Righties are nearly giddy with joy at yesterday’s combative Veterans Day address by George W. Bush. Dear Leader is finally fighting back, and now the sun will shine and birds will chirp and all the awful bad poll numbers will go away.
At the rightie blog PoliPundit, Lorie Byrd wrote,
I agree with Michelle [Malkin] that the outrageous allegations of “lying” and “misleading” into war should have been addressed sooner. At one time I thought maybe it was better that Bush not personally respond, but that others do it for him. And many did a good job. As time passed though, and those allegations got repeated enough, with the media never questioning their validity, but merely parroting them over and over again, they gained an air of credibility about them. That is all that the public has heard in the mainstream media for two years now. Many have accepted those allegations as truth. I am very impatient. I could not have waited as long as Bush has to come out swinging. Maybe, though, if the President and his people come out forcefully enough now, armed with unassailable facts, they might be able to make a stronger argument than they would have if they were playing defense. I have been begging for this for a while now and would have liked to have seen it sooner, but it will be interesting to see if the President’s timing and method of action are effective.
Michelle also described Norman Podhoretz’s essay which was linked here as “the clear catalyst for Bush’s speech.”
“Outrageous” allegations? One wonders if righties understand what truth is.
Let’s say you ask me, “Have you seen Jane lately? How is she?” and I respond truthfully that I saw her last week and she was fine, you would naturally assume that Jane is fine. But if I knew for a fact that last night Jane was run over by a train and is being refrigerated at the county morgue, and didn’t bother to pass along that little detail, then my response would not have been honest.
But this is essentially the rightie approach to “truth.” For example, in the essay linked above Podhoretz writes,
And even Hans Blix–who headed the UN team of inspectors trying to determine whether Saddam had complied with the demands of the Security Council that he get rid of the weapons of mass destruction he was known to have had in the past–lent further credibility to the case in a report he issued only a few months before the invasion:
The discovery of a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. . . . They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.
Blix now claims that he was only being “cautious” here, but if, as he now also adds, the Bush administration “misled itself” in interpreting the evidence before it, he at the very least lent it a helping hand.
Blix may very well have said all those things. But Podhoretz leaves out the inconvenient little detail that at the eve of the invasion Blix was begging the White House to at least postpone the invasion and give the inspectors more time, because they were not finding WMDs and doubted, at the very least, they were there.
Podhoretz’s whole essay is like that; it’s all spin and talking points. It is literally factual and deeply dishonest at the same time.
Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus write in today’s Washington Post:
President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.
Neither assertion is wholly accurate.
The administration’s overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.
But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered “the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence.” He said that “those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen.”
But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.”
President Bush’s speech yesterday was one miscarriage of truth after another.
Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration “manipulated the intelligence” are “fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments.”
In the same speech, Bush asserted that “more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.” Giving a preview of Bush’s speech, Hadley had said that “we all looked at the same intelligence.”
But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President’s Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community’s views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.
In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.
Anyone see a pattern here? Much like the Patriot Act and other controversial activities, the White House and its allies repeatedly waited util the last second to present confusing and sometimes incomplete information to Congress and rammed through a vote on it right away.
Milbank and Pincus continue,
Bush, in his speech Friday, said that “it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.” But in trying to set the record straight, he asserted: “When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support.”
The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.
The resolution voiced support for diplomatic efforts to enforce “all relevant Security Council resolutions,” and for using the armed forces to enforce the resolutions and defend “against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”
In other words, in “trying to set the record straight,” Bush lied about the record.
Hadley, in his remarks, went further. “Congress, in 1998, authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence,” he said. “And, as you know, the Clinton administration took some action.”
But the 1998 legislation gave the president authority “to support efforts to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein” by providing assistance to Iraqi opposition groups, including arms, humanitarian aid and broadcasting facilities.
President Bill Clinton ordered four days of bombing of Iraqi weapons facilities in 1998, under the 1991 resolution authorizing military force in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Describing that event in an interview with CBS News yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “We went to war in 1998 because of concerns about his weapons of mass destruction.”
I believe Condi has equated Clinton’s bombing with “going to war” before. Never mind that the “Clinton did it too” defense sounds a tad juvenile — I wasn’t the only one who threw eggs at Mr. Johnson’s car! Billy did it, too! — it is ludicrous on its face to equate Clinton’s bombing with “going to war.”
But to righties, that does’t matter. The hard-core rightie faithful, which includes most rightie bloggers, will grasp at any verbiage that comes out of a White House officials’ mouth as “unassailable facts” that repudiate the lies of the trickster left. That’s because any challenge to the fantasy world they live in scares the piss out of them. It is absolutely futile to try to reason with most of them, because they’ll turn purple and start screaming before you can finish a sentence. But it is vital for all of us to keep setting the record straight, so that Americans who are capable of appreciating the truth get to hear the truth.