Perle of Wisdom: Lauer Cites Neo-Con to Knock Iran Talks

How do you know the Iraq Study Group's suggestion of reaching out to Iran is in trouble? When of all people a leading MSM light like Matt Lauer approvingly cites leading neo-con Richard Perle to shoot down the idea.

The Baker-Hamilton duo was making the TV rounds this morning. Appearing on 'Today,' it wasn't long into their chat with Matt that he hit them with this:

"Let's talk about this idea of reaching out to the people in the neighborhood - Syria and Iran. Richard Perle said recently that 'talking to Iran about Iraq will be seen throughout the region as an indication of American weakness."

To drive home the point, 'Today' displayed a graphic with Perle's photo and the language cited above.

Asked Lauer, essentially restating Perle: "So as a former Secretary of State, how do you sit down with someone like President Ahmadinejad of Iran knowing about the past and present of that country, and not make it seem like the US is operating from a position of weakness?"

After Baker argued that Iran had an interest in avoiding a chaotic Iraq that would send thousands of refugees into Iran, a tight-lipped Lauer asked dubiously: "but what do we get in return, Secretary Baker?"

Responded Baker: "We get their assistance to stop meddling in there and creating further chaos." In a classic moment, Lauer replied with a "right" that dripped with skepticism.

No doubt adding insult to Baker's injury was that the pro-Israel Perle is surely one of Baker's bete noires. Note that the Iraq Study Group report managed to slip in - presumably at Baker's behest - a recommendation that the Palestinian right of return be considered. This is something that supporters of Israel see as absolute anathema since it would threaten to drown the Jewish state in a Palestinian sea.

There will be many more twists and turns along the ISG's way. But the spectacle of Lauer citing Perle to refute Baker was some must-see TV.

Finkelstein recently returned from Iraq. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.