Former Clinton spinner George Stephanopoulos, now ABC’s “chief Washington correspondent,” argued on Friday’s Good Morning America that Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s votes last night against funding U.S. troops was a smart move to “keep them in the game,” and speculated that by next year the vote could look “prescient” because “either American troops will be on their way home, or the war will be so unpopular, that everyone else will be coming along to their position.”
As Stephanopoulos repeated the logic of the Democratic campaign operatives, nowhere in his equation did he suggest the possibility that either the situation in Iraq may be significantly improved — making the Democrats urge to surrender now seem foolish — or that if the Democrats succeed in forcing American troops off the battlefield, they would be blamed if the bloodshed becomes far worse.
In the segment, which aired at about 7:06am EDT, Stephanopoulos did admit that the candidates were being led by far-left grassroots efforts like MoveOn.org: “They are under tremendous pressure from grassroots activists in the Democratic party, from MoveOn.org....and calculated that they could not afford to defy these activists.” Such profiles in courage.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
Robin Roberts: “Also there in D.C. is chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, also the host of This Week. Good morning, George, and you heard about-”
George Stephanopoulos: “Good morning, Robin.”
Roberts: “Good to see you. You know about Senators Obama and Clinton voting against the bill, so how will this affect their presidential campaigns?”
George Stephanopoulos: “Robin, I think they are both calculating that this vote will keep them in the game, even though both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have voted for the funding in the past, they are under tremendous pressure from grassroots activists in the Democratic party, from MoveOn.org, from those voters who work hardest in the primary, to vote against this bill. They were looking at each other, looking at John Edwards, who’s had already said he would vote against the funding, and calculated that they could not afford to defy these activists in these primary states.”
Roberts: “When you look at a brand new poll that is out today in the New York Times it says, George, that 69% say Congress should fund the war if the Iraq government meets benchmarks. So how much of a defining moment will this vote become?”
Stephanopoulos: “This could end up being a problem for either candidate if they got the nomination in the general — if they got the nomination, they could be in the general election — this could come into play, but I think they’re both calculating that by the time they get to that point that, either American troops will be on their way home, or the war will be so unpopular, that everyone else will be coming along to their position. They’re calculating that this vote will look prescient, not unprincipled.”
Roberts: “No doubt, of course, the Iraq war will go a long way in the presidential election and the campaigning. Yesterday in the White House with the President there in the Rose Garden, in the press conference, he said that if the Iraqi government, if the government asked the U.S. to leave Iraq, that we will. How realistic is that?”
Stephanopoulos: “Well, you know, just about a week ago a majority in the Iraqi parliament signed a petition that said U.S. forces should leave. They didn’t put it to a vote, yet, but they did sign that petition, so it, there is a possibility that this will happen, and I think if the pres — if that did happen, the President would have no choice but to call on U.S. troops to withdraw, and this is a position shared not only by Democrats in the Congress, but the top Republicans in the Congress as well. What the President is hoping is that he can prevent that type of vote, at least in the short term.”