Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Left Lies About Bush Lying

Yesterday I was chatting by phone with my inside-the-beltway mother when she said she used to think John McCain was OK until he started clarifying his positions, and now she thinks he's just another awful Republican.

The clarified position she offered up as an example: A willingness to be at war in Iraq for 100 years.

"Come on, Mom," I said, "you know that's not what he said."

"Well, he had to clarify it later."

"No, when the media and the Democrats started asking ridiculous questions, he had to explain it to them. He's a military man, Mom, and he knows there has been a 100-year war since the 1400s."

That turned the subject to the viciousness of the questioning in this year's race, and we had the sort of good chat friends have when they agree on something -- but it's troubling that someone as intelligent and experienced with the media as my mother would toss the "100-year war" canard about so easily.

Which brings me, lackadaisically, to "Bush Lied."

In today's WaPo, Fred Hiatt runs through last week's Rockefeller report on the administration's actions prior to the war, which concluded:
"In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent."
This from Rockefeller, who said in 2002:
"There has been some debate over how 'imminent' a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can."
Hiatt's report on the report is simple. He runs through all the potential "lies" -- WMDs, associations with terrorists, nuclear weapons programs, etc. -- and after each, quotes actual words from the actual report, "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

That's straightforward enough, but the Left does not want to give up that easily on "Bush Lied." Two loudmouths of the Left, Firedoglake and Rising Hegemon, both rise to defend the Bush Lied lie.

First, of course, they have to personally attack Hiatt. The Left always starts by shooting the messenger.

Firedoglake calls him " the Washington Post's Chief War Apologist," and accuses him of using Bush to "excuse his own record of enabling." Rising Hegemon provides this: "It must be copious in that Hiatt-scented colon that Fred puts his head up."

As if reading from the same playbook, both turn to a Walter Pincus article in today's WaPo to rebut Hiatt, and both refer to it, curiously, as "The Walter Pincus page." Who's talking points did they get? Anyway, here's the money quote:
There is an important line in last week's Senate intelligence committee report on the Bush administration's prewar exaggerations of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. It says that the panel did not review "less formal communications between intelligence agencies and other parts of the Executive Branch."

More important, there was no effort to obtain White House records or interview President Bush, Vice President Cheney or other administration officials whose speeches were analyzed because, the report says, such steps were considered beyond the scope of the report.

One obvious target for such an expanded inquiry would have been the records of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a group set up in August 2002 by then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.
What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic leftist denial strategy. Faced with actual documents and chronicled facts that rebut their position, rather than accept the documents, they ask about what wasn't asked -- and since we don't know what the answers are to what wasn't asked, they write the fictional answers and (to their own minds at least) win the argument.

They assume there's a smoking gun in what wasn't asked and who wasn't interviewed, even though logic tells us that since every other line of inquiry got to the same "Bush didn't lie" point, that if the un-asked were asked, we'd reach the same conclusion: "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." After all, everything else was.

And as is so often the case with Leftist denial, the practice obfuscates the important to illuminate the irrelevant. We should be asking ourselves, "Why were all these matters generally substantiated by intelligence information," instead of ignoring that in order to prop up the threatened "Bush lied" bumper sticker and T-shirt industry.

Hat-tip: memeorandum

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