One day after Katie Couric snapped at Bill Frist for "parroting" the administration line on Iraq, Matt Lauer asked Joseph Biden if a new Senate resolution on Iraq had, "any teeth in it?" NBC’s Today show has been hoping to use a new Republican resolution on Iraq as a way to show even supporters are fleeing from Bush. Unfortunately for Couric and company Senator Frist merely reiterated administration policy yesterday so this morning they turned to Biden to slam the administration.
Couric opened this morning’s Today: "Then the war in Iraq. It’s becoming increasingly unpopular and Congress is trying to respond." A few minutes later NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell opened her report using language that Joe Biden would later cite in his interview:
O'Donnell: "Good morning, Ann. President Bush is again defending his stand on Iraq brushing off the latest frustrations from Congress."
Then at 7:14 am Lauer prompted Biden with his first question:
Lauer: "So it's a non-binding resolution laying out strategy for the next period of time in Iraq. Let me read you some of the wording, the language here. It says that 2006, quote, 'should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of the United States forces from Iraq.' So a non-binding resolution, got the words, 'should be,' in there. Does it have any teeth in it?"
Biden responded: "No but what it does Matt, it is a turning point. You have the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans saying, ‘Mr. President we are tired of you not leveling with us.’"
After Biden claimed, "We’re losing the American people,' Lauer then asked:
"So you got some cooperation on this bill but there seems to be disagreement as to what it means? Harry Reid the leader of the, of the Democrats in the Senate said it's a no confidence vote in the Bush administration's Iraqi policy. The White House basically said it's an endorsement of that policy. How do you see it?"
No big surprise as to which way Biden saw it, as he replied: "Well let me ask you a rhetorical question Matt. Do you think they’re happy that we passed it? I think that’s the answer to the question." Biden then picked up on Kelly O’Donnell’s earlier "frustration" line: "The truth of the matter is that the administration did not want to see this come up. They did not want to see this pass. It does reflect as one of you or Katie said earlier the frustration of the United States Congress with the unwillingness or inability of the President to lay out what is the plan for success other than, ‘stay the course and not one day longer.’"
Lauer then tossed this softball Biden’s way: "Do you think the Republicans were forced to put forth this amendment seeing 2006 as a transition year in Iraq because 2006 is also a midterm election year and they had to send a message to voters saying, ‘we understand the growing discontent with this war?’"
Biden then pointed out some of Today show’s frequent and favorite Republican guests were critical of the administration: "There is an overwhelming frustration. You’ve had so many people on your show, Matt, Republicans who haven’t disagreed with a thing I’ve said or I’ve not disagreed with them. The John McCains, the Chuck Hagels, a whole lot of people over there who are very concerned that there doesn’t seem to be a coherent plan or at least if there is one we’re not being told it."
Biden’s citing of McCain prompted Lauer to ask about the administration’s stance on torture:
Lauer: "Let me ask you about some, some wording in the larger defense bill, bill. There's, there's wording on the use of torture in that, that was put forth by John McCain. It says in terms of the use of torture that it would be, it would ‘prohibit the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees and standardize interrogation procedures used by the U.S.’ Now the White House has said, they've threatened to veto any bill that contained that language. Where's this gonna go?"
Biden pontificated: "I pray to God they don’t do that Matt. That would do us more harm around the world than anything we could do in the near term. John McCain is right. The idea that the United States of America cannot rally around that assertion about how we’re gonna treat prisoners, seems to me, to undercut the very esssence of who we want to be viewed as around the world. I pray to God they don’t veto that. I can’t imagine them being that foolish."