Monday, June 09, 2003

Fool Us Once, Shame on You. Fool Us Twice, Shame on Us

Remember "yellow rain," the first time we got overstated, and ultimately inaccurate, claims about weapons of mass destruction (although that's not what they were called back then)? Are any of you even old enough to remember yellow rain? Alexander Haig? There's nostalgia for you.

A brief dialogue:

L: The evidence that Bush lied about Iraq having vast supplies of weapons of mass destruction is as solid as the evidence of a connection between Iraq and Al-Queda.

R: But that's preposterous. There's no evidence that Bush lied, only leaks and assertions from people with an axe to grind and who want to persuade people based on emotion, not fact.

L: Exactly.

Mendacity and Mythmaking

East Valley Tribune, Jun. 8, 2003

Critics of the Bush administration’s overselling, to put it mildly, of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction probably fear looking foolish if U.S. forces eventually find some (any?) WMD.

Fate is indeed callous, and worrying comes naturally to me; after all, I’m Jewish, and a Democrat, but I repeat myself. But the more I think about it, the less I fret.

First, nobody who sold us on the idea of Iraqi WMD now seems the least bit concerned. Does President Bush look like he’s worried about where all those nasty weapons went?

If before the war Iraq actually had WMD, but now that we’re occupying the country and haven’t found any, doesn’t that make any Iraqi WMD completely unaccounted for, and more likely available for acquisition by terrorists? Wouldn’t that make us less safe?

(One of my less coherent critics attacked my last column because I hadn’t heard that before the war Iraq put all its WMD on two ships that were sunk. Gosh -- some of you ‘wingers will believe anything.)

Bush, Rumsfeld, and the rest look like fraternity boys who sent the new pledges on a snipe hunt. Now that we’ve scoured Iraq and found nary a snipe (just two trailers that, if you eliminate all other possibilities, might have been snipe pens) they’re having a tough time keeping up the pretense. Some joke, huh?

Too bad in this particular snipe hunt, dozens of our servicemen and women had to die -- and are still dying -- far from home. But life is better in Iraq now, and after all, isn’t that why, by a 5-4 vote, we elected George W. Bush?

Second, it’s not the first time these guys tried a WMD scare. Some twenty years ago, the Reagan administration and The Wall Street Journal editorial page used similarly unreliable and unconfirmed reports from exiles to allege that the Soviets had used biological weapons in Southeast Asia. But the “yellow rain” mycotoxin claims, despite their repetition and vehemence, were disproved by independent scientists.

But that generation of neocons never paid any price to their credibility. Instead, the false and overblown WMD claims helped justify their defense programs and plans. Maybe this generation also believes that once you convince yourself, then it’s not really a lie, is it?

And speaking of Bill Clinton, Bush’s critics should get to fire away with nary a concern because Republicans never worried about getting anything wrong about Clinton. So shouldn’t we get to pummel Bush without worry, too?

Remember the FBI files, Mena airport, the Travel Office, the Arlington National Cemetery waivers, the haircut at LAX, the trashing of the White House on moving out, the Hillary gift registry? Remember Whitewater itself, or Al Gore saying that he had “invented” the Internet?

None of those claims were accurate, but ultimately it didn’t matter, to what most people think of either the Clinton administration or of all those Republicans who huffed and puffed and never once apologized for getting anything wrong.

It’s heads-I-win, tails-you-lose. Bush got swoons from columnists because he stayed away from the return of the U.S. Air Force crew captured by the Chinese in 2001. The conservatives admired his restraint; after all, Clinton could never have resisted putting himself into the limelight like that.

Heck, Clinton was such a self-aggrandizing egotist, he might stolen the spotlight by meeting the crew by landing on an aircraft carrier or something. That would have been flagrant and terrible if Clinton had done it. Of course, Bush doing it is entirely different.

No wonder these guys take all the tax cuts for themselves. “Stretching the truth” to justify a war is just standard operating procedure.

No comments: