O'Reilly admitted to “pushing the goalposts further back” on Iraq

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On the January 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, while defending President Bush's plan to send an additional force of 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq, host Bill O'Reilly was accused by a guest of “pushing the goalposts further back” concerning Iraq, to which O'Reilly replied: “And I do. And I do push it back because it's that important.”

O'Reilly declared that the Iraqis have “six months and that's it” to “stop killing each other.” Newsday columnist Ellis Henican pointed out that O'Reilly "said that 18 months ago, and 12 months ago ... and six months ago," adding, "[Y]ou keep pushing the goalposts further back." Henican then concluded that O'Reilly would “have been better off if you'd listened to me,” to which O'Reilly replied, “I would commit suicide if I listened to you. ... I'd be Jonestown!" Henican then noted that O'Reilly “would not be in the embarrassing position of sitting here and saying ... 'Please give me another chance. Please, another chance.' ” In response, O'Reilly labeled Henican “a defeatist,” adding that Henican “would give up, and I'm not willing to do that right now. ... You would surrender.” Henican later stated: “No more goalpost-moving, Mr. O'Reilly. Six months, you're with me on this -- six months,” and suggested that O'Reilly “save the tape. We'll play it.”

From the January 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, which included O'Reilly, Henican, and Democratic strategist Laura Schwartz:

HENICAN: Let's take these things one war at a time, if you don't mind. The case of Iraq: this thing is getting worse, not better. There's no evidence --


HENICAN: -- that this is going to work and the surge -- three previous surges have already failed --

O'REILLY: You may be right, Mr. Quaker --

HENICAN: I am right.

SCHWARTZ: You know what? Our troops are on their way over there.

O'REILLY: You might be right.

HENICAN: I am right.

O'REILLY: You may be right.

HENICAN: And you're going to say this --

O'REILLY: You don't know whether you're right or not. Give 'em the chance, and it's only a few months' window.

HENICAN: You know what, for such a tough guy --

SCHWARTZ: Just a few months?

O'REILLY: Be -- you give beyond a reasonable doubt.

HENICAN: For such a tough guy, you have an awful lot of patience when something keeps going wrong, my friend.

O'REILLY: I don't have that much patience.

HENICAN: A lot of patience.

O'REILLY: I'm a little discouraged --


O'REILLY: -- here, but you know why I'm saying what I said? And you both should understand this, because when I was over there, I asked more than 100 of our soldiers and Marines, do you believe in this cause? Should we be doing this? Is it worth one last try? And 90 percent of them said yes.

HENICAN: You know, the best thing --

SCHWARTZ: The problem is what that try is. Is it military only, or is it political and diplomatic, as well?

O'REILLY: Oh, look -- that's all BS.

SCHWARTZ: I think everybody wants to win and everybody wants another try --

O'REILLY: Iraqi's are going to be -- Iraq -- we can't afford --

SCHWARTZ: -- it's how they do that try.

O'REILLY: No, that's wrong. We can't force these people to stop killing each other.

HENICAN: You're right.

O'REILLY: We can't --

SCHWARTZ: Hmm-mm. Yeah.

HENICAN: You're right.

O'REILLY: -- so they're either going to do it, or they're not, but now, they know. Now, they know.

HENICAN: OK, but it --

SCHWARTZ: Or we can either be in the middle of it or not.

O'REILLY: They've got six months and that's it.

SCHWARTZ: Is that it? Six months -- done. And then we're done?

HENICAN: At every step of the way -- I mean, we've had this -- you and I have been down this, because you said that 18 months ago and 12 months ago --

O'REILLY: That's right.

HENICAN: -- and six months ago --

O'REILLY: And they haven't stepped up.

HENICAN: -- and you keep -- you keep pushing the goalposts further back.

O'REILLY: And I do. And I do push it back because it's that important.

SCHWARTZ: And six months from now --

HENICAN: And each and every --

O'REILLY: It's that important.

HENICAN: -- each and every time, Bill O'Reilly, you'd have been better off if you'd listened to me.

O'REILLY: No, I would --

HENICAN: You would've. You would've.

O'REILLY: I would commit suicide if I listened to you.

HENICAN: No, you wouldn't be in the embarrassing --

O'REILLY: I'd be Jonestown!

HENICAN: You would not be in the embarrassing position of sitting here and saying --

O'REILLY: Stop, embarrassing --

HENICAN: -- “Please give me another chance. Please, another chance.”

O'REILLY: He's asking -- look, you're a defeatist.


O'REILLY: You would give up, and I'm not willing to do that right now.

HENICAN: I don't want -- I don't want --

O'REILLY: You would surrender.

HENICAN: No, no, no. I never said surrender.

O'REILLY: You told on the radio you wouldn't fight Iran over nukes.

HENICAN: I never said surrender. What I said --

O'REILLY: C'mon.

HENICAN: -- is let's do this thing smart. You and the president keep doing it wrong.

O'REILLY: All right, let Laura have the last word here.

SCHWARTZ: Well, you know what, George Bush wants one last try and he's going to get it because there's not much more the --

O'REILLY: Of course, he's going to get it. Right.

SCHWARTZ: -- the Congress can do but let him, you know. But, at least, this way, they can do an up or down vote on whether they support the escalation or not. You're going to see some break within his own party as well as the Democrats voting against the escalation --

O'REILLY: But you would give him the chance -- you, Laura Schwartz.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, I would --

O'REILLY: So would I.

SCHWARTZ: -- because there's nothing else he can do.

O'REILLY: It's that important.

SCHWARTZ: Hands are tied -- with money, with troops.

O'REILLY: And if we fail in Iraq, OK, then we should have exhausted all measures and I think this will be it. I think everybody --

SCHWARTZ: It's just sad that another soldier's probably going to die.

HENICAN: No more goalpost-moving, Mr. O'Reilly. Six months, you're with me on this -- six months.

SCHWARTZ: End date.

HENICAN: Six months.

O'REILLY: Can I hire someone to just -- no I can't --

HENICAN: Save the tape --

O'REILLY: All right. Next on the rundown --

HENICAN: -- save the tape. We'll play it --

O'REILLY: Laura Ingraham -- that's who I'm going to get -- I'm going to put Laura Ingraham on you!