CNN's Blitzer ignores possible political motives in McCain's call for more troops
Research ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY
On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked whether Sen. John McCain's call for more troops is "a Profiles in Courage kind of statement," adding that McCain deserves "credit" for his statement because "he totally believes that the United States does not have enough troops in Iraq right now." But Blitzer ignored the possible political motives behind McCain's proposal.
On the December 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked if Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) call for more troops in Iraq is "a Profiles in Courage kind of statement." Blitzer also asserted that "[y]ou gotta give [McCain] credit" for his statement because "he totally believes that the United States does not have enough troops in Iraq right now."
Blitzer's suggestion that McCain is showing courage and his assertion that McCain deserves "credit" appear to be based on his claim that McCain "totally believes" in sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, which is "not necessarily a very popular statement." Democratic strategist James Carville responded: "I think what he's hoping is that it helps him because he can say it and he knows it's not going to happen." Carville's statement echoes comments by National Public Radio senior news analyst Cokie Roberts. As Media Matters for America documented, on the November 20 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, Roberts noted that the military is unlikely to adopt McCain's proposal to increase the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by 20,000 because, she said, referring to a comment by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the "Army is so depleted." For that reason, she stated, McCain's plan is "a somewhat convenient position, because he can always say, 'No one tried to win the war the way that I suggested to win it, " adding, "I think that this is a position that is useful for Senator McCain."
As Media Matters noted, on the November 13 edition of The Situation Room, Blitzer similarly touted McCain's proposal to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq while ignoring the question of whether his plan is achievable and said of McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), "[M]any would regard them [as] a little bit of mavericks."
From the December 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: You gotta give him credit, though, James. He's a -- he's a -- he totally believes that the United States does not have enough troops in Iraq right now to get the job done and by suggesting sending tens of thousands of more -- not necessarily a very popular statement on his part.
CARVILLE: Well, it's not a popular statement. He knows it's not going to happen. It can't happen. Every military analyst that come up and said, "We don't have the troops." And --
BLITZER: But politically, that could hurt him by even saying that, right?
CARVILLE: Well, I think what he's hoping is that it helps him because he can say it and he knows it's not going to happen. And then he can say, "Look, I've taken the sort of unpopular point." McCain -- but to his credit, or his detriment probably, he's always wanted -- his answer to everything is "more troops." The American people don't want that. Right now, I think he's getting both sides. He's sort of saying, "Well, I'm calling for something unpopular," but he knows that it can't happen because we don't have the troops to send.
TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Human Events editor): You -- you know the truth is that if the United States is still in Iraq in 2008 and we're taking casualties there, John McCain is not going to get elected president. The Democrats are going to elect an antiwar president if that is in fact the case. I think McCain sees that something is going to have to happen in Iraq in the next few months to change the political situation there and change the equation into which U.S. troops are going or else, forget it, it's not going to happen.
CARVILLE: And what I -- what I suspect he figures is what everybody else does. It's going to end being pretty much of a disaster, and he'll be able to say, "Look, I -- I said back then the unpopular thing."
BLITZER: But is he -- but it's very unpopular including, I suspect, with a lot of Republicans right now to be calling for an increase of U.S. forces in Iraq given the vulnerability -- the dangers there. Is this a Profiles in Courage kind of statement that he's making?
JEFFREY: Well, I think -- I think McCain has definitely been consistent on the Iraq war. He's been principled. I think a lot of people have a question whether the strategy he's pursuing right now would be successful. I suspect you might see the Bush administration increase troop forces in Iraq in the short run before they begin a drawdown next year.