Laura Ingraham’s Monday appearance on The View on ABC wasn’t well-reviewed by the Huffington Post, where Rachel Sklar whacked Laura’s knuckles for daring to ask Barbara Walters if she supported victory in Iraq. She condemned the question as an irresponsible rhetorical trick, a conservative canard, “Slightly accusatory, more than a little condescending.”
On Thursday’s Laura Ingraham show, Laura and Rachel faced off over what you can ask Barbara Walters. Sklar insisted this kind of who-wants-victory question was a “debate-ending question,” meant to stifle discussion rather than promote it. Ingraham was quick to disagree, insisting that she wanted the discussion about the war to go on, but The View gang changed the subject to a more important topic: Heather Mills and her nasty tabloid-pleasing divorce from Paul McCartney.
Here's what Sklar wrote on Eat the Press:
[R]ather than grapple with what is really happening over there — complicated progress, hobbled by steps back with every stride forward — Ingraham turns it into an issue of patriotism. Hear the tone in her voice as she responds to Barbara Walters, who makes the legitimate point that the "I think this is a country that is still unhappy about it." (For evidence of same, see: Election 2006, House and Senate.) Responded Ingraham: "But could it change, Barbara? Do you want to win in Iraq?" Again, the tone: Slightly accusatory, more than a little condescending. The "Do you want to win in Iraq?" canard is oft-used by Conservatives in these debates, explicitly making it an us-versus-them equation, where the only answer is "yes" which means the only alternative is to support the war. The real question is not "Do you want to win?" but "What is the best and safest way to end the war, to keep our troops and nation safest?" but that's a much more difficult question, and one which has to acknowledge the patriotism of both sides. Ingraham, of course, is not interested in such discourse.
It's a tired argument, one that should really be obsolete in 2007, after so many false promises and hoped-for-corners-turned and six-more-months and obfuscations and scandals. But it's the kind that Ingraham has been putting forth for literally years, back when she claimed that journalists in Iraq weren't bothering to go out with troops because it would mean leaving their hotel balcony. This, of course, fed straight into the "media ignoring good news from Iraq" meme — even though journalists in search of a feel-good story would either find it cut short by a murder or be injured before they could even get there. Is it important to note that there have been improvements in Iraq? Absolutely. Is it just as important to do it responsibly? Yes. But that's a "View" Laura Ingraham has much less of an interest in taking.
Asking Barbara Walters if she supports victory in Iraq is not a debate-ender (as Lynne Cheney did nicely to Wolf Blitzer months ago). It might be seen as a brushback pitch in a hostile forum. But it's really a rhetorical question for the liberal media elite. Journalists are profoundly uncomfortable rooting in a nationalistic way. In my two years in the White House press corps, there were a lot of dropouts when it came to patriotic rituals in the East Room or the Rose Garden: You could have turned a camera phone on many journos avoiding the hand on the heart, avoiding any repetition of the Pledge of Allegiance alongside the president. They don't like the state-media feel of it.
What conservatives hate about that is that these same journalists don't have the same discomfort rooting for the historic breakthrough of a black or female president. That's a rooting interest just as well.
Also, liberals do this debate-ending stuff all the time – what is "you think the war could eventually go well, you're not in touch with reality." That's not a debate ender? Not to mention the domestic version: "Bush wants more money for bombs while denying health care to kids." That's not an attempt to end debate?