Tuesday, June 15, 2004

O'Reilly: "The Faster We Get Out of There, the Better"

Bill O'Reilly apologized to the nation in February for having been "wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq":
Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly says he was wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that's made him more skeptical of the Bush administration as a result.

O'Reilly, who has the top-rated political talk show on cable news, was confronted on ABC's "Good Morning America" about his statement before the Iraq war that if Saddam Hussein is overthrown and there were no such weapons found, he'd apologize to the nation.

"Well, my analysis was wrong and I'm sorry," O'Reilly told Charles Gibson on Tuesday. "I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at the time." (The Associated Press, "Bill O'Reilly Admits He Was Wrong about Iraq,' February 13, 2004)
O'Reilly has since gone further. In a speech at the Economic Club in Southwest Michigan, he said that "we should get out of there as soon as we can get the heck out of there":
He detailed what he said were the war's successes and said he believed the Bush administration had "very good intentions" going into Iraq.

He then launched into the current dilemma: Should we stay or should we go?

"We cannot baby-sit (the Iraqis)," he said to the applauding crowd. "Give them a chance, give them stability, but we should get out of there as soon as we can get the heck out of there."

He explained his position, saying, "The majority of the Iraqi people do not appreciate what we've done for them."

For that reason, O'Reilly said the U.S. military should ship out and not let another soldier die for that ungrateful nation. For good measure, he added three other reasons: the lack of weapons of mass destruction, the current Iraqi insurrection and the recent human rights violations at Abu-Ghraib prison. (emphasis added, K. Aaron van Oosterhout, "Bill O'Reilly Rips 'Open Society' in Speech at Economic Club," St. Joseph Herald Palladium [Michigan], May 24, 2004)
O'Reilly put it even more emphatically at Lake Michigan College:
Bill O'Reilly, host of the most popular prime-time cable news program, came to Lake Michigan College on Sunday afternoon to deliver his opinions about the battle in Iraq. . . .

In Iraq -- "a very heartbreaking situation'' that was entered into with "very good intentions," he said -- O'Reilly favors stabilizing the country, then leaving. The Iraqi people, who he says had an opportunity to fight for their freedom but have chosen not to do so, "have lost me.''

"I don't want one soldier dying for them ... They don't appreciate us . . . The faster we get out of there, the better," he said. "We gave them a chance like we gave the South Vietnamese people a chance."

O'Reilly was equally harsh in his opinion of what he called the "thugs" involved in the prisoner abuse scandal.

"It's awful and it embarrassed all of us, particularly the fine military people who are putting their lives on the line every day. I'm furious and I want them punished."

And he criticized those who attempt to downplay the significance of the abuse. "This is not hazing, as some on the far right would tell you. These are human rights violations." (emphasis added, Alesia I. Redding, "Fox's Bill O'Reilly Brings message to LMC; Citing U.S. Lack of Traditional Values, He Says He Doesn't Want 'an Open Society' as He Understands It," South Bend Tribune, May 24, 2004, p. A1)
The rest of both speeches consists of staples (e.g., ranting against an "open society" of "quasi-socialism," built by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, granting inalienable rights to gay marriage and pot smoking) of conservative Kulturkampf (which conservatives have already lost, the fact confirmed by their support for "civil unions": "O'Reilly said of homosexual couples: "We'll give you the full rights under the law as a married couple, but we're not gonna give you the label marriage, because that is defined as a man and a woman" [van Oosterhout, May 24, 2004]). But the very fact that O'Reilly arrived at the conclusion that "[t]he faster we get out of there, the better" based on his own conservative premise and reasoning -- America went to war with "very good intentions," and "[w]e gave them a chance like we gave the South Vietnamese people a chance," but "[t]he majority of the Iraqi people do not appreciate what we've done for them" -- is quite significant. It's an index of how unpopular the occupation of Iraq has become.

The John Kerry camp should take heart from the conclusion of the O'Reilly speech at the Economic Club -- O'Reilly all but endorsed Kerry:
He concluded the speech with a warning to the audience about the upcoming presidential election.

"This terror threat's not going to go away," he said. "Figure out who Osama (bin Laden) wants elected, and vote for the other guy. I figured it out, and it's Ralph (Nader)" that bin Laden wants elected.

Nader doesn't have any answers for public security issues, he said. (van Oosterhout, May 24, 2004)
Nader ought to wise up and realize that wooing conservatives by getting "tough on illegal immigrants" doesn't win many conservative votes and that it will only alienate leftists who do support his campaign doggedly:
PB [Pat Buchanan]: The Democrats have picked up on Bush’s amnesty idea and have proposed an amnesty for illegals who have been in the country for five years and who have shown that they have jobs and can support themselves. Would you support the Democratic proposal?

RN [Ralph Nader]: This is very difficult because you are giving a green light to cross the border illegally. I don’t like the idea of legalization because then the question is how do you prevent the next wave and the next? I like the idea of giving workers and children —- they are working, they are having their taxes withheld, they are performing a valuable service, even though they are illegally here —- of giving them the same benefits of any other workers. If that produces enough outrage to raise the immigration issue to a high level of visibility for public debate, that would be a good thing. ("Ralph Nader: Conservatively Speaking," The American Conservative, June 21, 2004)
It's impossible to defend the rights of immigrant workers as workers without defending the rights of immigrant workers as immigrants, whether immigrant workers are legal or illegal. Immigrant workers fearful of immigration raids cannot very well exercise their rights as workers.

Now that the tide of public opinion has turned against the occupation of Iraq, as O'Reilly's remarks demonstrate, leftists should turn up the heat on Nader as well, not just on Bush and Kerry, holding the only anti-occupation candidate in the race to a higher moral and political standard.

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