Why Are the Democrats So Upset About Bush's Iraq Speech?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: President Bush is under fire for repeatedly raising the issue of September 11th during a speech he gave last night justifying the war in Iraq. DNC Chair Howard Dean blasted Bush, saying, "Instead of offering the American people a clear path to success in Iraq, President Bush returned to the same defensive and discredited rhetoric the American people and, most especially, our troops, who are serving with great courage, deserve better than discredited, shop-worn political rhetoric from their commander-in-chief."

And House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had this to say about Bush's speech.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The speech that the president made could have been made one year ago, two years ago. It really wasn't anything new. And what we were looking for last night was really the president to take the initiative for a strategy for success with specific plans and what the milestones were that we had to achieve before our troops could come home safely.


COLMES: Joining us now, former Clinton adviser, Dick Morris.

Dick, let me just show you. This is a part of the speech, I think, most Democrats are really upset with last night. We seem to once again draw that link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Let's take a look.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York in Washington and Pennsylvania.


COLMES: And here is what the 9/11 Commission Report said. It said, "But to date, we have seen no evidence that these or other earlier contacts ever developed into collaborative, operational relationships, nor we have seen evidence indicating the Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

It's shopworn. It is.

DICK MORRIS, POLITICAL ANALYST: That reminds me of somebody criticizing President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II for mentioning Pearl Harbor when he was discussing going after Germany, when he was discussing winning World War II...

COLMES: Germany declared war on us.

MORRIS: Yes, but we would have declared war on her. And Roosevelt certainly wanted to. In citing 9/11, in going after the Iraqi front of the War on Terror, it's just as valid as FDR citing Pearl Harbor in going after the German...


COLMES: ... the 9/11 report said it didn't happen.

MORRIS: Oh, the Germans had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, Alan.

COLMES: Germany declared war on us four days after Pearl Harbor, Dick.

MORRIS: The United States would have declared war on Germany and, thank goodness Germany did declare war.

COLMES: But that's why we went after Germany. You said — go ahead.

MORRIS: The point is, we went after Germany because Pearl Harbor persuaded us that we need to go after all fascists, all over, Mussolini, and Hitler, and Tojo. And we now — and we made the same decision after 9/11 to go after all terrorists.Now, if you want to criticize the speech for being a rotten speech, I'll agree with you.

COLMES: Well, there's more to criticize than just that.


MORRIS: ... saying that it's not effective, I'll agree with you.

COLMES: You said in your recent...


MORRIS: But he's entitled to cite 9/11 in the case of Iraq.

COLMES: No, he's not entitled, when 9/11 report specifically said it wasn't linked. You said Bush is in big trouble.


COLMES: You said that in your most recent column.

MORRIS: Yes. In fact, I even sometimes wonder if he's trying hard. I think that, in a sense, he doesn't really realize that his front in this war is to maintain his own popularity so that the troops who are, I hope, winning the fight in Baghdad are not undone on the streets of Washington.

And my feeling is that Bush is just not trying. I think that he has abandoned his campaign footing. He's no longer mobilizing politically like he needs to. And if his popularity sinks further, this war is going to be sunk.

In America today, a president is functionally out of office when his job approval drops below 50 percent. And when it drops below 40, he might as well hang it up.

LOWRY: Dick, let me get in here. And I think you're right. He didn't really talk about Iraq at length for about six months. And I think that's part of the reason the numbers are sinking.

But let's return to the 9/11 issue that the Democrats are so crazy about. It seems to me the main enemy we're facing in Iraq, or one of them, Zarqawi, he has explicitly allied himself with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Usama bin Laden. So there seems now to definitely be a connection to 9/11 and to the War on Terror in Iraq.

MORRIS: Iraq has become an employment agency for terrorists, which is fine. I'd rather fight them in Iraq than in New York any day.

And what's basically happening is all of the suicide bombers, the homicide bombers, the airplane hijackers that would be hitting us in the United States are buying tickets to Iraq and fighting us there. And if we can use Iraq as a method of luring in terrorists and defeating them there, that's great.

The problem with Bush's speech is, he forgot to speak "female." The reason Bush won in '04 is that Gore and Bush tied among white women. But Bush beat Kerry among white women by 11 points, and because Bush learned to speak "female". He learned to relate the war in Iraq to protecting our family...

LOWRY: Security moms.

MORRIS: And he's not doing that now. He's into this macho rhetoric of, "We're going to deliver freedom, and we're not going to let the terrorists win." And he already has the white male vote.

LOWRY: Well, let me ask you. And we saw the clips of Nancy Pelosi, you know, asking for a more specific strategy. But it doesn't seem to me that the Democrats have any alternative to offer here. They have a lot of carping criticism, but most of the mainstream elected officials who are Democrats aren't calling for us to pull out and don't really have any different policy to offer.

MORRIS: That's the same problem Kerry had. It's why he lost the election.

But because he lost the election, they don't have to offer an alternative. They just have to be negative. That's the job of the party.

But Bush has to, first of all, speak female. And secondly, he has to realize that he needs to do other things to bolster his popularity in order to win the war in Iraq, things like tax reform proposals, a good energy program, hydrogen cars to get away from gasoline dependency. Raise his ratings to protect our soldiers.

LOWRY: Do you think, Dick — really quickly —we have about a minute left. When Karl Rove made that very controversial speech here in New York City last week criticizing Democrats on the war and saying they're weak, was that a deliberate attempt to try to set up a campaign-like contrast with the other party again?

MORRIS: It could have been. And Karl is brilliant, so I would hate to second-guess him. But I don't think that you're going to get more than 110 percent of the white male vote.

LOWRY: That's another...


MORRIS: He's already gotten all of the macho males you're going to get.


MORRIS: ... the security moms.

LOWRY: Reming me to speak female the rest of tonight...


COLMES: ... speak female. Republicans could use that kind of advice. You ought to give them that. And maybe Dick will consult you when you run for...

LOWRY: My girlfriend would be delighted if I spoke female.

COLMES: When you run for office, Dick will consult for you.

Coming up — Dick, we've got to run.


MORRIS: ... election, white women.

COLMES: Thank you for being with us.

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