MRC's Mike Rule noticed on Friday that CBS "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm held fast to deeply pessimistic questions in an interview with Sen. John McCain. She began by wondering if Zarqawi's death would have any effect at all:
"Well, even the president, Senator McCain, had a notably cautious response yesterday to the fact that al Zarqawi was dead. He said we can expect terrorists to carry on without him. What's your assessment? Will his death have any impact on the level of violence? Particularly the civil war that's raging in Iraq now?"
McCain said it should have an impact, even if violence increases for a time in reaction to the successful mission. He insisted that problems may continue, "But we should pause one moment, and be grateful and proud of the men and women in the military who did it." Amen to that. Storm just pressed ahead, and suggesting things could get even worse now:
"In terms of al Qaeda, it's interesting because some experts actually think this might make them stronger in Iraq. They say that al Zarqawi was out of favor, that now Osama bin Laden can put someone in there over whom he has more control. What do you think of that assessment?"
McCain said, "I just respectfully disagree...I don't think Zarqawi is easily replaceable at all." Storm then shifted into asking that if this is a success, then when are the troops coming home? Will this make one bit of difference?
"So many Americans are hoping that this is a positive development and the bottom line for so many people, Senator, is when is our troops coming home? And, there had been this hope, this sort of informal timetable, that our troops could be reduced to 100,000 by years end. Do you think that's realistic? And does the death of Zarqawi make really any difference at all as to whether or not our young people will be coming home?"
McCain counseled patience, that progress is being made, and American casualties should be reduced as Iraqi troops replace them on the front lines. Storm then turned to the political fallout:
"And you've counseled patience in Iraq, but this just continues to be a heartbreaking loss of human life. It continues to be a political liability for the president and members of congress in the run-up to these elections. And, now a new high of 59 percent of Americans think it was a mistake to go to war with Iraq. Are you losing patience?"
He counseled patience, but Storm went for the last gut punch of pessimism:
"And very quickly, some might wonder because we got al Zarqawi why we can't get Osama bin Laden?"