Whether it's an example of the host's bias or incompetence, potentially one of the most amazing aspects of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama on Sunday's "Meet the Press" was that Tom Brokaw didn't ask the former Secretary of State about the success of the surge in Iraq or the Democrat presidential candidate's opposition to this winning military strategy.
Given Powell's critical position in garnering support for the Iraq War, as well as his involvement in Desert Storm many years ago, it should have been essential to any interview dealing with his endorsement of either candidate how he feels the 2007 increase in troops has worked, and what the Senatorial vote on this strategy by his candidate of choice says about that person's foreign policy acumen.
Despite this logic, a full examination of the transcript and video of this almost 30-minute interview identified absolutely no reference to the surge whatsoever, and no questions posed to the former Secretary of State concerning the wisdom of Sen. Obama's position on it.
The absence of this subject was made even more absurd given the following exchange between Brokaw and Powell (photo courtesy MSNBC.com):
MR. BROKAW: You have some differences with Barack Obama. He has said that once he takes office, he wants to begin removing American troops from Iraq. Here's what you had to say about that: "I have found in my many years of service, to set arbitrary dates that don't coincide with the situation on the ground or what actually is happening tends not to be a useful strategy. ... Arbitrary deadlines that are snatched out of the air and are based on some lunar calculation is not the way to run a military or a strategic operation of this type." That was on February 10th of this year on CNN. Now that you have Barack Obama's ear in a new fashion, will you say to him, "Drop your idea of setting a deadline of some kind to pull the troops out of Iraq"?
GEN. POWELL: First of all, I think that's a great line, and thanks for pulling it up. And I believe that. But as I watch what's happening right now, the United States is negotiating the--an agreement with the Iraqi government that will call for most major combat operations to cease by next June and for American forces to start withdrawing to their bases. And that agreement will also provide for all American troops to be gone by 2011, but conditioned on the situation as it exists at that time. So there already is a timeline that's being developed between the Iraqis and the United States government. So I think whoever becomes the president, whether it's John McCain or whether it's Barack Obama, we're going to see a continued drawdown. And when, you know, which day so many troops come out or what units come out, that'll be determined by the commanders and the new president. But I think we are on a glide path to reducing our presence in Iraq over the next couple of years. Increasingly, this problem's going to be solved by the Iraqis. They're going to make the political decisions, their security forces are going to take over, and they're going to have to create an environment of reconciliation where all the people can come together and make Iraq a much, much better place.
Wouldn't this have been an ideal moment for Brokaw to ask Powell if it was the surge that put America in a position to draw down troops as well as "create an environment of reconciliation where all the people can come together and make Iraq a much, much better place?" Maybe more important, shouldn't this have set up Brokaw to ask the former Secretary of State what it says about Obama's military and foreign policy acumen that he opposed this strategy?
Apparently not, for Brokaw actually changed the subject:
MR. BROKAW: Let me go back to something that you raised just a moment ago, and that's William Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen who's now active in school issues in Illinois. He had some past association with Barack Obama. Wouldn't it have been more helpful for William Ayers to, on his own, to have renounced his own past?
What a farce, Tom. Nice job!
In the end, as it appears a metaphysical certitude that Obama-loving media are going to play and/or cite ad nauseum sections of this interview, it would have been nice to hear Powell's opinion about the success of the surge as well as how he could support a candidate that voted against it.
Alas, as NewsBusters has been pointing out for months, Brokaw is no Russert, and, as a result, we may never know what Powell thinks about this issue.
Now that's some great journalism, dontcha think?