At 7:12 this morning, NBC's Today was already turning the Zarqawi victory into a Republican-Democrat spitting match, inviting on Senator Joe Biden (Democrat from Television, I mean, Delaware). When co-host Ann Curry asked: "Do you think, talking about politics for just a moment, that the President might be able now to use this to gain momentum, to improve the chances of, of improving his approval ratings and helping in the midterm elections coming up this November?" Biden said yes, because Bush has been "crippled" by "incompetence" at home and abroad:
Well, I hope it does improve his ratings. Look, I’m a Democrat. We get one president at a time. This election in November is not going to be for president of the
United States/>/>, and he has been basically crippled at home and abroad because of the incompetence of the way his administration has operated at home and abroad, and that’s not good for the country. He fails, America/>/> ends up getting hurt. And so, I hope it does improve his standing. I hope it does embolden him then to take bolder moves in terms of changing policy in Iraq/>/>. He’s made some significant changes in Iran/>/>. That’s helpful. But we have a long way to go. His low ratings and his inability to rally any support is a very difficult position for the United States/>/> internationally.
Curry began the interview by asking Biden if he pumped his fist in the air, and Biden replied "Aw, it's great good news," and it's a "significant hit." But that didn't stop Biden from then suggesting it was not truly that significant a hit:
Curry: "Now David Gregory just reported that there's relief and elation at the White House. I guess it would be fair to say that some in the administration would be hoping that this might be a seminal moment in the, in changing the face of the war in
Iraq/>/>. Do you think it will be?"
Biden: "Well I pray it will be, I doubt it will be, Ann. There are two things here. One there is this, there is this insurgency and the jihadists led by Zarqawi. But there's also a flat-out sectarian war going on. There are three large militias that are going after one another. They're moving against in reprisal. Granted Zarqawi was able to foment that and make it worse but as I said to the President last time I got back from Iraq if every jihadist was eliminated from Iraq there is still a war in Iraq, a significant war. We have 400,000 people in uniform in
Iraq/> and, and yet you still have the militia being the, the primary moving parts in Iraq/>/>."
Curry did ask a good question from the right, suggesting that if Biden wants to hold Donald Rumsfeld responsible for everything bad that has happened in Iraq, shouldn't he get credit for Zarqawi:
"You know we heard this morning in Mik’s rport, Jim Miklaszewski's report that
U.S./>/> special operation forces were involved using surveillance and intelligence or intelligence. You know you're on record as saying that the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign for mistakes in Iraq/>/>, that he should take responsibility for Abu Ghraib and possibly for Haditha. Does Rumsfeld deserve credit for this?"
Biden: "Sure. Sure, I’m not suggesting everything Secretary Rumsfeld does is wrong. I just think the way the overall war has been guided has been seriously mistaken. And contrary to the position taken by a lot of the military people on the ground. And this is a victory, this is significant, but this does not peace make. [Laura Ingraham laughed at this today, breaking into a Yoda impression.]
We shall see. I would caution people to understand that there is still a guy named Sadr who is out there, he has his own militia, there is still a militia in the Shia regions, there is still an insurgency made up of people who aren’t part of Zarqawi’s network. We’ve got a lot of work to do, an overwhelming amount of work to do, to help the Iraqis stand together. And we don’t seem to have a plan for that at this moment. But I don’t want in any way to take away from this event. This is a very, very, very, very good thing that happened.”