December 29, 2008

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On Meet the Press Richard Wolffe takes Rich Lowry to task for his statements about how important no attacks on US soil are as opposed to attacks overseas and how that lack of concern is extremely short sighted and unfortunately David Gregory makes sure Lowry gets to spew some more right wing talking points in response to Wolffe without giving him a chance to respond.

Full transcript to follow.

MR. GREGORY: The National Review cover that I mentioned says "Bush Exits," and your particular piece, Rich, is headlined this way: "`The Freedom Speech' in Retrospect. It was not the grossly simplistic vision of the second inaugural that saved Iraq."

MR. LOWRY: Yeah. Look, all inaugural addresses are aspirational at a certain level, so you have to factor that in. But I think this was overreaching. Yes, freedom is a important drive in all of human beings. But there are lots of other important drives. You know, for honor, for, you know, your way of life, for your ethnicity, your religion. All those sort of things were ignored. And one of Todd's interviewees in this Vanity Fair piece, an intelligence official, was asked, you know, why didn't they have more interest in the aftermath of Iraq? And he said, "Well, if you believe that freedom is inevitably going to triumph and if you just scratch beneath the surface of everyone, you basically have a Western liberal there, you're not going to be that interested in the aftermath because you think it's going to work out." And unfortunately, I think there's a fair amount of truth to that.

I just want to go back to Richard's point about the no attacks on U.S. soil. U.S. soil is a big caveat. I mean, that is a key thing. And in our exit interview with President Bush, you're just struck by the extent to which he was a war president. I mean, that's what drove him most passionately. And when you talk to him about it, you feel as though he's just sort of been left behind by the public and by history. And I think that's because of the very success in preventing another attack on U.S. soil...

MR. WOLFFE: But you can't...

MR. LOWRY: ...which allowed, which allowed the public to move on to, to other issues that they found more urgent.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MR. WOLFFE: You can't take America's national security across oceans to other continents and then only care about its impact on American soil. It's grossly irresponsible.

I--just a point about the, the second inaugural, though. Yes, grossly simplistic, but where's the follow through here? You say freedom is, is the most important thing, and everyone agrees with that. But again, America has a unique position on the international stage. Sustained involvement with fighting tyranny would, say, take you into Egypt where the president was saying he was going to stand with the dissidents and deal with jihadism. Well, you know, the dissidents in Egypt's jails are still there, and they are actually still the sworn enemies of the United States. So simplistic in conception and execution, and you cannot just say, "Well, here we are in America, we're just doing great. What about"...

MR. GREGORY: Let me...

MR. LOWRY: Well, it's, it's--yeah.

MR. GREGORY: Go ahead.

MR. LOWRY: It was impractical on a certain level. But, look, it's not as though the United States does not care about terror attacks overseas. And I think perhaps you're exaggerating the extent to which al-Qaeda has been strengthened. Al-Qaeda just suffered a severe defeat in the Arab heartland in Iraq, and that is a huge benefit to the United States strategically, and President Bush basically was--is responsible for that alone. His opponents wanted to quit from Iraq and basically hand the country over to terrorists. And Bush, you know, there are two sides to Bush; there's courage and there's stubbornness. Sometimes, you know, you saw him stubbornly sticking to the wrong course. The surge in Iraq, which saved the war there and dealt a blow to al-Qaeda, was a hugely courageous act.

MR. GREGORY: Just have about a minute left.

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