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 Ã¢Â€Â” 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."