Here's a quick look at what some of the right-wing media is saying about the dust-up between Rumsfeld and the soldier who asked him why he's having to dig through scrap metal to armor his truck. (transcripts as they become available; for now LexisNexis)
Right-Wing Talking Point 1: Isn't it great that American soldiers have the right to ask about this stuff?!
Tony Blankley of the Washington Times on Hardball:
Well, I think it`s a wonderful moment.
I`m a great admirer of Rumsfeld, but I think it`s wonderful that the troops can speak back and feel that they can speak back. I can`t imagine many armies in the world, I think including the British, where the ranks would think that they can do that. And they can and get away with it.
Ann Coulter on Hannity and Colmes:
In France, I mean, I think it's worth mentioning that -- that no one even blinks an eye that a soldier is asking this of the defense secretary. I think that is a wonderful thing about this country.
This is such a great talking point. It's like saying, "well, in Iran they don't have free and fair elections! But we do here! And sure we have some electoral problems, but aren't we a great country?" Fundamentally, it's a way of avoiding the problem.
Right-Wing Talking Point 2: You liberals can't complain about it because you vote against defense spending.
Ann Coulter, again, unfortunately, on Hannity and Colmes:
And finally, I would say I find it a little silly disputing whether or not the troops have enough armor from the people who were just supporting the guy who didn't was [sic] for more military spending... before voting against it. I mean, we're dealing with Democrats. Like you guys are the party of let's build the military up.
But frankly, Kirsten [Powers, FNC Political analyst], you have no moral authority, anybody on your side, at all, to raise this issue about -- more specifically, because you guys just voted for a guy who voted against every major weapons system that now comprises our current military.
You voted for a guy that voted against giving our troops body armor.
And so frankly, to be lectured from liberals about what we ought to be giving the military when you guys just supported John Kerry, frankly, is amazing to me.
You know what is amazing to me, Sean? That there is no moral low, no floor of cynicism and hypocrisy, to which you will not sink. Instead of being outraged by the fact that troops, whom you pretend to care about with your bumper stickers and flag-waving, don't have body armor, you blame liberals for complaing about it. I have an idea. How about you go get a refund for your God-save-our-troops yard sign and matching sweaters, and send it to the troops so they can buy some more scrap metal? How about you donate some of your tax cut to the people who need it? I wonder how much armor your tax cut along could buy our men and women in the field. Why don't you wipe that obviously rehearsed scowl off your face and do some calculations? Oh, I almost forgot. Because you don't have a soul.
Saying that Democrats can't complain about body armor because John Kerry voted against a weapons system in the Reagan administration is like saying that no republican can ever be involved in ethics reform because Richard Nixon tried to cover up his White House's involvement in Watergate. (For the record, not that I think any repubicans are in a position to get involved in ethics reform right now...)
But the most disgusting thing must be this:
Right-Wing Talking Point 3: A reporter helped the soldier frame his question. Therefore the question must the product of the liberal media, and must be less valid.
So basically what we have here is a "reporter" who went out and created news in order to be able to cover it, by his own admission in a memo. This man is Edward Lee Pitts, Chattanooga Times Free Press. He's all excited the national media picked up on the questions he fed the National Guardsman to ask. So this reporter admits essentially creating news in order to cover it, which is probably no big deal anymore.
OK, Rush, so the fact that soldiers in Iraq don't have body armor isn't newsworthy on its own? If that's what you want to be on the record as saying, go right ahead.
Rush has a long rant on this. You should read the whole thing. In one part he, unbelievably, quotes the memo that Mr. Pitts wrote about the incident:
I believe lives are at stake with so many soldiers going across the border riding with scrap metal as protection.
It may be to [sic] late for the unit I am with, but hopefully not for those who come after. The press officer in charge of my regiment, the 278th, came up to me afterwords [sic] and asked if my story would be positive. I replied that I would write the truth.
And then goes on to further criticize him. That evil reporter. Trying to save lives. I told you he was a liberal.
A Media Setup
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who is embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, orchestrated hostile questions from two soldiers to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday, Matt Drudge reports at his Web site, www.drudgereport.com.
Major media in the country gave the story big play, depicting the questions about a lack of armor for vehicles as an embarrassment to Mr. Rumsfeld.
However, Mr. Drudge yesterday published a purported e-mail from Mr. Pitts in which the reporter brags about how he set up Mr. Rumsfeld and inspired a media frenzy.
Poor Donald Rumsfeld. The big bad mainstream media depicts him as being embarrassed. We feel sorry for him. What was that question that he was asked again? Something about armor?
For what it's worth, it's clear that the soldier asked the question of his own free will. Don't blame the reporter. Don't blame the soldier. Blame Rumsfeld, who doesn't even have the decency to talk straight to the people whose lives he's putting in danger. Blame the right-wing punditry for their utter lack of principles.