In a long interview with Rachel Sklar of The Huffington Post, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw accentuated the dark cloud inside the silver lining of the surge. The fact that it's having some effect only darkens a "black mark" against the administration. But when it comes to the current campaign, he could only offer praise for Hillary Clinton ("enormous capacity" of her "native intelligence") and Barack Obama (also with "enormous intelligence," and some rookie mistakes.) First, the war:
It was too late, there were a lot of officers and military analysts who said early on that we needed more troops there, the fact that the surge came so late in the process is, I think, a black mark against the war planners and against the administration, I don't think there's any question about that. But now that it's in place it is having some effect: The diminution of insurgent attacks — but now we find out that they're moving north and they're just changing the battlefield.
Sklar seemed intent on finding every common point that could be made between Iraq and Vietnam. Like a good Democratic Party man, Brokaw could only find the nicest things to say about Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, too. First, he said Obama has "made some rookie mistakes, and he's still a work in progress. Everyone agrees he's a man of enormous intelligence and great potential, but one of the reasons we have these campaigns is to see it through, so to speak."
By contrast, on Hillary, Brokaw argued: "I think she's run a very impressive campaign, I think she has enormous capacity in terms of her just native intelligence and her political acuity...she still struggles with what I would probably best describe as that missing component — people are not quite there with her yet. And a lot of it unspoken and some of it just has to do with character — 'I don't quite trust her, I can't warm up to her' — whatever the element is, it's there. Despite all that she has run a remarkably strong campaign."
Just before that, Brokaw complained that the country was too divided between right and left, that the division is "radioactive," and he even complained about his recent interview with conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt:
I think that what has happened at the national level — much less at the state level, at the national level — the professional party organizations have gotten hung up on this liberal/conservative wavelength and it becomes a radioactive wavelength. I was a talk show the other day with Hugh Hewitt — he wanted to just parse the country with these labels! And he didn't want to make a qualitative judgment. He wanted to add up how many were left of center and how many were right of center and make a judgment about that. Listen, I'm out around this country a lot. And what I hear — from Republicans and Democrats alike, in Montana, the Southwest, wherever I am — they don't give a damn if the solution comes from a liberal or comes from a conservative as long as it's working. A lot of these are not ideological issues we have to face.
That's a rich answer coming from Brokaw, who has trouble telling an interviewer from The Huffington Post that the surge is working, and even if it is, it's way too late to give any credit to President Bush or General Petraeus.