'Special Report' Panel on Possible Policy Change in Iraq

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from September 19, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM WEBB, D-VA.: I think it is very important that we just p ut a safety net under our troops to tell them, to reassure them that however long they are being deployed, they should be able to have that much time at least at home in order to refurbish, retrain, have time with their families, and mentally get prepared to go.

SEN. JOHN WARNER, R-VA.: I endorsed it. I intend now to cast a vote against it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: And indeed he did. That was Republican Senator John Warner, who had given Senator Webb and others some hope they might actually be able to pass what amounted to the first change in Iraq policy since the Petraeus briefings.

Now some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer — FOX News contributors all.

Now as I was saying, this was the first effort out of the box since the Petraeus briefings to force some sort of change in Iraq policy. It was not one that was welcomed by the antiwar left because it did not require a complete withdrawal. But it would have made it difficult in the view of the Defense Department. Why did this fail, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it failed because the expected collapse of Republican support for the policy, which people had predicted in the summer, did not happen, and in part because of Petraeus' appearance, and also because of the realities on the ground, which he talked about and convinced people in the Senate and in the country — we have some success and we ought to continue.

The Webb Amendment was the only serious threat to that policy because it is something that would help our troops, it would increase the amount of time spent at home. However, it would have the side effect, if you like, or the intended effect among some who proposed it, of making it essentially impossible to continue with the surge because it would reduce the number of troops available.

And when John Murtha had proposed something like it a year ago, he explicitly had said they had searched for a way that would appear to be a support of the troops that would actually undermine and make the surge impossible.

Webb is a patriot and a hero, and I think he really did it exclusively as a way to help out troops, but because of its effect on the war effort, it would have been a disaster. It failed.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: While the Senate was debating this, Charles and I, actually, were down at the White House in a session with the president, and he said that he did not want Congress to determine troop deployments in Iraq.

I cannot believe that Webb did not understand — he is a former marine — what the consequence of this would be. And another consequence is that since the whole policy was delayed for 120 days, it would mean that the troops who were serving in Iraq now would have to have their tours extended.

This was mischievous, in effect, amendment. An John Murtha was at the National Press Club earlier this week, or last week, and said exactly what this was intended to do. So Webb was not innocent about all of this.

So it is good that it went down.

ANGLE: Fred, what is your take on all of this?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, my invitation to this event at the White House that they went to, it must have gotten lost in the mail, because I never got it. So here I am. I did not see Bush, with nothing to say now.

ANGLE: I do not think I have ever been with you when you had nothing to say.

BARNES: I am not going to let that stop me.

But the truth is this Webb Amendment, something similar was voted on before, and this time they picked up a Democrat, Tim Johnson, who is back from having had a stroke, and they lost John Warner.

And they are stuck at 56 votes after this huge effort they have made, spending all this money, expecting Republicans to get badgered by voters during the August recess about Iraq — they were not. There were badgering about immigration. And they really have gotten nowhere.

And there is one other thing, and that is that the notion that somehow there has not been some movement in the polls in favor of Iraq is simply wrong because it works this way — one, General Petraeus was favorably received. Two, I think you see in this Gallup poll that show about 60 percent of the people either favor his withdrawal schedule of troops or think they should not be withdrawing troops at all.

And then the surge itself in the last couple of months has grown in popularity by 10 to 12 points. I think what this means is if the surge continues to work, we will see the beginnings of people changing their mind about the overall war.

ANGLE: OK, about 30 seconds left. Democrats had said they would going to try to make some compromise efforts with Republicans. They have now made clear they are abandoning those efforts. Why?

KRAUTHAMMER: If the Webb Amendment has failed, everything else is going to fail. So they are not going to have a compromise that is going to have any restraint on the war. So you might as well as for the ideological pose of being tougher against the president and not seeking a compromise, knowing it will fail.

