Networks Lauding 'Brilliant' Obama on Petraeus Move Are Skipping Over Ugly Anti-Surge Clips

While the television networks were doing an Obama Superiority Dance, proclaiming the president's firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal and replacing him with Gen. David Petraeus was "brilliant," something was missing in the coverage. That was a sense that if Petraeus is universally honored as the savior of Iraq, why do the networks all forget it was Obama and Biden who suggested Petraeus and his surge was a bad idea a few years ago?

On NBC, Chuck Todd was promoting it as a "commander-in-chief moment." Mr. Todd, please read a piece of this Meet the Press interview from September 7, 2008, with appreciation for fill-in host Tom Brokaw actually pushing new V.P. nominee Joe Biden about whether the surge and its architect deserved any credit for improvements in Iraq. Biden didn't want to cry uncle:

BROKAW: Here you were, just one year ago, on Meet the Press. This was your take on the surge at that time, so let's listen to that, Senator. "I mean, the truth of the matter is this administration's policy and the surge are a failure," you said, "and that the surge, which was supposed to stop sectarian violence and - long enough to give political reconciliation, there has been no political reconciliation."

Then you went on to say earlier in the year, "General Petraeus believes that it is a good idea, the surge. He may be the only one who believes that. Virtually no one else believes it's a good idea." Well, at the time, John McCain did, and all the indications are the surge has worked up to a point. It's not a victory, as Senator Lindsey Graham said the other night...

BIDEN: Or as John McCain said.

BROKAW: Or John McCain said, but the conditions are in place, and Anbar province, where you have been, where there had been so much difficulty, the Iraqis now have taken over that province. We have brigades that have Sunnis and Shia serving side by side...

BIDEN: Not many.

BROKAW: ...fighting the terrorists. But it's a process, and it's beginning, and the surge made that possible, did it not?

BIDEN: No. The surge helped make that--what made is possible in Anbar province is they did what I'd suggested two and a half years ago: gave local control. They turned over and they said to the Sunnis in Anbar province, "We promise you, don't worry, you're not going to have any Shia in here. There's going to be no national forces in here. We're going to train your forces to help you fight al-Qaeda." And that you--what you had was the Awakening. The Awakening was not an awakening by us, it was an awakening of the Sunnis in Anbar province willing to fight.

BROKAW: Cooperating with the Shia.

BIDEN: Willing to fight. Cooperating with--no, they weren't cooperating with Shiite. They didn't cooperate with the Shiites.

BROKAW: Once the Awakening got under way.

BIDEN: No, no, no. No, they didn't cooperate with the Shiites. It's still--it's a big problem, Tom. You got--we're paying 300 bucks a month to each of those guys. Now the problem has been and the, and the promise was made by Maliki that they would be integrated into the overall military. That's a process that is beginning in fits and starts now, but it's far from over. Far from--look, the bottom line here is that it's--let's--the surge is over. Here's the real point. Whether or not the surge worked is almost irrelevant now. We're in a new deal.

This is where the laugh track should have started. "Whether or not the surge worked is almost irrelevant now." Except that you said Gen. Petraeus was a crazy lone wolf in arguing for it, and now Biden was looking silly. But he actually dug a bigger hole, crediting Obama and not Petraeus for successes in Iraq:

BIDEN: What is the administration doing? They're doing what Barack Obama has suggested over 14 months ago, turn responsibility over and draw down our troops. We're about to get a deal from the president of the United States and Maliki, the head of the Iraqi government, that's going to land on my desk as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying we're going to set a timeline to draw down our forces. The only guy in America out of step is John McCain. John McCain's saying no timeline. They've signed on to Barack Obama's proposal.

BROKAW: But the surge helped make that timeline possible, did it not?

BIDEN: Well, it did help make it possible. It did help. But it's not the reason.

It can't be that hard for Todd and NBC researchers to dig up their own footage and look at it again. Were Obama and Biden "brilliant" back then? Or do good reporters never remember what happened before last week?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis