Matthews let slide Gillespie's denial that McCain criticized "the president" for overly optimistic rhetoric on Iraq

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

Chris Matthews failed to challenge former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie's false suggestion that Sen. John McCain had not recently criticized "the president" for his overly optimistic rhetoric on the war in Iraq, but rather had stated that "the people thought it was going to be easier than it was." In fact, the four comments McCain specifically quoted as having "led" the American people "to believe that this [the Iraq conflict] would be some kind of a day at the beach" all came from high-ranking members of the Bush administration, including one statement from President Bush himself.

On the August 24 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews failed to challenge former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie when he suggested falsely that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in remarks made at a fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), was not criticizing "the president" for his overly optimistic rhetoric on the war in Iraq, but rather was stating that "the people thought it was going to be easier than it was." In fact, the four comments McCain specifically quoted as having "led" the American people "to believe that this [the Iraq conflict] would be some kind of a day at the beach" all came from high-ranking members of the Bush administration, including one statement from President Bush himself: "Mission Accomplished," which was on a banner that appeared behind Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln during his May 1, 2003, speech celebrating the end of major combat operations in Iraq and was later repeated by the president; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's reaction that "stuff happens" in reference to reports of looting in Baghdad following the invasion; Rumsfeld's description of the insurgents on June 18, 2003, as nothing more than "pockets of dead-enders," and Vice President Dick Cheney's statement on June 20, 2005, that the insurgency was in its "last throes."

From McCain's remarks at the August 22 fundraiser:

McCAIN: I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifice that would be required. "Stuff happens." "Mission Accomplished." "Last throes." A few "dead-enders." I'm as -- more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we have not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be. And it has contributed enormously to the frustration that Americans feel today, because they were led to believe that this would be some kind of a day at the beach, which many of us fully understood from the beginning would be a very, very difficult undertaking.

From the August 24 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Why did he [McCain] come out this week and say the president failed by not giving us a good, earnest look at how tough it was going to be?

GILLESPIE: Well, I don't know that he said "the president." I think he said the people thought it was going to be easier than it was. People did think it was going to be easier than it was. I thought it was going to be easier than it was.

MATTHEWS: Who are these people that told you it was going to be easy?

GILLESPIE: Well, at the time, there was analysis from generals and --

MATTHEWS: The Iraqi National Congress -- I mean, who was telling you this? The emigres -- the emigre community. Who was saying -- it seems to me, you know -- you know history. You studied history. What country is easily occupied? All countries resist outsiders.

GILLESPIE: Sure, of course they do, but I think there was a sense that the Iraqi people would more quickly and readily embrace, you know, a Iraqi, free government.

MATTHEWS: Looking back do you think that was smart, to think that?

GILLESPIE: Looking back, I would say that we went back and changed some of our intelligence-gathering mechanisms and information-sharing so that we will be more accurate in the future in our -- in such assessments.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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