Saturday, December 09, 2006

... the way forward... Dobbs: blather in this country

Priceless read:

DOBBS: Barack Obama, President Bush, Tony Blair. I mean, is there any end to the blather in this country on the part of our elected officials and visiting dignitaries?

DOBBS: Well, to say the least, it's been quite a week for the Bush administration. And with that, let me turn to our panel of analysts, experts and the finest folks here. Robert Zimmerman, he is a Democratic strategist, Democratic National Committee member; and Michael Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, New York Daily News and Ed Rollins, former White House political director, Republican strategist. It's good to have you back.


DOBBS: Let me begin with you. What in the world would you tell the Bush White House if they were to listen to you or to anyone else?

ROLLINS: I wouldn't panic over the Baker report. I think it's a good assessment of what is wrong. The solutions, obviously, have to come from the new secretary of defense and the new congress. And I think that's what has to basically lay out the solutions.

You know, the 79 suggestions that the commission made are all fine. But the bottom line is they're not going to be held accountable. And most of them won't work in the end. And certainly not all of them together will work.

I object, personally, to sitting down with Syria and Iran -- and I think until they make some concessions. I think the generals ought to have say what we do with our troops. I don't like the idea of having our troops pull back and then basically say OK, some of you get to go in there and be with the Iraqis who aren't fighting well. I think we put them at great risk. And I don't want to put anybody at risk.

DOBBS: That's the point if you're one of those -- one of those troops, one of our troops being asked to do that, you might be saying if it weren't for the honor of the thing.

ROLLINS: We don't let our troops go in under U.N. command. I sure as hell wouldn't want to go in under Iraqi control. And I think that's a very important point.

DOBBS: I think a good test would be when you -- when American journalists are embedding with Iraqi units rather than American. It might be a more palatable approach.

Michael, your thoughts.

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, I think what's interesting, what has emerged, I think is Robert Gates really is much more in sync with the Iraq study group than the president is or the outgoing secretary of defense obviously.

So I think now we're going to have a test of wills and a test of real challenges for the president, which -- and I think he's right to take a couple of weeks as your report suggested. He's going to have a series of meetings and try to come to some conclusion before Christmas. I think that's the only course...

DOBBS: I think that a deliberative time is certainly appropriate. But this war has gone on longer than World War II. We're coming up on an ugly anniversary, the fourth year of the conflict.


DOBBS: For this Iraq study group to have taken eight months to come forward with this report does not smack of to me of great urgency and certainly not the urgency that's required when -- I mean 608 of our troops died, were killed in that period of time.

GOODWIN: Right. I mean, the truth is, though, that none of the ideas are revolutionary. They've all been out there.

DOBBS: That's another issue.

GOODWIN: So what they've done is that put them on the table in a public way they can't be ignored. I think that's the real contribution here.

DOBBS: Although, it does sound like President Bush might ignore them.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that's what's really revolutionary. For the first time we have a factual analysis done that's going to force the White House to deal with the reality. That by itself is a revolution.

And I think, you know, this is not just a study. This is the first and only bipartisan study that's been done. I think what's most significant about it is the fact that they are recognizing the need for regional solution and in fact, are showing the diplomatic authority to recognize the importance of bringing trying to show Iran why it's in their interests to come to the table.

DOBBS: If we may, let's talk about that diplomatic geopolitical maturity. If I may, Jeanne Moos did a wonderful report on language being used by this administration and by the Iraqi study group. And if we could, let's move to the way forward as it were with Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When those pesky reporters start asking those f-word questions...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you capable of admitting your failures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you acknowledge that your approach has failed?

MOOS: It's time to tell them to look forward, not back.


MOOS: In one answer alone, President Bush used the phrase five times.

BUSH: The way forward in Iraq. An important way forward. Talk about the way forward. Analyze the way forward.

MOOS: Apparently, the way forward is contagious. Tony Blair caught it standing next to President Bush.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The way forward. How do we will find the right way forward. We've got to get the right way forward.

