I stopped watching TV over 20 years ago, thank God, so I’ve been mainly a radio listener and Internet user. And I’ve been listening to talk radio since the 1970s, but even that had gone downhill since the days of Jerry Williams, Gene Burns, Larry Glick and David Brudnoy. But now in my area there are a couple more radio stations to add to the insufferable WRKO, and the two FM NPR news/talk stations.
One of the new stations is Bloomberg 1200 which carries just about the same programming as Bloomberg’s 1130 in New York, which I’ve heard since the mid-1990s. So, while I don’t watch TV, now I do get to hear Fox News Sunday on this new radio station. Yesterday I heard Chris Wallace interview Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for U.S. President.
Now, while I have plenty of criticism for Rubio for being a chickenhawk warmonger and an ignoramus promoter of repealing due process, my criticism here is for Chris Wallace. At one point in the interview, Wallace asked Rubio if it was a mistake to go to war against Iraq in 2003, “given what we know now.” Rubio was trying to answer that it was not a mistake, given the information at the time, because he didn’t seem to want to admit that given the information now, it was a mistake.
So, even though I disagree with Rubio’s defense of supporting the war in Iraq, I understand his stubborn reluctance to admit that it was a mistake, and I can understand his frustration with Wallace’s tactics. But Wallace was letting it go on and on, as though he was playing with Rubio’s reluctance to admit the war was a mistake. So, with Wallace’s manipulating and obvious teasing (obvious to me, anyway), it seemed as though Wallace was acting as a political strategist for the Democrats. (Wait a minute, they’re ALL political strategists for the Democrats, including George Snuffleupagus!) But the argument and confusion seemed to go on for hours, which should have been better controlled had Wallace been a more “objective” news journalist as these network news people supposedly are, in my view. I don’t think he would be questioning Hillary Clinton in this way. Here’s the dialogue on that part of the discussion from the transcript:
WALLACE: This brings us back to Iraq and the question of the week, which is, given what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq back in 2003?
As we all know, Jeb Bush had a tough time answering that this week.
Here’s what you’ve had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a mistake to go to war in Iraq?
RUBIO: Oh, I don’t believe it was — the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq.
MODERATOR: After finding that there were no weapons of mass destruction, would you, if you knew that, have been in favor of the Iraqi invasion?
RUBIO: Well, not only would I have not been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it. And he said so.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: Senator, isn’t that a flip?
Six weeks ago, it made sense to invade Iraq in 2003. Now you say it was a mistake.
RUBIO: No, they’re two different questions. It was not a mistake. The president, based on — this is the way the real world works. The president, based on the information that was provided to him —
WALLACE: But she was saying based on the information —
RUBIO: No, no, but, look, there’s two different —
WALLACE: She was saying based on the — what we know now.
RUBIO: Well, based on what we know now, a lot of things — based on what we know now, I wouldn’t have, you know, thought Manny Pacquiao was going to beat in — in that fight a couple of weeks ago.
WALLACE: — you got asked the same question and you said since.
RUBIO: No, that was not the same — no, that was not the same question. The question was whether it was a mistake. And my answer was it’s not a mistake. I still say it was not a mistake, because the president was presented with intelligence that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it was governed by a man who had committed atrocities in the past with weapons of mass destruction —
WALLACE: But, what she asked you was, was it a mistake to go to war with Iraq?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake given the fact that what the president knew at the time.
WALLACE: No, she didn’t say that. She just said, was it a mistake?
RUBIO: Well, that’s not the same question. The question I was asked is, what you know now? Well, based on what we know now, I think everyone agrees that we still —
WALLACE: Was it a mistake — was it a mistake to go to war with Iraq?
RUBIO: It’s two different — it wasn’t — I —
WALLACE: I’m asking you to —
RUBIO: Yes, I understand, but that’s not the same question.
WALLACE: But I’m asking — but that’s the question I’m asking you, was it a mistake to go to war?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to decide to go into Iraq, because at the time, he was told —
WALLACE: I’m not asking you that. I’m asking you —
RUBIO: In hindsight.
RUBIO: Well, the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not there.
WALLACE: So, was it a mistake or not?
RUBIO: But I wouldn’t characterize it — but I don’t understand the question you’re asking, because the president —
WALLACE: I’m asking you, knowing — as we sit here in 2015 —
RUBIO: No, but that’s not the way presidents — a president cannot make decision on what someone might know in the future.
WALLACE: I understand. But that’s what I’m asking you. Was it a mistake?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to go into Iraq based on the information he was provided as president.
Today, we know of their — if we — if the president had known that there were no weapons of mass destruction at the time, you still would have had to deal with Saddam Hussein. But the process would have been different. I doubt very seriously that the president would have gotten, for example, congressional approval to move forward with an invasion had they known there were no weapons of mass destruction.
That doesn’t mean he made the wrong decision, because at the time he was presented with intelligence —
WALLACE: I understand that, but —
RUBIO: — that said there are weapons of mass destruction. He wasn’t dealing with a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was dealing with Saddam Hussein. And he made the right decision based on the information he had at that time.
We’ve learned subsequently that that information was wrong and my answer was — well, if at the time it would have been apparent that the intelligence was wrong, I don’t think George Bush would have moved forward on the invasion and he certainly wouldn’t have had Congressional approval.
But presidents don’t have the benefit of hindsight. You have to make difficult decisions based on the information that’s before you at that moment.
WALLACE: When we come back, more of our exclusive interview with 2016 Republican candidate Marco Rubio.
Now, had Wallace been interviewing Hillary Clinton, would he have let it go on and on like that? Or would he have just let her give the typical pol answer and let that be the end of it? Am I way off on this?