O'Reilly's interview of Obama on the Surge

As a prosecutor, I was impressed with Bill O’Reilly’s interview of Obama relative to the surge.  To put it bluntly, he put Obama in a box. 

The point of a good cross-examination is to lead the witness somewhere without the witness realizing where they are headed.  This is done through a number of irrefutable leading questions that are easily answered.  O’Reilly did this with Obama by starting out by asking if there was a war on terror. Obama responded in the affirmative. 

The next question was just as crucial, but seemed innocent enough, namely identify the enemies.  Obama followed with Al Qaeda, terror cells, and radical Islam coupled with a vague commitment to hunt these terrorists down and eliminate them. 

O’Reilly then did an extraordinary thing, but necessary for the effectiveness of the examination, he conceded that the initial invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but then asked whether the surge was a success and necessary.  Obama probably sensed he was in trouble at this point.  He already conceded that there was a war on terror and the Al Qaeda was the enemy.  Obama also stated that Al Qaeda (and terror cells and radical Islam) needed to be hunted and eliminated.  Yet, when faced with the prospect of sending more troops into Iraq, where it was confirmed there was Al Qaeda and radicals, Obama had advocated exactly the opposite position.  From a logical standpoint, Obama’s position was now indefensible.  The Harvard-educated lawyer had just been out witted by a journalist.

But O’Reilly was not done.  This was only one point.  The next was Iran.  Again, the easy question came first, and Obama conceded that Iran was a “major threat.”  But the easy question only appears easy on its face and only in the abstract.  If it is related back to the prior questions, then Obama begins to have difficulties.  He already declared that radical Islam was a threat and part of the war on terror.  He already indicated that terror cells had to be eliminated.  He now conceded that Iran was a “major threat,” but this flies in the face of his position on Iraq and abandoning that country to Iranian control and influence. 

While O’Reilly never directly questioned him on this issue, the logical connection was there for any to see.  While Obama was struggling to define what he would do in the face of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, the observer also understood that Obama’s posturing was not consistent and logical.

Some questions never need to be asked – a good cross-examiner will make the necessary connections in the closing argument.  In this situation, the closing would almost write itself  – Obama gave O’Reilly so much material to use for it. Obama believes in fighting a war on terror against Al Qaeda, terror cells and radicals, except when it came to Iraq and a surge, where we knew there was now Al Qaeda, terror cells, and radicals, as well as the shadow of the “major threat” posed by Iran.  In that case, he opposed the surge.  Why?  Ah, there is crucial point and there is only one answer that makes any sense – political expediency.
Jason Legg
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