, it doesn’t feel–"
Cooper: "None of us have been asked to sacrifice, really. None of us. There is not a sense of–"
Klein: "And that–"
Cooper: "–as you had in other wars, probably in World War II, of, of the nation being at war."
This remark led Klein to argue essentially that the country is not doing enough to contribute to the war effort. This was too much for Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens, also part of the discussion, who called Klein out on his assessment:
Klein: " People say to me, we went to war, the country went to the mall. And, you know, I, I talk to one guy whose mother said, you know, during World War II, we had clothing drives. We had aluminum drives. Why aren’t we collecting clothing for the children of Iraq? Why hasn’t the President called all of us together?"
Hitchens: "Well, why aren’t they doing it, then? Look, nothing’s stopping them doing that. They can, they can contact a, a lot of, of people, including people I know, who are dying to have people try and help."
Hitchens: "People like yourself, who are in the anti-war movement, have been missing this chance for a long time. Of course, there’s a lot we can do to help the people of Iraq dig up the mass graves, identify the victims...There’s tons of stuff to do. And I’m very glad to hear that you finally want it done."
Hitchens pointed to one organization in particular, Spirit of America, which has listed as one of it’s main objectives to "contribute charitable goods that can have a positive, practical and timely impact in the local communities where American personnel are involved," including Iraq and Afghanistan. A quick Internet search turns up numerous examples of the generosity of the American people, particularly in donating clothes and school supplies for Iraqi children.