The often-amicable debate on Fox News’ “The Five” turned ugly on Thursday, with mild-mannered host Dana Perino snapping at co-host Bob Beckel as the two bitterly bickered over Iraq’s rapid slide into chaos.
Perino — a conservative who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary — frequently clashes with Beckel, a liberal who worked in the Carter State Department. But the arguments rarely become as heated or as personal as their disagreement over the Iraq War on Thursday.
Beckel kicked things off. “There’s so much revisionism going on here,” he began. “First of all, there never were Islamic radicals in Mosul or Tikrit, they came in after the Baathists. Saddam Hussein kept that country in pretty good shape.”
“This is not something the president lost,” he later declared. “I mean, what were we going to do? We were going to stay in there for 40 years?”
When Greg Gutfeld noted “that’s what we used to do,” Beckel responded that “that was a world war. This is not a world war.”
“It’s not a global war on terror?” Perino asked quietly, her voice dripping with disdain. “It’s like this is not even a serious conversation. Talk about revisionist history!”
“What’s the revision?” Beckel shot back combatively.
“Everybody forgets that on 9/11, one of the keys was to try to prevent a place where terrorists would have a safe haven to plot and plan,” Perino continued. “They’re not going to stay within one border. They don’t even think there is a border now!”
“I think that we are foolish to think that we can just pretend like nothing is happening, just shut down, just focus in here,” she claimed. “Because where they have a safe haven to plot and plan, you can’t drone that out of a state like that.”
Beckel became angry. “The fact of the matter is, [in 2008] anybody who followed this would have predicted this was going to happen,” he said. “Iraq is gone. It’s going to fall apart.”
“That’s not true,” Perino hit back. “It was actually the generals that told President Obama if you don’t follow through, that’s what will happen. THAT’S what was predicted.”
“Follow through what?” Beckel asked.
“Follow through on the status-of-forces agreement, which President Obama failed to sign,” Perino answered, referencing an agreement that would’ve kept some troops in Iraq past 2011.
“I would prefer to listen to the generals than to somebody who hasn’t been in government in YEARS any day,” Perino added pointedly, glaring at Beckel.
“Ouch,” Beckel said. “Ok, that was a good shot.”
“Well you take shots constantly Bob!” Perino went on. “You sit there and you act like — that everything from 1978 is still relevant after 9/11.”
“And — and I think you’re suggesting that 9/11 is the rationale for everything we do,” Beckel said quietly, looking a little hurt.
The two clashed a bit more before their anxious looking co-hosts managed to steer the two away from their shouting match.