The President issued his veto, in an attempt to insure that combat operations can continue indefinitely, precisely four years to the day after his famous photo-op on the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce that major combat operations had ended. All three networks could not resist rerunning that aircraft carrier footage. ABC's Jake Tapper called it "the most spectacular and, perhaps, notorious photo-op" of Bush's Presidency. That speech is "a favorite for critics trying to illustrate a President who misjudged Iraq from the outset," remarked CBS' Jim Axelrod. Bush had made his announcement "prematurely," NBC's David Gregory understated.
CBS not only chose not to lead with the veto, it also decided not to follow up with political analysis about what Congress will do in response, given the universal expectation that the veto will be upheld. NBC and ABC both consulted their Sunday morning anchors. George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week outlined a three-way split among Democrats: those who want to send the same vetoed bill back he dubbed "no retreat, no surrender;" those who propose acceding to the President's no-strings request, "live to fight another day;" those who propose doling out funds in quarterly tranches, "several bites at the apple." Tim Russert (at the tail of the Gregory videostream) of NBC's Meet the Press saw prospects of an "interesting" bipartisan Congressional compromise: both parties may agree on a set of benchmarks to hold the government of Iraq accountable for meeting "promises and commitments."
Only NBC filed from Iraq itself. Richard Engel covered confusing reports in Baghdad about the fate of Egyptian-born abu-Ayyub al-Masri, the reputed leader of al-Qaeda militants in Iraq. He may have been killed in a three-way feud in Taji involving tribal leaders, anti-US insurgent forces and al-Qaeda adherents. Even if al-Masri is dead, Engel was confident that it would not put an end to the terrorist suicide carbombs that are al-Qaeda's hallmark.
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