To judge by the outraged defense of Democrats and the MSM that Matt Lauer and Tim Russert advanced on this morning's Today show, the Bush administration's arguments on fighting the war on terror are hitting home.
NBC reporter Kelly O'Donnell set the tone with this little shot at the president:
"While the president has cautioned not to politicize what he is talking about, he was greeted here in Salt Lake by 2,000 invited members of the public who carried signs, there was music playing - a campaign-style event - and we were told this was intended to counter some of the war demonstrations led by people like Cindy Sheehan."
Preliminaries over, it was on to the main event, the Lauer/Russert tag team.
Lauer: "The president has tried very hard in recent days and months to connect the two wars going on - the war with Iraq and the war on terror. He told Brian Williams that Iraq is part of the struggle against the terrorists. Is this his way of saying the Democrats who called for a time table to get out of Iraq. They are also then trying to retreat from the war on terror?"
Russert: "Absolutely. Those are the words we have been hearing all week: Retreat, defeat, appeasement. The [GOP strategy is that the] president must not debate the rationale for going into Iraq or the management of the war but rather say this is a global struggle and you are safer with Republicans."
Lauer: "Yet, however, Tim, no Democrat has ever spoken out saying we should retreat in the war on terrorism."
Does Lauer realize that in making this assertion, he is implicitly rejecting the President's argument that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror? For surely Lauer cannot deny that the Murthas/Deans/Kerrys/Pelosis/Lamonts of the Democrat world are calling for a retreat from Iraq, a 'redeployment' as they so delicately put it? It is only if Lauer embraces the Dem view - that there is no link between Iraq and the international war on terror - that his allegation could even begin to be true.
Later, the pair defended MSM accuracy.
Lauer: "The media took a hit from Secretary Rumsfeld as well, accused them of spreading myths and distortions . . . about our troops and our countrythem . We've got 2,600 Americans dead in Iraq, 41,000 Iraqis. Is anyone still going to blame the media for the bad news coming out that country?"
Russert: "That's the question. Certainly the conservative Republican base grab on to that message. I found it particularly interesting that those words were used during the first anniversary of Katrina. One year ago there was a major debate as to what was reality. What was shown by the media on the ground in New Orleans or what was being said by official government spokesmen. We know later that the media told the truth about Katrina."
Russert closed with what amounted to a bald Dem GOTV message:
"In terms of Iraq, our reports have been accurate and the Secretary can try to distinguish himself from them or criticize them. The voters have a big decision to make."