Maybe it was just tough love, but NBC's "Today" gave the Democrats a rather rough going-over this morning. And cast in the role of flip-flopping heavy was none other than John Kerry. The subject matter was Democrat disunity over plans for Iraq, and co-host Campbell Brown set the tone by suggesting that the internal debate could be evidence of "a Democratic party at war with itself."
Norah O'Donnell began the segment she narrated by observing that "Republicans are working to exploit Democratic divisions in November elections." After noting that Kerry has a proposal to pull all troops out by 2007, she cut to a clip of Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-KY] on the floor of the Senate pointing out "the junior senator from Massachusetts has had four positions on Iraq."
And no, that's not a photo of Kerry announcing how many positions on Iraq he has.
It got worse. O'Donnell suggested that Kerry's flip-flops "are once again exposing his party to attacks" in the same way Kerry's voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it meanderings hurt Dems in '04.
When Campbell Brown brought in Tim Russert, she summed up the Dem predicament with her very first question: "Walk us through how in two weeks' time the Democrats could go from having all of the momentum leading into the mid-term elections to allowing divisions over bringing troops from Iraq to create this disunity, and are they giving Republicans the upper hand?"
Russert attributed the turnaround to a nimble bit of Republican political jiujitsu. They went on the offensive, turning the debate into a referendum over whether "we should get out and leave Iraq to the jihadists."
Brown then effectively accused Kerry and Hillary of selfishness, asking whether part of the Dems' problem is that the pair are "focused on their own presidential ambitions for 2008 and less focused on Democrats' chances in 2006?"
Russert didn't give a straightforward answer. Nor did he do so when Brown wondered if something deeper is going on: "you think about 2004 [sic] when Republicans won congress and they had Newt Gingrich leading the charge. A lot of analysts say democrats don't have this galvanizing figure. Is that fair?"
Wow! MSM Newt nostalgia! Who would have thunk it!