RUSH: Well, Senator McCain, who some are calling Senator McCrazy, Senator McCain is back. He’s sucking up to the Drive-By Media and taking cheap shots at President Bush. He was in Ohio yesterday campaigning for and with Senator Mike DeWine, said this at a news conference.
MCCAIN: I think one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifice that would be required. “Stuff happens. Mission accomplished. Last throes. Few dead-enders.” I’m more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.
RUSH: I’m going to go back. I have a quote here from President Bush on April 28th of 2003. May I read that quote to you? “Iraq can be an example of peace and prosperity and freedom to the entire Middle East. It will be a hard journey. But at every step of the way, Iraq will have a steady friend in the American people.” I am not aware of the president — well, I’m not aware of myself ever thinking this was going to be a cakewalk, and I’m not aware of the administration making the case. I think that mission accomplished banner on board the aircraft carrier, some could say that was misleading, but the mission at that time was accomplished. That was getting rid of Saddam. The war in Iraq actually was quite successful and didn’t take very long. It is the aftermath, the quest for peace, so to speak, that is taking a long time. I don’t think the president misled anybody about it. Anyway, here is what McCain wanted. He wanted coverage on all the evening news, the cable channels, Drive-By Media adulation. McCain, McCain, McCain, McCain, and he got it. Here’s a montage.
BILL PLANTE: Senator McCain says that the administration misled the public about the war, led the public to think it would be a day at the beach.
ROBIN ROBERTS: War of words. Senator John McCain comes out swinging, accusing the president of misleading the American people, making them think it would be some kind of day at the beach. Tough talk.
BOB SCHIEFFER: McCain ripped into the administration for painting too rosy a picture and trying to lead the American people into believing the war was some kind of day at the beach.
HANNAH STORM: President Bush faces tough criticism, and this comes from a key supporter, Republican Senator John McCain.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: McCain blamed the Bush administration for leading the American people to believe the war in Iraq would be a day at the beach.
DEBORAH ROBERTS: Senator John McCain is turning up the volume on his criticism of the war in Iraq.
BILL WEIR: McCain blasted top Bush officials for painting too rosy a picture in the war. Tough talk.
CHARLIE GIBSON: One very prominent member of the GOP.
WOLF BLITZER: Strong words from John McCain.
PAUL BEGALA: John McCain has not simply been a cheerleader. He has told people a lot more of the truth.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Senator John McCain hit the administration hard. Could it be a revival of the Straight Talk Express?
RUSH: (Panting). That was our old friend Claire Shipman at ABC, panting away — (panting) — are we going to get the Straight Talk Express back? This is why Senator McCain is going to have trouble in the Republican primaries. He is appealing to the base instincts of the Drive-By Media. The Republican primary voters have no love for the Drive-By Media. Anybody pandering to the Drive-By Media is not somebody the Republican base is going to be excited about. Then you add to that the fact that McCain, in pandering to the Drive-By Media, had to go out and attack the administration on an area in which the administration shows its strongest suit. The American people are behind — well, the Republican base, let’s just stick with them — very much behind the president in this whole effort. In fact, USA Today had this poll out yesterday that confirmed something that I’ve been thinking about for the longest time. Poll has his approval rating back up to 42%.
According to the poll, the reason the approval number is up is that the American people loved the response to recent attempted acts of terrorism, illustrating one of my theories that over the course of these recent months where his approval numbers have been in the mid- to high thirties, it’s not because people disapprove per se of the way Bush is doing this or doing that. It’s because they wish people would — Republicans, anyway, in the poll wish he would do more, project US power, go in and kick butt and show the world what we’re capable of and end this thing with a stunning victory. And with the polls shooting up to over 40%, 42% in USA Today, I think that view tends to be validated. Now, in all fairness, and I want to mention this to you in conjunction with Senator McCain’s pandering to the Drive-By Media and criticizing this administration for its words about the war in Iraq, ABC last night had a very rare positive report on ABC’s World News Tonight. Charles Gibson reported encouraging news from Baghdad.
“The decision was made to redeploy thousands of US troops from the Baghdad area, from other areas of Iraq to secure the city and reduce the number of daily attacks. Well, the numbers are preliminary, but it seems to be working. After two weeks, Iraqi authorities say that the number of violent attacks has gone down by 30%. ABC reporters said by saturating some of the most dangerous neighborhoods, they have reduced violence across Baghdad by almost a third. US figures calculated differently show a 22% drop. Either way, the Americans are fired up. I quote Lieutenant Patrick Patterson of the 114th Cavalry who says, yeah, it’s been great, we got a lot of smiles, we got a lot of waves. Still despite the positive tone, ABC’s McCarthy concluded hope has often gone sour in Iraq. If they can’t make their open peace, America’s success in Baghdad could quickly be reversed.” Well, that’s the formulaic balance that the media has to put in.
All kinds of great news, but, just so we’re fair, it could all go to hell in a hand basket in the next five minutes. So on the day Senator McCain goes out and is critical in order to get this loving, slavish attention from the Drive-By Media, the news out of Iraq is pretty good. It’s almost the same kind of thing that happens to Democrats, opening the door right into their noses and so forth. And this, as I say, was reported on ABC’s World News Tonight last night.
