An American Sickness

From Jay Nordlinger's column today:

"Not a minute too soon, President Bush and Vice President Cheney are fighting back against this "Bush lied" nonsense. About the worst charge you can level against a president is that he lied his country into war — an unnecessary war. And this lie has been gaining traction among people. What Bush always had going for him - from the first; since he started running in Texas - was that he was a "straight shooter." He was almost painfully honest. Even if you didn't like him, or his policies, you knew he was sincere, that what you saw was what you got. This is an invaluable quality for a politician. (Reagan had it too.)

And Bush is now widely seen as shady, shifty - Nixonian. That is an alarming and stupid reversal.

Of course, as has been amply documented in National Review and elsewhere, the Bush-lied charge is the biggest lie of all. (For a total demolition of this lie, see Norman Podhoretz's piece in Commentary.) That this lie has made such progress says something sick about our culture. That Joseph Wilson is basically a figure of respect rather than infamy says something sick about that culture, too - especially our media culture. His lies have been exposed again and again, and he ought to go away somewhere, Agnew-like, to atone. Instead, he is a proud celebrity. Again, this is sick.

Meanwhile, Bush, Cheney, et al. have a war to win. They have a society to protect, against people bent on doing it harm. Bush and his team are constantly attacked as torturers, as haters of civil liberties - but as soon as any American is killed, they will be condemned as lax.

This is the burden of leadership. The rest of us can just sit at our typewriters and carp. The administration is supposed to stop the Lackawanna Six. But we get to say that the Patriot Act is an expression of McCarthyite evil. Isn't that a sweet deal - for us? All the administration can do is perform. And if they do their jobs, they will be thanked - maybe not soon, and maybe not even in their lifetimes, but eventually, I believe. And I think Bush knows this, too."


Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off And Scaring The Cat To The Ceiling.

The two of you must be either completely insane or perfect slaves.

Hi Greg,I owe you an apology for my last posting. I shouldn't have been so snarky and your last posting wasn't exactly a change of subject. However, I still don't think it was relevant to the issue at hand.Your original post was a complaint that the President is now seen as untruthful or misleading on the runup to Iraq. A majority of independent voters and even 22% of Republican voters hold this view. This DOES NOT make them right. No poll can determine whether the administration was truthful on Iraq. Just as no poll can demonstrate that the PATRIOT Act has not been corrosive to liberty.Thanks to Senator Levin, the President has been presented with a series of falsiable assertions, specific instances where a Senator is claiming that the Administration had information hurtful to its sales campaign that was NOT passed on to Congress. He names dates and agencies where reports supposedly hurtful to the Administration's case were not passed on. This is his basis for the statement that Congress did not have the same intelligence as the President.The President claims that Congress did have the same intelligence as he did. If this is so, then all the President needs to do is point out that all of the reports that Senator Levin cites WERE provided to Congress prior to the vote on the resolution which allowed for a CONDITIONAL use of force.As long as the President is unwilling to do this, and as long as his supporters attack critics' patriotism and courage, he has no hope of convincing people that he wasn't being misleading during his Iraq War sales campaign.I hope your future postings will focus on whether the Administration documents cited by Senator Levin were in fact provided to Congress.One last note about suicide bombers -- many of them are from Arafat's Fatah faction, which is secular. Also, Saddam provided the Palestians with nothing that could have been used against Iraq.

So you're telling me the President can't substantiate the doubting intellgence was passed on to Congress. Kind of what I figured. So you change the subject.Saudi Arabia funded the families of palestian suicide bombers too.

The first comparison Levin makes right off the bat is flat out false. Saddam gave $20,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. It wasn't a group he could control and their motives weren't secular, otherwise they wouldn't care about a group of Jews on a very small strip of land.

his case.Senator Levin has posted a page comparing public statements made by Administration officials on central prewar Iraq claims and compares them to prewar intelligence documents that throw serious doubts on those claims.All the President has to do to prove his case that Democrats are "rewriting history" is simply to document that all members of Congress (or at least everyone on both intel committees) received the quoted documents that undermined Administration claims. If that's the case, then Congress did have the "same intelligence" as the President and should lay off of him. Congressmembers outside of the intelligence committees (or the 100 plus Democrats the President claims to have had the "same intelligence" as him) would have no one to blame than committee members of their own party who could have announced themselves unconvinced without revealing classified information.So why is the President and his advisors resorting to ad homineum attacks and repeating prewar utterances when they have such a simple way to conclusively demonstrate their innocence? Is it because they did not provide Congress with anything that didn't support their case? If so, Congress didn't have the same intelligence and the President's claims are false.

This is what the President said on Veterans Day:

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.

Surely there aren't more than a hundred pro-resolution Democrats on the House and Senate Intel committees? (Free free to do the math and prove me wrong) The President's clear message is that Congress had access to the SAME INTELLIGENCE that he had. If your claims are true, the President's are false.But even if there are more than a hundred Democrats on the House and Senate Intel committee, the President's claims still need evidence that what was passed to the intel committees was the same stuff that was presented to the President. In particular, were doubts about the particular pieces of intelligence that were available to the President prior to March 2003 available to the Intel committees at that time.I'd accept sworn testimony from committee Republicans that included a timeline. That's the sort of evidence the President should be offering, instead of attacking critics' patriotism.

"they need to prove that ALL members of Congress really did have access to the same intelligence that the Administration had."

Doesn't work that way Daniel, that's why there's an Intelligence Committee. If all of Congress had access to the same level of intelligence that would be hundreds of Congressmen and thousands of staffers. There would be leaks up the wazoo. Rockfeller had access and made stronger statements then Bush did. He then went and warned foreign countries that we were going to war long before we actually went. If Democrats voted for the war they did on the word of him and his not Bush.

Get better soon Daniel.

they need to prove that ALL members of Congress really did have access to the same intelligence that the Administration had. Only then can the President change the minds of the 22% of Republicans and the 54% of independents that believe statements like:

Dick Cheney deliberately misused or manipulated pre-war intelligence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in order to build support for war with Iraq.

If the Administration has kept decent records, this could be done without compromising classified information. Just take a few instances where the classified intelligence was known to the Administration to be of doubtful quality and show that doubts were passed on to Congress. Alternatively, show that these instances were not doubted at the time. There should be memos or reports released to Congress with dates to show this.One example I've seen cited is that the Administration was provided with a full classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in September 2002 that contained numerous caveats and cautions. This full NIE wasn't provided to the full Congress, but a summary supposedly stripped of all doubting statements was provided to the full Congress.In this case the Administration could show that either the summary DID contain information that weakened the case for war and Congressmembers failed to read it, or they could declassify the entire NIE and show that doubts did not exist.There are other examples regarding aluminum tubes, al-Qaeda ties offered by a source believed to be deliberately misleading CIA, etc. If the Administration tried to document case by case how ALL members of Congress had access to the ALL information available to the administration on Iraq, doubts about the President's honesty would evaporate. At least among Republicans and independents.I don't think he is able to do this, which is why has is resorted to the same tired ad-homineum attacks the President and his advisors have become famous for.

Poor Mikey.

If you don't want to try to refute the claims made by Senator Levin, try this set of assertions vs reality.The White House has dealt with the President's Daily Brief issue, but with none of the other claims.