Conservative media figures, including Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, have attacked both the members of the Iraq Study Group and its report: Kristol has called the report “an evasion” and “not a serious document”; Limbaugh asserted that ISG members are “doing everything they can to unite the American people” in “defeat” and “surrender”; while Beck has called the ISG report “Operation White Flag.”
Following the release of the Iraq Study Group's (ISG) recommendations on December 6, conservative media figures attacked both the members of the ISG and its 100-page report, which presents 79 proposals for a stable Iraq.
On the December 6 edition of Fox News Live, immediately following the release of the report, Weekly Standard editor and Fox News political analyst William Kristol dismissed it as “an evasion” and repeatedly called it “not a serious document.” Kristol also described himself as “angry” after “read[ing] through” the report “because it's ... deeply irresponsible.” Kristol warned Fox News host E.D. Hill that “if we follow the recommendations of this report, we would lose the war.”
On the December 6 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh said he “wanted to puke” while listening to ISG members discussing their recommendations, “especially Sandra Day O'Connor.” Limbaugh further asserted that the “Iraq Surrender Group” was "[l]ike the new Castrati," and that ISG members are “doing everything they can to unite the American people” in “defeat” and “surrender.”
On the December 7 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck called the report “Operation White Flag.” Beck also complained that "[n]one" of the ISG members has “any real experience in fighting a war.” Contrary to Beck's assertion, however, former Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-VA) served in active combat duty during the Vietnam War.
As Media Matters for America noted, in the December 7 New York Post, columnist Ralph Peters compared ISG co-chair and former Secretary of State James Baker III (R) to the biblical figure Pontius Pilate, who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Peters wrote: “The difference is that Pilate just wanted to wash his hands of an annoyance, while Baker would wash his hands in the blood of our troops.” Peters claimed: “Baker resembles Pontius Pilate in wanting those bedeviling local problems to go away and in imagining that, by caving in to unjust local powerbrokers, he can safeguard the empire's interests.”
The cover of the December 7 New York Post depicted the heads of Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), the ISG co-chair, placed on the bodies of monkeys, with the headline, “Surrender Monkeys -- Iraq panel urges U.S. to give up.”
From the December 7 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: Coming up tonight from Omaha, Nebraska, former President Jimmy Carter may be a nice guy, but has he totally lost his mind? Plus, the Iraq Study Group recommends a new course of action in Iraq. I like to call it “Operation White Flag.” Next.
BECK: All right, welcome to “The Real Story.” Earlier in the show, we started talking about the Iraq Study Group's report, but aside from the two guys who the committee is named after, Baker and Hamilton, do you really know who's behind this report? The real story tonight is that, if you want to understand their recommendations, you have got to understand, not only how they formed them, but who's responsible for them.
Here is a list of the other eight group members: There's Lawrence Eagleburger, Vernon Jordan, Ed Meese, Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon Panetta, William Perry, Charles Robb, and Alan Simpson. Now, that is a lot of really, really smart people, smarter -- far smarter than I am. But what do they all have in common with me? None of us have “former general” after our name. None of these people have any real experience in fighting a war.
From Peters' December 7 New York Post column:
In the end, the biblical figure who best reflects Jim Baker doesn't come from the Nativity sequence, but from the end of the Gospels: Baker resembles Pontius Pilate in wanting those bedeviling local problems to go away and in imagining that, by caving in to unjust local powerbrokers, he can safeguard the empire's interests.
The difference is that Pilate just wanted to wash his hands of an annoyance, while Baker would wash his hands in the blood of our troops.
From the December 6 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: You know what this document -- this document's not -- it's not even a military document! It has nothing -- there's nothing in it about winning the war! This is, as we thought, as the leak suggested, there's nothing in here about winning the war! There's just -- it's -- to me, you know what this document is? These commission members, the ones I heard -- especially Sandra Day O'Connor -- boy, I wanted to puke!
LIMBAUGH: See? See, ladies and gentlemen? Its value is that it's bipartisan, and they're attempting to achieve consensus, like the new Castrati. And they're doing everything they can to unite the American people -- in what? -- unite the American people in defeat; unite the American people in surrender -- the “Iraq Surrender Group;” unite the American people in getting out of there.
From the December 6 edition of Fox News Live:
HILL: Well, I tell you what, that was actually a whole lot more open and direct than I expected. Let's bring in the editor of The Weekly Standard and Fox News political analyst, Bill Kristol. And it didn't matter whether it was a Republican or a Democrat talking, they sounded like they were answering the questions as they got them -- no hemmin' and hawin'.
KRISTOL: Yeah, but the report does not explain how to win the war. I mean, Major Garrett pointed out, E.D., that the word victory doesn't appear in the report and, at least in the executive summary and in much of the rest of the report, the word war does not appear, and I think the report's basically an evasion. I've now read through most of it. It is not serious about the fact that we're fighting a war there. And either we're going to win it, or we're going to extricate ourselves from it. And I think if we follow the recommendations of this report, we would lose the war. That is the bottom line.
HILL: But it certainly sounds like they came up with a variety of options, and you can make the argument that all of these options have been brought up before, but they were -- it sounded more like a summary of what's been talked about out there and the pros and the cons.
KRISTOL: No, but they really do make recommendations, E.D., and they dismiss the other options in four pages. It's not a serious document. People really should go read this report. They're all charming guys, and it's nice that they're happy they've reached a consensus -- charming guys and a charming woman -- it's nice they've reached a consensus and everyone would like to have a consensus -- it is not a serious document.
They discuss the alternatives of trying to win the war with more troops or of getting out much more quickly, both of which are serious alternatives actually, in three pages, one paragraph each. This is not a serious intellectual document. It doesn't -- we're in a war, and there's no discussion of military strategy -- very general discussion of hoping that if we embed trainers, the Iraqi army can get up to speed. But if we are in a crisis, the Iraqi army is not going to get up to speed in the next few months, and that's the timeframe we're looking at.
So, I'm very -- I had -- I did not have high expectations for this report but, in all honesty, having read through it, I'm now in a way more angry because it's a deeply irresponsible report, I think.