Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Obama "Bashe[d] Bush" During Libya Speech


Following President Obama's national address on the crisis in Libya, the right-wing media has complained that he "bashe[d] Bush" by referencing the Iraq war, with Fox & Friends going so far as to suggest that Obama's reference was gratuitous because "nobody" is comparing Libya to Iraq. In fact, Obama made no mention of Bush and cited Iraq as an illustration of what could happen "[i]f we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force"; additionally, Fox & Friends itself has pushed comparisons of Libya to Iraq.

Right-Wing Media Complain Obama "Bashe[d] Bush" During Libya Speech

NRO: Obama's "Dig At President Bush, In Particular, Was Gratuitous." In a March 29 post on National Review Online, James Carafano wrote:

The worst part of the speech was the cheap political shots. His dig at President Bush, in particular, was gratuitous. "Regime change [in Iraq] took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya," Obama said.

This could become a statement the president comes to regret as much as the "Mission Accomplished" banner draped on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln when Bush declared the "end of hostilities." Before he takes a bow, he ought to be sure he can deliver on this tall order. [National Review Online, 3/29/11]

Fox Nation: "Obama Bashes Bush, Says Libya Not Iraq." On March 28, Fox Nation linked to a Politico article under the headline, "Obama Bashes Bush, Says Libya Not Iraq." From the Fox Nation:

Fox Nation Iraq Libya

[Fox Nation, 3/28/11]

Carlson: Has "The President Gone Back To Blaming Bush?" On the March 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased an upcoming story on Obama's speech by asking if "the president [has] gone back to blaming Bush?" She continued, "The bizarre blasting of his predecessor during last night's speech -- did you hear it? It had to do with Iraq." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]

Kilmeade: "President Obama Using Last Night's Address To Slam President Bush...Was That Necessary?" Later on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed "President Obama us[ed] last night's address to slam President Bush." After playing a clip from the address, Kilmeade asked: "But is his war in Libya really any different than Iraq? And was that necessary? We'll explain." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]

Carlson: "Were You Surprised At The Fact That He Blasted President Bush? That's When I Sat Straight Up In Bed." Carlson later previewed a clip of the address by asking "were you surprised at the fact that he blasted President Bush? That's when I sat up straight in bed, as I was taking notes, and said, 'Oh, my goodness. He's going back to this.' " Carlson later claimed it was his "most emphatic" line of the address. From Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: I think he deliberately wanted to once again look and tell the American people that he is not President Bush. That this Libyan mission is not going to be anything like Iraq in case anyone was considering it might be. He was the most emphatic with that line than he was about anything else in the entire speech of 26 minutes. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]

But Obama Was Simply Explaining Why "Regime Change" Would Not Work In Libya

Obama: "We Are Hopeful About Iraq" But Can't "Afford To Repeat" Regime Change Policy In Libya. In his address to the nation, Obama explained that although "we are hopeful about Iraq's future," the policy of regime change "is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya." From President Obama's address to the nation:

Of course, there is no question that Libya -- and the world -- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces -- to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -- carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It's also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq's future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya. [White House, 3/28/11]

Doocy Claims No "Serious People" Compared Libya To Iraq, But Fox & Friends Previously Pushed "Obama's Iraq" Attack

Doocy: "I Don't Know Any Serious People That Thinks We're Heading Down The Road That We Took In Iraq." On Fox & Friends, after the co-hosts repeatedly asked if Obama's Iraq reference "was...necessary," co-host Steve Doocy said, "So what is he doing [by referencing Iraq]? He's saying, look, I had two choices: Either do nothing and there would have been atrocities and a humanitarian catastrophe, or we would have gone down the same road as we did in Iraq. I mean, I don't know any serious people who really think we were headed down the road that we took in Iraq. There were 150,000 American service personnel who were boots on the ground there. Nobody is suggesting that." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]

Morris And Perino Agree: Libya Is "Another Iraq" But With "Less Planning." On the March 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dick Morris claimed "Bush spent the entire Iraq war trying to convince people it wasn't another Vietnam, and now Obama is spending this war trying to convince people it's not another Iraq...But of course it is another Iraq. It's the same situation, it's the same kind of situation." Guest host Dana Perino responded, "Except for with less planning." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/23/11]

Johnson: "We Have To See Whether This Becomes President Obama's Iraq...Is This Really A Few Days?" On the March 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest host Alisyn Camerota brought on Fox News Legal Analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. to discuss whether or not the lead-up to the air strikes in Libya were like "what President Bush went through in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq." From the show:

CAMEROTA: With coalition air strikes pounding targets in Libya, President Obama is now coming under fire for taking military action because he did not ask for congressional approval beforehand. So isn't this what President Bush went through in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq? And are there other similarities? Joining us now is Fox News analyst Peter Johnson Jr.

JOHNSON, JR.: Good morning, hi. It's developing now, Ali. And we have to see whether this becomes President Obama's Iraq. You know, we recall Colin Powell going to the United Nations talking about weapons of mass destruction, and then the announcement by President Bush that there was going to be an invasion, and then the invasion of Iraq itself. So when I looked at Tomahawk missiles being fired over the weekend, I said, is this, in fact, the new Iraq? And so, what the United States is now pursuing is a policy called "R2P."

CAMEROTA: What's that?

JOHNSON, JR.: Responsibility to protect. It was passed in the United Nations in 2005. And we believe that we have a humanitarian mission in the world to go forward and protect people who are victims of genocide or atrocities or victimization by their non-sovereign governments. But it creates issues. Has the president complied with the war powers act of 1973 in terms of consultation? Are we entering into a quagmire here that we can't get out of? Is this really a few days?

CAMEROTA: The president has said it really will just be a few days. But President Bush thought it was going to be short-lived as well in Iraq, as you remember.

Johnson also falsely claimed that "the American people are not really for this intervention." In fact, a CNN poll published on March 21 shows that 70 percent of Americans now support "the U.S. and other countries attempting to establish a 'no-fly' zone." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/21/11, CNN.com, 3/21/11]

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