Conservative talk radio and political blogs all jumped on Vice President Joe Biden’s claim on CNN’s Larry King Live Wednesday night that the successful resolution of the Iraq war “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” Biden and President Obama, then both Senators, strongly opposed President Bush’s 2007 troop surge that marked the turning point in the war.
On his Thursday show, Rush Limbaugh scoffed that “I was all set to say that I think maybe Obama is dumber than Biden, until I heard that....This is worse than chutzpah, folks. This is insulting everybody’s intelligence.”
But during the 2pm of MSNBC Live on Thursday, anchor Tamron Hall -- noting that "the Right [is] really honing in on this comment" -- sought reassurance from the Huffington Post’s “senior congressional correspondent” Ryan Grim, who insisted that Biden was correct. “If you can have 90,000 troops leave there, and if it were still a stable country, then actually leaving the country would be a great achievement,” Grim declared, adding: “And it would also, it’s worth nothing, be an achievement for the anti-war movement.” [Video at right, audio link here.]
Grim also refused to see any connection between Bush’s troop surge and the resulting drop in violence: “It’s an open question exactly what led to the decrease in violence that coincided with the surge.” And he deplored how conservatives blame Obama for the poor state of the economy, but refuse to let Obama take credit for the success in Iraq: “This is just utter nonsense.”
The segment consisted solely of Grim and Hall, so viewers were not able to hear from any conservative or other administration critic who might take issue with Biden's audacious credit-taking. Here’s the exchange as it took place on MSNBC, February 11:
ANCHOR TAMRON HALL: Vice President Joe Biden is drawing attention, again, for another off-the-cuff remark. This time, he declared Iraq is one of President Obama’s, quote, ‘great achievements.’ Talking to Larry King, he was trying to make a point about the drop in violence in Iraq, the growing stability, and the plan to bring U.S. troops home....Joining us to talk about these remarks made by our Vice President is Ryan Grim, senior congressional correspondent for the Huffington Post. Ryan, thanks for joining us again today.
HUFFINGTON POST'S RYAN GRIM: Thanks for having me.
HALL: So you’ve got a lot of people on the Right really honing in on this comment that Iraq would be a great -- or could be the great achievement of the President. What’s your reaction to what Biden said there?”
GRIM: Well, if the scenario that he laid out does actually come to pass, then why wouldn’t that be a good achievement? I mean, in 2006, 2007, the place was hell on earth. And if, if, if you can have 90,000 troops leave there, and if it were still a stable country, then actually leaving the country would be a great achievement. And it would also, it’s worth nothing, be an achievement for the anti-war movement, which really propelled Democrats into Congress in 2006 and helped Obama take the White House in 2008. So, sure, why not? I mean, if you can resolve this war and leave a somewhat stable country behind, while saving the lives of American troops, why wouldn’t that be an achievement?
HALL: Well, Ryan, some would say that you can’t consider it an achievement of this administration because, for example, the surge, which initially this President was against, is what get the violence -- is the point that, with the awakening, the Al Anbar Awakening, as they called it, it set the course for the decrease in violence that we saw and we continue to see in much of Iraq.
GRIM: You know, it’s an open question exactly what led to the decrease in violence that coincided with the surge, but the fact is that Obama is now the President while troops are withdrawing. You know, there’s a real irony here, that something that might go well, Obama can’t take credit for, but whenever Obama says, ‘Well, you know what, actually the bailouts happened during Bush,’ and ‘You know what, the deficits were created under Bush,’ ‘There was eight years of a Bush White House here that led to this unemployment crisis,’ the Right says, ‘Oh, that’s nonsense. You’ve been in office for a year now, this is yours, you own it.’ But when it’s something that might turn out well, ‘Oh, no, no, that was all Bush.’ This is just utter nonsense.
HALL: I’ll let you have the last word with that one. Thanks Ryan, it’s always a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.