Networks Tout Biden’s ‘Experience,’ ‘Accomplishment,’; CNN Sees Biden’s Iraq Plan as ‘Madness’

CBS’s Early Show and NBC’s Today on Monday morning touted, without offering specifics, what CBS reporter Dean Reynolds called Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “wealth of experience” and “long record of accomplishment” on foreign policy; NBC’s David Gregory asserted that Biden had “deep foreign policy experience.” On Sunday’s Good Morning America, reporter John Berman also declared “Biden’s foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama’s resume.”

But CNN’s American Morning asked their Iraq reporter, Michael Ware, to rate Biden’s major contribution to recent foreign policy debates, his plan to partition Iraq into three separate regions. “Madness,” Ware declared, adding: “No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran.”

Appearing later in the same show, Ware again scoffed at Biden’s proposal: “No one supports it. It ain't going anywhere.”

Biden has certainly spent a long time dealing with foreign policy issues, but the network coverage suggests that all of Biden’s contributions have been positive. CBS’s Reynolds was the most effusive this morning, also declaring that the fact that Biden’s son is going to Iraq “will lend a certain credibility to the Democratic ticket’s discussion of the war,” as if Bo Biden’s presence will improve the quality of Obama’s ideas. In a piece shortly after 8:30 this morning, Reynolds declared:

At 65, Joe Biden brings a wealth of experience into the equation. Obama was only 11-years-old when Biden was first elected senator, and he's carved out a long record of accomplishment, especially on foreign policy. His selection was clearly designed to answer critics that Obama lacks experience. Biden's son Bo, currently Delaware's Attorney General, will be shipping off for a tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard next month, something that will lend a certain credibility to the Democratic ticket's discussion of the war.

Over on NBC’s Today, Gregory was slightly more restrained: “Sixty-five-years-old, Biden is a familiar face in Washington. He served in the Senate for three decades, amassing deep foreign policy experience as chairman of the Foreign Relations committee. As a Catholic and a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, his political appeal extends to the working class voters Obama has struggled to attract.”

Today’s Good Morning America had already moved beyond the Biden bios, but reporter John Berman on Sunday hit the requisite talking point: “Biden's foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama's resume and he's scrappy.”

And the New York Times put Biden’s “Foreign Policy Expertise” into the four-column headline blaring Biden’s arrival on the Democratic ticket on Sunday: “Obama Selects Biden, Adding Foreign Policy Expertise to Ticket.” Reporters Adam Nagouney and Jeff Zeleny declared in their second paragraph: “In Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama selected a six-term senator from Delaware best known for his expertise on foreign affairs -- Mr. Biden spent last weekend in Georgia as that nation engaged in a tense confrontation with Russia -- but also for his skills at political combat."

But on Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Iraq-based reporter Michael Ware, who was in studio with co-anchor Kiran Chetry today, delivered a sharp rebuke to Biden’s idea for splitting up Iraq, calling it “madness.” Ware appeared shortly before 6:30am EDT, and Chetry asked him about Biden’s “foreign policy experience” which she said “is expected to be a big boost to Barack Obama.” A partial transcript:

KIRAN CHETRY: Well, the next president will face a number of critical decisions concerning America's foreign policy. They include withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. When will that happen? How will it happen? Plus, how to confront the growing threat from insurgents fighting in Afghanistan and also should the U.S. directly engage Iran? Joe Biden's foreign policy experience is expected to be a big boost to Barack Obama. CNN's Michael Ware is just back from Georgia, he spent a ton of time in Iraq as well, and he's with us now in studio. Good to see you.

MICHAEL WARE: Hi, Kiran, it's great to be here.

CHETRY: Yeah, I want to ask you about your thoughts on Joe Biden and the fact that he's been a long-time supporter of partitioning Iraq into three separate autonomous regions. Is that something that could and would work?

WARE: Well, madness, really, to be honest. I mean, as you see when Senator Biden was -- his nomination was announced -- you find out that opposition to Senator Biden's partition policy is one thing, that, you know there are three ethnic groups in Iraq. No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran. So, really, that would play into the hands of Tehran. So, no, that's not an effective strategy.

Ware returned a bit before 9am EDT and made the same point after Chetry again asked him about the Democrats’ “wealth of experience, especially in foreign affairs.”

KIRAN CHETRY: If Joe Biden brings anything to the Democratic ticket, it's certainly a wealth of experience, especially in foreign affairs, and Barack Obama will need that, if elected, as he addresses some critical foreign policy questions. CNN's Michael Ware knows the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan all too well....I'd like to get your insight about the talk about Iraq and what to do about Iraq. Now, Joe Biden, when he was running for president back in 2006, he talked a lot about his plan, which was partitioning Iraq into three separate and autonomous regions. Would that work?

MICHAEL WARE: No, it doesn't have a snowflake's chance, that kind of a solution. For a start, it just plays directly into Tehran's hands. I mean, one of the big issues that's being fought out in Iraq politically is that the hardcore Iranian-backed Shia parties are trying to create a self-ruling zone in the south. That would basically become a little Iran. Now, in the north you already have a self-governing state -- the Kurds own Kurdistan, and they don't listen to the central government, they've got their own defense force, they've got their own foreign ministry. That's enough of a drama. So, to try to partition it off is just going to destabilize not just that country, but further destabilize the region. And no one supports it. It ain't going anywhere.

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