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Conservatives Ignore Their Own Recent Views of Gaddafi

Jackson Williams: Austin-based writer, Posted: March 23, 2011 11:38 AM


On Tuesday night’s O’Reilly Factor, the Fox News host again showed his carnival barker’s chutzpah.

Bill O’Reilly, leading off his “talking points” segment with a call for the absolute ouster of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, insisted it’s the only viable outcome because, after all, the guy “killed Americans.” This was a reference to the ’88 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 253 on board.

He didn’t mention it, but a French flight the following year in the Sahara killed 171. That second downing got little play here, but was certainly big in France and throughout Europe. It probably played some role in President Sarkozy’s decision to take a lead in the new crisis.

I seem to recall a different spin from the Right not too long ago. In ’03 and ’04, Gaddafi finally acknowledged legal culpability for those bombings, and agreed to pay $2.7 billion for Lockerbie families and an additional amount to the French. Around the same time, Libya agreed to dismantle its long-range missile program and allow international inspectors. All of this was hailed, but conservatives went further, touting it as proof that W’s war of choice was paying dividends in the war on terror.

Let’s by God hear it for cowboy decision-making! We’ve taken over Iraq, and already we’re scaring other Muslim potentates into submission. It’s that easy.

We actually heard this argument at the time, especially from neoconservatives, and while I don’t have the video or transcripts at hand, I bet O’Reilly (and Limbaugh, Gingrich, Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, et al.) made the same “Mission Accomplished” case. That crowd was positively crowing that we’d brought Gaddafi to his knees, forced him back into the “community of nations,” all thanks to W’s folly.

Even Donald Rumsfeld, in his recent apologia Known and Unknown: A Memoir, writes that we let Gaddafi “off the hook.”

The Right was still giving the Republican administration a pass in October ’08 when the outgoing president signed an executive order restoring Libya’s immunity from terror-related lawsuits. No, that didn’t get them exercised, but Obama’s current support of a no-fly zone does? Makes no sense. At least anti-war criticism toward him from the Left is consistent.

An O’Reilly guest on Tuesday, Monica Crowley, noted that polling shows Americans are reluctant about our latest actions in Libya, to which he instinctively replied — not missing a beat — that it’s because people “don’t trust Obama.”

No, Bill, it’s because people remember the disastrous eight years of George Bush. Of course, Fox News can’t go there. It would be off-message to the base.

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