RUSH: Amy, Louisville, Open Line Friday on Wednesday. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Mega dittos from another Rush baby.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: I just had a comment, quick comment on Senator McCain, what he said. I’m a military wife, and my husband went over to Iraq as soon as the war ended, as soon as Saddam fell, and I don’t feel misled at all. He told me, my husband told me before he went over there that this would be the hard part, not the actual war itself but the stabilization.
CALLER: And I personally have not heard President Bush say anything but it’s going to be a tough road.
RUSH: You know, look, the libs are trying to make a big case out of this, that Bush lied. The theme is Bush lied, so when you have the banner that says Mission Accomplished, Bush lied. When Cheney says the insurgency is in its last throes, Cheney lied. What?s continually troubling about this is Senator McCain’s pandering to the Drive-By Media at the expense of his own party, and his own president. On the one hand, he’s very supportive of the president, very supportive of the war. On the other hand, he thinks Rumsfeld ought to go, because that fits and dovetails right with where the Drive-By Media is on Rumsfeld. To come out and say that the American people were misled on this, why don’t you tell us this at the beginning, senator?
When the president said what he said or said what you thought he said or when Cheney said what he said, why didn’t you stop what you were doing and stand up and say, “Wait a minute, I don’t think this is right, the American people need to be told something else.” You come in after the fact with armchair quarterbacking and 20/20 hindsight like anybody can do, but we played for you the montage there, folks, of all the coverage McCain got and that’s what he was angling for. If he thinks that this is going to help him with the Republican base, I mean he’s sadly, sadly mistaken. Marty in Washington, you’re next, nice to have you on the program.
CALLER: Oh, thanks, Rush, it’s a pleasure. Listen, everything you’re saying about McCain is right. He was a complete jerk and an idiot for saying what he did when he did, but you know now that the elephant is on the table, I have felt this way for a long time. I mean, since I saw those buildings five years ago go down on the TV set, is that I did not understand why in the ensuing days and in the past five years the president hasn’t beat the living daylights out of this to tell people this is going to be hard. It just hasn’t come across. I don’t know that the fault is his, I think it is to a great degree or certainly as you point out the media, traditional media’s got its own template on this thing. But I mean this is like Democrats are so much smarter than Republicans, their PR thing, they always prepare you for the worst, this is going to have to be a horrible sacrifice. If Bush had done that when he had the political capital in the last five years and just hammered that, hammered that home over and over again and how desperately we need for our security to have a democracy in Iraq, I don’t think he’d be having the poll numbers that he does. And again, you know, McCain was an idiot for doing it, but he’s just saying something that probably everybody in the Republican Party knows.
RUSH: Well, my memory is that when it comes to the entire war on terror, which I’ve always considered Iraq to be part of, I think the president has gone out of the way to talk about how long this is going to take, that it’s going to go on longer than his administration. Now, if you separate the two and think Iraq is different, which is what many of the president’s opponents do and say it’s just an isolated little campaign over there that has no relationship to the war on terror, then you could say, yeah, the president has come out and specifically said — he has a couple times, I gave you one quote from 2003, but he said it’s going to be hard. It’s not that he hasn’t said it. Your point is he hasn’t said it enough. You know, it’s arguable. You talk about the Democrats having great PR by telling people how rotten things are going to be. I don’t know that that’s great PR. I don’t think it’s, you know, a great way to boost morale of the fighting forces that are over there at the same time.
CALLER: Well, that’s just it. He’s been great as far as boosting the morale of the troops, and maybe that’s because he’s too good of a commander-in-chief, but on the other hand the downside of that is, you know darn well when it drags on, then the public back at home, the upbeat messages just aren’t in sync with what’s going on. You know, it’s a problem. He’s too principled of a man to engage in these Democratic PR things that they always seem to win, and now we’re paying the price, we’re going to pay the price.
RUSH: Well, are they winning? On what basis are you saying they’re winning? Polling data?
CALLER: Well, I mean just polling data, that’s all.
RUSH: Wait ’til November, see if they’re winning. I reject that. I don’t think they’re winning. I think that is part of the mind-set that many conservatives had, that for 40 years the Democrats always seemed to be outsmarting us, they always seemed to be a couple steps ahead of us, their PR always seemed to be brilliant and coordinated and organized. I think they’re not winning elections these days. That party is falling apart, whether anybody wants to admit it or not. The Democrat Party is falling apart. The idea that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry and (ABSCAM scandal unindicted coconspirator) Jack Murtha represent a brilliant PR campaign and team, I reject that and I don’t fall prey to that. The one thing I do want to talk about before you go, and that is you wish the president had come out more often and more forcefully reminding the American people, “This is a worthy cause, and here’s what we’re doing, this is why it’s going to take a long time. We can’t level the country because we’re trying to establish a beacon of democracy there. We need to show the Iraqi people that we have nothing against them. We’re not gonna blow up their buildings, not gonna blow up their schools, we’re not going to level the country. And thus it’s going to take a long time. Battling a number of insurgencies and so forth, terrorist actions, and it’s a new kind of warfare.”
I would love for that to have happened as well. But more than that, I would have loved a really true American projection of power. Had there been a true American projection of power, had there really been Shock and Awe, I think the American people would have a little bit more understanding or patience for this than apparently the polls say that they have. I’m glad you called, Marty. Thanks much.