Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.
Continuing chaos in Iraq, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." U.S. Marines are taking care of business in Fallujah (search). -- That Iraqi town allowed atrocities against Americans, as you know. And an arrest warrant has been issued for the Shi'ite cleric whose followers killed eight Americans over the weekend.
But all the bad news out of Iraq is beginning to threaten President Bush's re-election. And that is the page one story.
Right now, the USA is fighting a defensive action inside Iraq and that cannot continue. Donald Rumsfeld (search) and his team at Defense must realize that the Iraqi people are not helping out as Rumsfeld envisioned.
It is the American military versus the terrorists with little civilian support. Puts a very different face on this conflict. Like South Vietnam, it is becoming increasingly obvious that many, perhaps most of the Iraqi people are not going to fight for their freedom. In Fallujah, citizens seem to be aiding the terrorists. In parts of Baghdad, Shi'ite militia are well armed and killing U.S. troops. In both cases, the Iraqi police do nothing to intervene.
So what we have here is a population that doesn't seem to value democracy. America did all it could, including 55,000 dead to give the South Vietnamese a chance to be free, but the South Vietnamese would not fight. So for the past 30 years, they have lived with the boots of the Communists on their necks. Believe me, I've been there. There's nothing free about Vietnam.
Some people simply will not embrace freedom. We have millions of Americans in this country who are being abused one way or another and refuse to do anything about it. Freedom is never free. Freedom is hard.
The Bush administration must come to grips with the true character of Iraq and begin to change strategy. The safety of the American military must become the top priority. The interest of the Iraqis themselves second. Unlike Afghanistan (search), where the majority of people seem to be cooperating with America, the Iraqis lay back, perhaps traumatized by decades of Saddam's oppression.
Understandable, but not acceptable. If these people won't help us, we need to get out in an orderly manner. If, come next October, Iraq continues to be a big mess, President Bush might very well lose the election. Mr. Bush and his advisers must know that. And that's why there's still a chance that the Iraqi radicals will be beaten. But time is running out, both for Iraq and for the Bush administration.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
Time is a fleeting thing. We're now into April already with Mother's and Father's Days beckoning in the distance. So we're going to reprise our Valentine's Day promotion, which was very successful.
Are you looking out for your mom and dad? So dial up the Web site billoreilly.com and personalize a greeting to them. I'll sign it and put it into my book, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Nice gift with a nice message, but you need to complement it with some flowers, dinner or a cocker spaniel. -- Looking out for your folks can get complicated!
You might also give them a trip to Fort Lauderdale to see them at the Office Depot arena May 2, Sunday. Details on billoreilly.com or Ticketmaster. Ridiculous? Fort Lauderdale's never ridiculous! Great beaches, great restaurants.
And by the way, President Clinton spoke at this venue a couple of months ago so we want to outdraw him, although that might be ridiculous.
--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org