Vice President Joe Biden can make the most outrageous gaffes and the major media will try to ignore it. Take his interview with Newsweek. "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That's critical," Biden said. "There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy, because it threatens U.S. interests."
ABC's Jake Tapper blogged the remarks, and asked Jay Carney about them at the White House. But who covered it? ABC, CBS, and NBC have totally skipped it on air. The Washington Post and The New York Times show no coverage in Nexis -- which often includes their blog postings. USA Today and NPR had nothing. Even the Associated Press has been absent. Sen. John McCain lit into Biden on CNN's The Situation Room on Tuesday:
BLITZER: The vice president saying, you know what? Go ahead, you've got to negotiate peace with someone, you negotiate peace with your enemy, if you will. Al Qaeda is an enemy, but the Taliban not necessarily. What say you?
McCAIN: I say that the men and women who are serving, I'm already hearing from them by Twitter and many other means. One of them says, one who's over there in Afghanistan now, quote, "Well, if they aren't the enemy, who's been shooting at us all this time?"
It's just bizarre. But it's not quite as bizarre as you might think because the administration now is placing their eggs in the basket of some kind of an agreement with the Taliban for a cease fire and some kind of reconciliation.
Well, when one of our friends was in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, said to the president Pakistan, you think we'll get peace with the Taliban and the head, the president of Pakistan said, why should they? You're leaving.
There's even Reuters reports, new report that we are willing to release some al Qaeda -- some Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo as a, quote, "confidence building measure." I mean, this is really, really incredible stuff they're doing. The Taliban would agree to a peace settlement when they believe they are beaten. Not when they believe we are leaving.
When Bill O'Reilly interviewed Bill Clinton on Tuesday night, Clinton was much tougher than Biden on the "evil" the Taliban represents:
CLINTON: I think what the Vice President probably was saying is al-Qaeda was our affirmative enemy. They were trying to kill us in America. They were trying to kill us in Iraq and elsewhere and Africa and lots of other places. And the Taliban itself had not conducted out of area operations against us. That's probably true. But that doesn't mean that I think we should not be really concerned if they were to govern Afghanistan.
CLINTON: One of the things that I would be concerned about and always have been with the Taliban is how miserable they made life for so many women and little girls.
CLINTON: And that you know -- I mean this downright abusive evil. I think it's evil.
The gaffe might seem odd in that Biden's Newsweek interviewer was Leslie Gelb, who's been a reporter and editor at The New York Times, but also an official in the Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter administrations. The tone isn't really a formal media interview as much as it sounds like two friends having lunch. In fact, Tapper reported, Biden and Gelb have cobbled together policy options in the Middle East: "The interview was conducted by Les Gelb, with whom Biden authored the so-called 'soft partition' plan to divide Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions: Sunni, Shi’a and Kurd."
Online, CBS News is now noticing that Mitt Romney laid into Biden as well:
"If Vice President Biden is to be believed, both he and President Obama think the Taliban 'is not our enemy.' This statement is bizarre, factually wrong, and an outrageous affront to our troops carrying out the fight in Afghanistan," Romney said in a Tuesday statement.
"The Taliban seeks to reinstate a tyrannical government that violently rejects basic notions of human rights and oppresses minorities," he added. "The Taliban is clearly a bitter enemy of the United States. Vice President Biden's statement to the contrary calls into question the White House's leadership in Afghanistan - or lack of it."