Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Once More, From The Top...

As I mentioned in a post a week and a half ago, it gets tiresome to keep refuting the "Bush Lied!" nonsense that has, in effect, become conventional wisdom these days. (I've encountered this at work, in private discussions, and online, in such sources of wit and brilliance as this one and this one, among others.)

As Rich Casebolt pointed out to me, it is useful to keep well-thought-out arguments on hand; the need keeps arising to point to them. But Norman Podhoretz has done a finer job than I could dream of doing:
Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.

Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is.
By all means, read the whole thing.

(hat tip: Roger L. Simon.)

UPDATE: Tom Bevan tightens the argument a bit... just in case anyone still believes that WMD inspections in Iraq "were working". (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

UPDATE II: Now a follow-up... and this really does come from the top:
General David Petraeus says, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
(emphasis added)

Amen. This needs to be said... and it needed to be said by the President. (By all means, read the whole speech. Among other important features, he consistently calls the terrorists by name... and refers to them, and their supporters, as 'murderers'. Again, a simple truth, but it needs to be said.)

This will not silence the "Bush Lied!" crowd, certainly. But I'm gratified to see that the President is, finally, fighting back.

By the way, many Republicans seem to be exasperated with the President over this speech -- "what took you so long?", and similar reactions. Personally, I believe that Bush is once again using his time-tested "misunderestimation" strategy. Time and again, Bush has dealt with his critics by letting them get as harsh and as shrill as they want... until the moment of his choosing, when he can come out strongly and let the wind out of their sails. He's perfected this technique, and gotten excellent results with it, over and over again.

(I'm reminded of an old favorite novel from my boyhood, in which a politician named Byerley uses what he calls "shyster tricks" -- which he goes on to define as letting your political opponent do all the work for you. When an opponent attacks him, he cheerfully fails to respond... and explains, "I'm going to let him go ahead, choose his rope, test its strength, cut it to the desired length, tie a noose, insert his head, and grin. I can do what little else is required.")

I'll leave it to historians to decide whether Bush adopted this as a deliberate strategy, or simply as a way of playing to his strengths. (Bush is known for being ineloquent, for not thinking particularly fast on his feet, and so on. Giving his opponents as much rope as they want gives him time to marshall his arguments, and gives his opponents time to grow shrill and overconfident.)

Either way, Bush fights to win, and his results have been very impressive, to say the very least. Let's not misunderestimate him here.

UPDATE III: Apparently, many high-ranking Republicans were just waiting for the President to set the tone. Michelle Malkin and Prof. Glenn are all over it; the PowerLine guys have some good stuff to say about it too. But the headline I love belongs to Tom Maguire: "Hardly Seems Fair To Quote Them Now".

UPDATE IV: Oh, God, this is hilarious!
IS BUSH ACTUALLY ISRAELI? When he defends himself, the press says he's escalating.
Thank you, Glenn! I needed a laugh this morning.

UPDATE V: Christopher Hitchens does his usual splendid job, asking: if you still believe that Bush lied about Saddam to start a war, what else must you believe?
It was, of course, the sinuous and dastardly forces of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress who persuaded the entire Senate to take leave of its senses in 1998. I know at least one of its two or three staffers, who actually admits to having engaged in the plan. By the same alchemy and hypnotism, the INC was able to manipulate the combined intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as the CIA, the DIA, and the NSA, who between them employ perhaps 1.4 million people, and who in the American case dispose of an intelligence budget of $44 billion, with only a handful of Iraqi defectors and an operating budget of $320,000 per month. That's what you have to believe.
He also quotes the Washington Post, which claims that in 2002 Congress authorized Bush to invade Iraq, but not to remove Saddam Hussein from power. On the other hand, in 1998, President Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act did call for the removal of Saddam, but did not explicitly authorize the use of force. Hitchens then says:
Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow?

Steve, on the other hand, doesn't think much of all this.


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