According to former Bill Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos, one reason the United States wouldn't start a war with Iran is because the Bush administration doesn't possess the "troops or the allies or the credibility that it would take to launch a war right now." Stephanopoulos, who is now the host of ABC's "This Week," slipped that bit of bias into a discussion on Friday's "Good Morning America" of new sanctions the White House is imposing on Iran. Would the network journalist ever casually assert that his old boss is lacking in credibility? Perhaps if the issue was inappropriate relationships in the workplace? It seems unlikely.
A few minutes earlier, guest co-host Deborah Roberts could hardly refrain from gushing while she reported the details of Hillary Clinton's 60th birthday party on Thursday night. The ABC correspondent lauded, "And a lovely touch from former President Clinton who said at 60, his wife looks very beautiful. Isn't that nice?...Isn't that sweet?" Fellow guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas swooned over the "beautiful" birthday song that rocker Elvis Costello serenaded the 2008 candidate with. GMA regular Chris Cuomo enthused, "She definitely enjoyed it. I can guarantee you that."
A transcript of the two brief segments, which aired at 7:09am and 7:12am on October 26, follow:
DEBORAH ROBERTS: And finally, it's been a lucrative 60th birthday for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Supporters paid up to $2,300 each at a star-studded bash in New York last night. Rocker Elvis Costello marked the milestone, evoking another famous birthday moment.
ELVIS COSTELLO (singing): Happy birthday Mrs. President.
ROBERTS: Pretty nice. And a lovely touch from former President Clinton who said at 60, his wife looks very beautiful. Isn't that nice? That's the news at 7:09. Almost 7:10. Back to you guys. I know. Isn't that sweet?
ELIZABETH VARGAS: I know. Elvis Costello. He's not quite Marilyn Monroe.
ROBERTS: That's okay. It was a beautiful rendition.
VARGAS: It was a beautiful rendition.
CHRIS CUOMO: She definitely enjoyed it. I can guarantee you that.
VARGAS: I can guarantee you, too.
ELIZABETH VARGAS: Now to the increasing tension between the United States and Iran. The Bush administration is now imposing some of the harshest sanctions on Iran since the Iranian hostage crisis nearly 30 years ago. Leading Democrats say they are worried the administration could be putting America on a path to another war. ABC's chief Washington correspondent and host of 'This Week' George Stephanopoulos joins us from Washington with the bottom line. George, first of all, why these sanctions? Why now?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Frustration and anger, Elizabeth. You saw those explosives in the newscast that are being used against American troops in Iraq. The administration is convinced those are coming from Iran and the Iranian revolutionary guards. But they're also frustrated because they can't get-- the administration can't get Russia and China and some of our European allies to go along with broader sanctions through the United Nations, so they decided to act on their own.
VARGAS: The Bush administration did say this morning, quote, 'We do not think conflict is inevitable,' but many Democrats say the rhetoric, the actions we're seeing right now toward Iran mirror exactly what was happening toward Iraq shortly before we invaded.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's true. And there's no question the rhetoric has been ratcheted up. But, over the last five years, we've been fighting in Iraq. So we don't have the troops or the allies or the credibility that it would take to launch a war right now. Now, the administration has gone through some preparations. They've asked for $88 million for some bunker-busting bombs, which could be used against Iranian sites. But all my reporting suggests that they're not spoiling for a war right now. I've talked to senior ministers in both the Israeli and British government who say they don't expect the administration to go to war. Every single administration official I've spoke within, including the President, downplays the possibility of war right now. One administration official told me yesterday, 'We're not going to war with Iran.'
VARGAS: This is having big reverberations already in the race for the White House, of course. Senator Clinton getting a lot of flack because she supported these sanctions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: She certainly is. She supported the sanctions. She also voted for a resolution a couple of weeks ago which named these Iranian revolutionary guards a terrorist group. Her opponents, Senator Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, are all against this. And what Senator Edwards has been saying out on the campaign trail, we're going to show it now, is that she hasn't learned her lesson from the Iraq War."
FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: Senator Clinton voted yes. And she's entitled to do that. I just disagree and I disagree strongly with it. You cannot give Bush and Cheney this kind of authority.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, of course, Senator Clinton says this resolution was in no way, shape or form a vote for war or authorization for war.