This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Posted: 10:07 PM- The much-ballyhooed "smackdown" between Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News commentator Sean Hannity took on a circus atmosphere and lived up to its billing as Friday night at the (political) fights.
A raucous crowd filled the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall with cheers and jeers as Anderson and Hannity exchanged jabs and insults to the thrill of the divided - and often vocal - audience.
Moderator Ken Verdoia chastised the debaters and the audience regularly. He frequently shouted at the debaters and at times looked to be at wits end.
In an unusual format, each man got to make a 30-minute presentation, and then answered each other's questions for 15 minutes each, followed by questions from the audience.
Anderson, the former lawyer and litigator, led off with a PowerPoint presentation in building his case against the Iraq war and for the impeachment of President Bush.
"Our most-cherished values as Americans have been betrayed in unprecedented fashion," Anderson said. "Either we condone what he has done through our inaction or we impeach him."
The mayor argued for impeachment by citing a litany of "failures" and "misrepresentations" by Bush and his administration - from leading the country into war with Iraq and all its horrors, including torture at Abu Ghraib prison, to the fact weapons of mass destruction never were found there to the warrantless wiretaps undertaken against U.S. citizens.
Anderson - who has protested in Utah's capital, the nation's capital and in Washington state against Bush and the war - used footage of bloodied Iraqis who had been imprisoned by American forces.
"The cost of the war to the Iraqi people, who are much worse off now than before the invasion of Iraq, have been massive and tragic," Anderson said. "Resentment and hatred of the United States have increased dramatically because of Bush's atrocities."
Hannity countered by invoking the image of Ronald Reagan and the former president's proclamation that America is the guiding light for all nations.
The nationally syndicated talk-show host decried the Democrat-dominated U.S. Congress for attempting to cut funding for the Iraq war and dividing the nation in order, he alleged, to score political points.
"Your mayor is contributing greatly to this toxicity," Hannity said.
Hannity played video clips of top Democrats, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts supporting the invasion of Iraq. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., also talked of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction, Hannity noted.
Then he asked Anderson why he voted for Kerry in 2004, and why he wasn't asking for the removal of Kerry and other Democrats from office.
Anderson, a maverick Democrat, shot back. "You don't know who I voted for," he said. "I voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader."
Hannity demanded again that Anderson ask for removal of Democrats who favored war and now want to pull out.
"Why won't you show intellectual honesty and have the Democrats removed from office?"
The mayor answered that Democrats who supported the war need to be held accountable.
"Our Congress is absolutely complicit," Anderson said.
Hannity lashed out at "liberals" in the audience for not supporting the president.
"Everything is George Bush's fault," he said, sarcastically. "Some of you women may get pregnant. If you do, it's not your fault, it's George Bush's fault."
Anderson and others - such as anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier-son was killed in Iraq - are playing politics with war, Hannity argued. "They are undermining our troops and their efforts."
Hannity suggested that if Anderson - whom he frequently referred to as Salt Lake City's "part-time mayor and full-time protester" - refused to call for removal of all politicians who supported the war in Iraq, then Anderson, too, should be impeached.
The mayor closed by saying the U.S. "war of aggression" in Iraq is not what America stands for.
"To remove the president would send a resounding message to the world," he said. "To remain silent is complicity."