On Fox News, NPR correspondent Mara Liasson said the Democratic Party is "divided" and has "no position" on whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, apparently basing her conclusion on the opposition of most Democratic senators to an amendment setting a date for withdrawal. But a strong majority of Senate Democrats voted for a separate amendment calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning sometime this year.
On the July 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, National Public Radio (NPR) senior political correspondent Mara Liasson asserted that the Democratic Party is "divided" and has "no position" on whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, apparently basing her conclusion on the opposition of most Democratic senators to an amendment setting a date for withdrawal. But despite disagreement over whether to set a date for withdrawal, a strong majority of Senate Democrats voted for a separate amendment calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning sometime this year.
Liasson made her comments in response to NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams, who asserted that the "base" of the Democratic Party supports setting "a date for pullout" from Iraq. Liasson stated that "the Democratic Party in Washington is divided" on the issue, and that "only six Democrats" voted for an amendment setting a date for withdrawing U.S. forces. Liasson apparently was referring to an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) that called for redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007. (In fact, 12 Senate Democrats and Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) voted for the amendment.) Liasson added: "So how can you say that's what the party is for? There is no position."
In fact, a strong majority of Senate Democrats support withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, despite disagreement over how soon that withdrawal should take place. Thirty-seven Democrats, one Republican, and Jeffords, voted for a separate nonbinding amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), calling for the "begin[ning of] a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq this year" and urging the administration to submit to Congress its plan for continued redeployment beyond 2006. Six Democratic senators voted against the amendment, and one did not vote.
In making the assertion that Democrats have "no position" on Iraq, Liasson was engaging in the popular media practice of repeating as true a favorite Republican talking point -- that Democrats are in disarray over the issue.
From the July 9 edition of Fox Broadcast Co.'s Fox News Sunday, hosted by Chris Wallace:
CHRIS WALLACE (host): So, Juan, do you think it would be better or worse for the Democratic Party and its prospects for November if they -- if the Democratic Party votes to make him the nominee, Lieberman the nominee, or votes for the anti-war candidate and says, "We are anti-war"?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it's up to the voters of Connecticut. There are other issues here --
WALLACE: No, but I'm asking you which would be better for the party, just to go down and say we are anti-war and that's the big issue?
WILLIAMS: Well, no. If it's a matter of the party. The party has to be very clear in what it stands for, and I think the party is for someone who agrees, a candidate who agrees, to a date for a pullout. Let's begin an exit strategy.
LIASSON: Well, the party hasn't decided that. I think the Democratic Party in Washington is divided. Look, look, only six Democrats voted for that amendment.
LIASSON: So how can you say that's what the party is for? There is no position.
WILLIAMS: No, I think that's what the base wants.
LIASSON: Oh, sure, OK, the base.
WILLIAMS: I think that's what the base of the party wants. That's what the people who vote Democrat in this country want. And I think if you don't speak that clearly, then you invite people like Brit Hume to say you guys are engaged in a shadow dance.