MSNBC's Bashir Mocks 'Chicken Hawk' Herman Cain, Despite Dept. Of Navy Service

MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Wednesday wondered if Herman Cain, who worked for the Department of the Navy during Vietnam, is a "chicken hawk" because he criticized the President's pull out of Iraq.

Talking to professor Michael Eric Dyson, Bashir complained, "And on the issue of Iran, does Cain remind you at all of Dick Cheney and that long roster of chicken hawks who've rabidly pushed for U.S. military action there?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

A chicken hawk is a term used for someone who aggressively supports current wars, but cowardly avoided military service in the past. Martin Bashir grew up in South London and did not serve in the military (according to several internet biographies).

This isn't the first time MSNBC has made such a charge. On October 6, Last Word anchor Lawrence O'Donnell accused Cain of being a draft dodger.

O'Donnell, smeared, "Can you explain how you avoided military service during the Vietnam War and during the draft and why you should be Commander-in-Chief if you did successfully avoid military service during the war that came during what would have been your war years, how you, after avoiding the Vietnam War, why should you be Commander-in-Chief?"

Cain responded:

HERMAN CAIN: ...I worked for the Department of the Navy. Now, your choice of words to say, “How did I avoid the Vietnam War?” I wasn't trying to avoid the Vietnam War. Here's what happened, Lawrence. I was working in a critical area called exterior ballistics. I worked on something called the rocket-assisted projectile for the Department of the Navy. It was my local board in Atlanta, Georgia, that told me, we would rather for you to continue to do that analytical work to help the Navy rather than us drafting you. Secondly, when they had the lottery, I made myself available. The year that they had the lottery for the draft they did not draft me because they didn't get to my number.

O'Donnell, it should be pointed out, avoided the draft by getting a college deferment.

A transcript of the October 26 exchange, which aired at 3:03pm EDT, follows:


MARTIN BASHIR: And on the issue of Iran, does Cain remind you at all of Dick Cheney and that long roster of chicken hawks who've rabidly pushed for U.S. military action there? And do you know if Cain has suggested a clear way of going into Iran and then of course, getting out?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I mean, this is pretty ludicrous. I think to suggest that, yes, to really pillory Hillary for saying that look, should we leave, we don't want Iran rushing over to its neighbor to create some catastrophe there. Aren't we being good citizens? Aren't we not only withdrawing but withdrawing with a conscience? And unfortunately Cain's foreign policy doesn't dictate a kind of negotiation that would have us acknowledge the sovereignty of someone else and to acknowledge that their government is not simply at the behest of the American government. So again, unfortunately here, this is muddled thinking and even more muddled foreign policy its wake.

BASHIR: You mentioned his mockery of the Secretary of State. It seems almost incredible, given that Hillary Clinton was in Libya when the air was full of lead and shells. As a woman, she's ventured into deeply conservative, Islamic nations repeatedly to try to improve relationships. I mean, this struck me as not just discourteous just to the secretary of state. Doesn't it also indicate Mr. Cain's utter ignorance of the sensitivities involved in trying to broker a warm relationship with foreign countries?

DYSON: That's a great point. We can add a gender insensitivity on top of that. So, that trying to attack her, ignores the incredible amount of diplomacy she is actually engaged in. She didn't do this before a dog fight or a race in Texas. She did this in the midst of the teeth of the battle. She is on the front lines and the cutting edges where real consequences are there. And I think that her ability to go into these deeply and profoundly foreign territories to articulate a vision that is at least ostensibly committed to trying to negotiate peace and to broker acceptance of a more democratized form of government says a lot for who she is. And yes, it is about Cain's ignorance and about his disavowal of the necessity of talking to people, as opposed to being the big bully pulpit of the American thump-our-chests approach to foreign diplomacy as opposed to trying to work it out before we drop a bomb or stick a bayonet in someone's face.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org