Was ABC's George Stephanopoulos [file photo] moderating a presidential debate in Iowa today [transcript here], or running an internal Dem strategy session over how to most propitiously handle U.S. surrender in Iraq?
Imagine that instead of being a former Clinton operative, you're a bona fide journalist dedicated to challenging candidates about their assumptions. When talk turned to Iraq, wouldn't the first questions out of your mouth have been along these lines?:
- Some of your Democratic colleagues, members of the House and Senate, who recently visited Iraq, have acknowledged that the surge is working. Rep. Brian Baird of Washington, a previously anti-war Democrat, said just Friday that "we're making real progress. I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security." Doesn't this give you pause about your unconditional plans to withdraw?
- Even the anti-war New York Times recently editorialized that "the United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq." Don't your plans to withdraw fly in the face of these realities?
- How can you unconditionally advocate withdrawal until you give General Petraeus, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, an opportunity to report to you next month about progress in Iraq?
But Stephanopoulos asked none of those challenging questions. Instead, all his inquiries were predicated on the assumption that surrender is the right strategy. Here are the questions on Iraq Stephanopoulos posed:
- More voters wrote in questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue. They all wanted to know what your plans were to get out of Iraq, and to get out safely from Iraq.
- So does that mean that Governor Richardson just is wrong when he says that all troops, all troops, except for protection of the embassy, can be out by the end of the year?
- I want to get everybody in on this question. First let me just find out if anybody agrees with Governor Richardson on this question.
- So you would pull out, Senator Edwards?
- By December. By Governor Richardson's plan?
- Senator Biden, I think everyone agrees, everyone is afraid of the things you just outlined right there. But this is a fundamental difference with respect, Senator Edwards. Governor Richardson says that every troop except for protection of the embassy can be out by December, and if they're not, then the conflict is going to continue.
- Senator Obama, you've invoked the idea of conventional thinking a few times here, yet when I listen to what you're saying about what you would do in Iraq, now it sounds very similar to what Senator Clinton would do.Is there any difference between you and Senator Clinton on what you would do right now? Senator Obama, where do you come down on this question? How many troops are going to have to stay for how long?
Stephanopoulos didn't pose one question challenging the Dems' assumption that surrender is the way to go. Not one. Stephanopoulos was not moderating a debate. He was ring leader of a Dem surrender-as-soon-as-possible bull session.
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