Troop Withdrawal: McCaffrey Muffs MSM Message

There could be an NBC intern out of work by lunch-time. Somebody failed to get the DNC/MSM talking points to Barry McCaffrey. A guest on this morning's Today show, the retired general obstinately refused to go along with the party line in reacting to the news that a drawdown of US troops in Iraq is in the works. Didn't Barry at least watch Carl Levin over the weekend? The Dem senator from Michigan had made it clear that this was all about election-year politics.

Co-host Campbell Brown picked up right where Levin left off.

Brown: "Based on your assessment of the situation on the ground, do you think this plan is realistic?"

McCaffrey: "Yeah, sure. . . Realistic assumptions will probably occur."

No-o-o-o-o! Brown took another tack: "Put 'realistic' aside and tell me whether you think it's a good idea, though."

McCaffrey: "Yeah, sure."

You could almost hear Campbell thinking "What is this guy, stuck on stupid? Alright general, we're gonna give you one last shot, and I swear if you don't come through, your next appearance will be for the 75th D-Day anniversary in 2019."

Brown: "Is it fair to say -- and maybe you are saying that politics is not playing a role [but] our NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll shows 50 percent of Americans saying it's time for troops to come home. [How much is that] having an effect? Are they part of the decision making process?"

Barry finally took the hint: "I don't think there is any question. I think the administration has twenty-four months to make it look like it's working, meaning the Iraqis are taking the lead."

But just when it looked as if Barry was, at last, getting on track, he backslid:

"Certainly policy is an extension of political policy. I just don't think the mid-term elections will dominate it. The larger factors are Iraqi security forces and the ability of the Army and the Marine Corps to sustain this effort.

McCaffrey did take a parting shot at Donald Rumsfeld.

Brown "How much of a role is the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, playing in all of this? Is this driven by General Casey and the White House?"

McCaffrey: "Well, I think his views are probably increasingly irrelevant. This won't be a question decided by anybody but the Ambassador and Casey on the ground. . . I don't think the Pentagon is playing a major role anymore."

Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle.' Contact him at

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