Dover Bitch

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Who's better off?

For a little Easter fun and in light of the Pope's comments that "nothing positive" is happening in Iraq, DB decided to have a little Crossfire fun at Bob Novak's expense.

NOVAK: Steve, your old candidate Howard Dean got in trouble when he that said Americans weren't necessarily safer because Saddam Hussein was captured. As a political consultant, what would you tell Senator Kerry to -- how would you advise him to answer the same question, better off or not?

STEVE MCMAHON: As a political adviser, I'd say probably you have to say what the pundits expect to you say, which is, we're all better off. As a fact, it's not true.

Which is why Novak liked to ask that stupid question. Is a hungry man better off eating a sandwich? Sure, but if he killed somebody to get it, that's not such a great development, is it? Context matters, but Novak enjoys feeling clever.

So now that his little trick's shelf life has long since expired, let's take a little walk down memory lane and see how some other people answered Novak's question. Here are a bunch of responses, in whatever order Google gave them back to me, offered without comment:

NOVAK: I just have one question I want to get in. You said you're glad he's gone. Are you -- just, can I get a straight answer? Are you sorry that we attacked Iraq at the time we did?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I wished we had attacked Iraq based on the truth. That's what it needs to be done.

NOVAK: Are you sorry that we attacked...

WEXLER: No. The United States cannot act in a unilateral way.

NOVAK: I want to ask you this. Do you think -- would you have preferred if we didn't go in and we still had -- that's the only way you're going to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Would you have preferred it, Mr. Wynn, if we didn't take that risk, no -- didn't shed that blood and we had Saddam Hussein still in Baghdad? Would you have preferred that situation?


NOVAK: It's a yes or a no.

WYNN: What I would have preferred was if we had gone after Osama bin Laden. Remember him?

NOVAK: No, that isn't the question I'm asking you.


WYNN: I think -- I think -- so that's what we should -- that's what we should -- should have done.

NOVAK: But you have to answer. You have to answer yes or no. Would you have preferred that we didn't go after him and save those American lives?

WYNN: I'm going to ask you a question. I would have preferred if we had done it intelligently with a larger coalition and saved some American lives that died needlessly.

NOVAK: Ambassador Sherman, if James Carville and his ilk had their way and we didn't go into Iraq, do you think the world would be safer for Americans without Saddam Hussein in power in Baghdad?

WENDY SHERMAN, KERRY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Bob, I don't think anyone has said that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. That's not the issue. The issue is did we go in with a plan to make that there was a peace after Saddam Hussein was gone? Did we understand what we were doing? Were we prepared? Were we with allies? Do we have any respect left in the world? And can we get the job done for the American people both in our economy and our security?

NOVAK: P.J. Crowley, do you think we'd be better off in the country and the world if Saddam Hussein was still in Baghdad?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: No. That's not the issue. The issue is not whether we went to Baghdad. It's how we got there and what we do now.

NOVAK: P.J. Crowley, Senator Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, said today he wasn't sure that Iraq was any better off without Saddam Hussein than it was with him in power. Do you agree with that?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: I think the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, because of what the Bush administration has done, we are not safer.

NOVAK: Congressman Hastings, even if they never found any weapons of mass destructions in Iraq, are we or are we not better off with Saddam Hussein out of power?

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: We are better off without Saddam Hussein out of power. But with the central argument being that there were weapons of mass destruction as the reason for why we went into the war, we certainly need to know whether or not there was a misinterpretation of analysis.

NOVAK: Are you -- are you -- would you have preferred that we didn't go into Iraq and Saddam Hussein was still in power in Baghdad as a threat to his neighbors and to us?

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first of all, I think everybody is pleased that Saddam Hussein is gone.