KONDRACKE: There are 77 cosponsors in the Senate for a resolution, an amendment, that would make the Iraq Study Group national policy. The president told us he is against that, too, because he is determined to follow the Petraeus timetable. So that is

ANGLE: He wants the flexibility on the date.

OK, when we come back, Jesse Jackson creates a row by saying Barack Obama is acting white. And Hillary Clinton weighs in too on the case of black high school students accused of beating a white classmate in Louisiana, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANGLE: And we are back with our panel.

There is a whole new row here now with Jesse Jackson, who is accusing Senator Barack Obama of acting like he is white for not saying enough about something in Jena, Louisiana that we reported on earlier in the program, where some young black men were charged with crimes for beating up a white student.

And today, Hillary Clinton weighed in on that in an interview with Al Sharpton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y.: I was troubled by the reports that African American students were initially charged and sentenced in a manner out of all proportion to what the situation called for.

And it just reminds me, and underscores my commitment, that we have a responsibility to confront racial injustice and intolerance anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANGLE: Now, after Jesse Jackson had said that Barack Obama was acting white, he issued a statement saying he still supports him, though, and elaborated somewhat on his comments, saying "I reaffirm my commitment to vote for Senator Barack Obama. He has remarkably transcended race. However, the impact of Katrina and Jena makes America's unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable."

ANGLE: Now, we will get to something more here in a moment, gentlemen, but this notion that Jesse Jackson is accusing Barack Obama of acting like is white — his statements on this whole problem and these kids and the crimes they were charged with in the beating up a white kid — his statement was about the same as everyone else's, as far as I can tell, saying he hoped the decision would be fair, and all that sort of thing.

Why is Jesse Jackson upset with Barack Obama?

KRAUTHAMMER: It is because he and Al Sharpton have, essentially, said that unless you equate Jena with Selma, you somehow have betrayed African- Americans. That is preposterous. It is sacrilegious.

Selma was righteous, innocent African American who were demanding their rights being attacked. In Jena, it is the defense of six students who viciously attacked a white student into unconsciousness — according to L.A. Times, beat him after he was a unconscious.

Now, it is true that he left the hospital that they, apparently OK. But when you cause a concussion to anybody, you are risking a serious brain injury in a possible disability. So this is not a trivial schoolyard brawl.

And the second hypocrisy is that liberals are always demanding hate crime laws which would add to the seriousness of an offense and the punishment if the motive is essentially a racial one, which is essentially what had happened here.

You did not hear that out of Jackson and Sharpton. What you heard was a cry for reduction of the penalty.

ANGLE: I will get to you guys. Let's see what Obama, late in the day, issued a statement you will find amusing, in which he said "My statements on Jena were carefully thought out, with input and support from one of my national campaign chairman, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr."

KONDRACKE: Take that, pop. One, Jesse Jackson Sr. now cannot remember whether he said or didn't say that Barack Obama was acting like he was white. There was no tape recording of this —

ANGLE: He didn't deny it, he just said "I don't recall."

KONDRACKE: Exactly.

There were injustices' here. This one young man was charged with attempted murder as an adult, although he was 16.

ANGLE: You think they were charged with too serious a crime.

KONDRACKE: Yes, and the charges were reduced. I think that a lot of the injustice has been corrected. The tree about which this all began, and where nooses were hung, clearly in a racially provocative way, was cut down by authorities.

It looks as though the people of Jena can solve this on their own. But can Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson leave well enough alone? No.

BARNES: There is something completely different going on here, of course, and that is that Barack Obama is doing something in a presidential race that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton could not do, and that is attract white voters.

And Obama is someone who is an exciting candidate, who literally thrills white liberals. And Jackson, basically, antagonized them. Al Sharpton, they did not like him at all. And this is what makes Obama, not Jesse Jackson, the first African-American to have a real chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

I think he will win most of the African-American vote, plus a lot of white liberals — that is a ticket to success.

ANGLE: You're saying it is jealousy.

BARNES: Yes, exactly. It is jealousy.

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