On CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning, co-host Harry Smith reported from Baghdad. However, unlike Dave Price, the "Early Show weatherman who reported on high morale and security progress in Iraq -- his reporting can be seen here and here -- Smith focused on the negative, and even complained that the security situation is so bad that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream.
Harry Smith: "Now the one other example I can give you of what the security situation is like here, just around our hotel, it's very, very secure. But when I asked our folks if I could go down to the corner and out of the secure zone to get an ice cream last night they said it's a risk just simply not worth taking. Hannah."
Smith began his report charging that not much progress has been made since the start of the war:
"Hannah, some quick first impressions being back in Iraq for the first time in just over three years. The one thing I'm struck by immediately is the hulking ruins of the buildings that were bombed at the beginning of the war. That's the communications building behind me. That still sits there as does the oil ministry and all the other ministry buildings that were attacked. It's kind of a stark reminder of just how little has changed over the last three years or so..."
He followed this by focusing on sectarian violence and that Iraq is becoming "segregated" as Sunnis and Shiites both move to communities dominated by their religious denominations:
"The other big story that is just so prominent here is the sectarian violence and the security situation. The Tigris river behind me is becoming a sort of de facto segregation line, as many of the Sunnis are moving to one side so they can be with their kind and the Shiites are moving to the other so they can be with their kind."
In fact, the Smith claimed the security situation is so bad, that the Iraqi middle class is leaving:
"It's gotten to a point where many Iraqi middle class have decided to try to get out of the country. And we just came in from Jordan where they're saying that the price of property there, real estate, is going up, because so many Iraqi middle class are trying to rent apartments there, and actually buy real estate."
Harry Smith focused on how bad the violence and security are in Iraq, but according to an article written by Alicia Colon in the "New York Sun," Congressman Steve King of Iowa suggests some American cities are just as violent. And as to Mr. Smith’s charge that security problem in Iraq prevented him from being able to go out and buy ice cream last night, there are plenty of neighborhoods here in America where going out to get ice cream is too risky.
In addition to the Harry Smith’s report from Baghdad, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante interviewed President Bush. This interview was interesting for two reasons. First Rene Syler introduced Plante’s piece noting that a new CBS News poll shows that 6 in10 Americans approve of President Bush’s approach to immigration:
Rene Syler: "A new CBS News poll finds that six out of ten Americans like President Bush's ideas for immigration reform. On Thursday, he visited the U.S./Mexico border in Arizona, and he talked to CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante about the issue."
Second, Plante asked President Bush what he thought Lyndon Johnson would do on immigration.
Bill Plante: "Ever ask yourself what would Lyndon Johnson do in a situation like this?"
George Bush: "I think Lyndon would be sitting here saying we need a comprehensive immigration bill."
It is unclear why Plante would ask President Bush to speculate about what President Johnson would do on immigration. Maybe Plante was referring to the fact that both Johnson and Bush were from Texas. Or maybe it was a subtle jab at President Bush. Johnson, as a former Senate Majority Leader, knew how to get things passed a heavily Democratic Senate. Could Plante be inferring that Bush needs to learn how to do a better job twisting arms? Whatever reason Plante had in mind, the question seems odd.