MOOS: You could blame it on the Iraq study group for naming one of the sections in the report the way forward.

Even Democrats like to go forward. Senator Barack Obama's big foreign policy speech was titled "A Way Forward in Iraq," while Senator Joe Biden called his it, "Iraq: A Way Forward."

(on camera): But watch out, the phrase the way forward tends to surface when things are complete utter total mess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call our plan the way forward.

MOOS (voice-over): That's the head of ford motor company announcing a restructuring that would cut 25,000 jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way forward contains some strong medicine.

MOOS: But which way is forward? Wondered Forbes magazine when the plan to move forward seemed stuck.

You might as well get used to hearing the administration's new mantra.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: A way forward. The new way forward. What he sees as the new way forward.

MOOS: He also uses variations of the phrase.

BUSH: Go forward. Go forward. I'm heading back.

MOOS: Nah, that's no policy reversal, just the president heading back to pick a questioner.

All this forward motion...

BLAIR: A different way forward, whatever way forward.

BUSH: You know, an important way forward.

MOOS: Sort of makes you long for the days of...

BUSH: We'll stay the course.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: Robert Zimmerman, that was a true, true bipartisan effort that Jeanne Moos reported to us. A wonderful piece of reporting.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Barack Obama, President Bush, Tony Blair. I mean, is there any end to the blather in this country on the part of our elected officials and visiting dignitaries?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know that I'm an expert on blather in the country, but I'll take a stab at it.

I think it speaks to a bipartisan lack of credibility. I think that's what we have to focus on for a moment.

DOBBS: This is where you deserve the fist.

ROGERS: I don't think we should get too worked up. I mean, the idea that this group, which is really a Washington dinner party group -- and they're all great Americans and they've all served their country well -- but the idea that Vernon Jordan and Jimmy Baker could get together and be called bipartisan is absurd. I mean, it's just -- there's 10 people who wanted to come to a consensus and they made a lot of compromises. But when it gets to be bipartisan is when the Congress and the president can sit down and say, this is the game and this is the goals.

DOBBS: But what does it say about this country when you hear intelligent people start this nonsense, way forward. It becomes the mantra and lexicon of current political thinking and articulation.

GOODWIN: Well, Lou...

DOBBS: We're talking about men and women being killed in Iraq, Americans dying. And it takes eight months for this? And then we are treated to this kind of palpable nonsense?

GOODWIN: I think when you read the report, it is stunning how bad things are. And I'm reading Thomas Ricks' book called "Fiasco."

DOBBS: Absolutely.

GOODWIN: Which, I mean, you put these things side by side, it is the most distressing and depressing body of work. And I think that the problem...

DOBBS: Wait a minute. We're Americans. We can't be distressed and depressed. We've got our men and women dying in Iraq.

GOODWIN: Well, I am over Iraq. I am over Iraq, and I think that the way forward is just simply a euphemism for we don't know where we're going, we don't know what we're doing, but give us a little more time.

ZIMMERMAN: Think about the American psyche. In 72 hours, we've gone from the president's rhetoric to saying we are winning and making progress to now the prediction -- now acknowledging that we are in dire straits, with weeks or days before this is totally unworkable.

GOODWIN: The president's coming closer, but he hasn't said it quite that frankly yet.

ROGERS: And the most telling part of this report -- the most telling part of this report is they went to Iraq once. Six of the 10 members. Only one member could leave the green zone, and that was Chuck Robb who was a former Marine and was willing to do it.

DOBBS: And Laura Ingraham pointed out that Chuck Robb the other day was that -- was giving him credit. Not enough people are. Glad you did, Senator Robb, former Senator Robb deserves our credit for that.

ROGERS: Yes, indeed.

DOBBS: And you gentlemen deserve credit for being here. We thank you very much. Ed, Michael, Robert, thank you.

"the way forward" iraqi study group

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