I think what we would have preferred is done it right, which I find ironic here. The situation is, I really wish we had sent enough troops to secure the country, rather than to have to send more troops to secure the election. That's what's wrong with this policy. And that's what's got it all backwards. And I think that, in fact, if we had done it right, which is what Powell had recommended, send overwhelming force, body-slam that country down when you deposed Saddam Hussein, we wouldn't be having the problems today and have the terrorism that are killing more troops after so-called the peace was accomplished, and that is overthrowing Saddam Hussein, than when people had in the war.

We did this wrong. And you didn't have to be this way. All the problems we face today of the deteriorating security situation were due for the way we secured this -- the way we pursued this policy, not because of the policy.

NOVAK: Mr. Ford, do you think Iraq would be better off if President Bush had not invaded and Saddam Hussein were still in Baghdad?

REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE: We are better off without him there, but we should have had a plan once we took him out. That's the problem.

NOVAK: Do you think the people of Iraq would have been better off if Saddam Hussein was still there?

TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, WIN WITHOUT WAR COALITION: No. But I think they're going to be worse off if the chaos that threatens that country and the tremendous terrorism that is affecting all of us is allowed to continue. And the roots of those problems and the roots of Iraq falling apart as it may -- very well may -- lie in this occupation and this very, very unfortunate illegal invasion of Iraq.

NOVAK: Do you think the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein was still in Baghdad?

RETIRED GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY: No, I think the world would be better off, though, if we had the entire United Nations unified and pressing and pulling Saddam out, rather than putting 170,000 Americans in the region and fighting a low-level guerrilla war there.

NOVAK: Jamie Rubin, your candidate, Senator Kerry yesterday on "Good Morning America" gave what is one of the all-time 10 top worst interviews I have ever seen.

And he made mistakes. But the worst thing he said was when he was asked was it worth it to go into Iraq and he answered, it depends on the outcome, ultimately. It depends. What kind of answer is that from a presidential candidate? Did you brief him to give that answer



JAMIE RUBIN, ADVISER TO SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Bob, this is a serious issue, this war. And if George Bush remains in office and we lose the credibility of the world and America is discredited and we have to cut and run because George Bush doesn't have the staying power, then maybe it won't be worth it.

But if John Kerry is elected president, despite all the mistakes that George Bush made, despite all the mistakes going into here, he's going to stay and finish the job and the world will be a better place.


NOVAK: With all due apology, with all apologies, Jamie, he was asked whether it was worth to go in. The American people need an answer on that. Is he going to say it wasn't worth it or it was worth it? "It depends" is not an answer, is it?

RUBIN: Well, Bob, this is not a sound bite. This is a war. And the issue needs to be taken very seriously.

Are we better off today because of the way George Bush handled this war? No. We're worse off. Iraq is now a terrorist haven.


NOVAK: You're saying it wasn't worth it.

RUBIN: Iraq is now a terrorist haven. Iraq is now a terrorist haven. There were no weapons of mass destruction. American soldiers are dying. And $200 billion into this, he has got no plan to get us out. And were we -- wouldn't we have been better off going after Osama bin Laden on the Afghan-Pakistan border, as John Kerry has called for. Presidents have to make decisions. They have to get their priorities straight. Osama bin Laden should have been the priority of this president.

NOVAK: All right. All right.

Congressman Wynn, Saddam Hussein, we don't know where he is, but he's not in Baghdad running the government. Is Iraq better off or worse off today than it was when Saddam Hussein was in control?


REP. ALBERT WYNN (D), MARYLAND: I think it's better off. I think we're just doing a bad job of bringing the light, as my colleague said, to Iraq. We could do a much better job. We should have done a much better job. We were too arrogant in saying we were going to be conquering heroes, instead of focusing on what we needed to do to rebuild Iraq.

NOVAK: Ed Markey, since you think it was such a bad idea to invade Iraq, do you think the world would be better off if we still had Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator in Baghdad?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.

But if Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear weapons program, then we could have contained him and we would not have to have lost a single...

NOVAK: You would rather have him in Baghdad, contained?

MARKEY: He was not a threat to the United States without nuclear weapons. And that's the only reason that we went in to fight.


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