Gregory's Depiction of Dem Iraq Maneuvering Wins Bill Bennett's Praise

January 18th, 2007 9:26 AM
Imagine you're John Kerry, comfortably installed before your television in your silk robe this morning, watching David Gregory's "Today" segment on the way the Dem presidential contenders are maneuvering their Iraq war positions. Suddenly, the screen fills with the infamous clip of you claiming you were for the war before you were against it. Enough to make a man spit out his pain au chocolat! Adding insult to injury, Gregory points to your performance as an object lesson of how being too nuanced can hurt a nominee's chances.

That Gregory chose to run the Kerry clip is a mark of how 'fair & balanced' his segment was this morning. His focus was not so much on the substance of the various Dem contenders' positions on Iraq, but on the politics of their positionings, to wit:

"Wednesday, Democratic hopefuls stepped up their attacks, including Senator Hillary Clinton . . . Clinton's attention-seeking announcement came one day after Senator Barack Obama's high-profile presidential campaign launch. Obama, who unlike Clinton has always opposed the war backed Clinton's call for a troop cap. But their approach falls shot of what another 2008 presidential contender, former senator John Edwards has advocated -- an attempt to cut off war funding. As Democrats maneuver around the war debate, the question centers on just how far to go in challenging the president. One danger is that an overly nuanced opposition [as the Kerry clip began to play] may backfire, just as Senator John Kerry's infamous war stance in 2004 hurt him."

That's gotta hurt - right in the foie gras. By the way, have a look at the appalled look on the face of the veteran in the lower right-hand corner of the Kerry shot. Priceless!

View video of Gregory segment here.

Bill Bennett, chatting with Matt Lauer thereafter, described Gregory's report as "excellent" - as indeed it was. We've often roasted Gregory here, but fair is fair.

Bennett also made these thought-provoking points:

"This was best put by John McCain, who said and I take him at his word, he would rather lose an election than lose a war. This thing is unpopular; there's no doubt about it . . . But to hold this war hostage to political outcomes it seems to me is the wrong thing. We are in . . . a global war against terrorism, look at the front page of Al Jazeera today [which trumpets the senators' opposition to the Bush plan] and think of the consequences. . . I don't want to attribute sheer, or mere, political motives to the people who are opposing but it's the loudest voices who are running for president. What's the motivation of the people on the president's side?" Bennett's implication - while political opportunism accounts for at least some of the opposition, those supporting an unpopular war are by definition less opportunistic.

View video of Bennett comments here.

Matt was moved to acknowledge: "Right. I understand what you're saying."

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at