Monday, September 22, 2003

Whatever Gave You That Idea?

This one basically wrote itself. The same day that Rep. J. D. Hayworth decided to prove that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, President Bush decided he'd pushed that one about as far as he could, and where did people get that idea anyway? That's the problem when the spin changes and you don't get the advance word. But hey, it's not like Bush decided to fire some people in the White House travel office or anything, so we'll just let it pass.

East Valley Tribune, Sep. 21, 2003

Writing a column in advance can be hazardous to your political health -- especially if the party line changes while you’re still using the old index card.

Think how noted foreign affairs expert Rep. J. D. Hayworth must feel, getting caught dispensing the old line the very day the Bush administration switches gears.

Here’s J.D., in the National Review Online, Sept. 18:

“The Bush haters are also befuddled that most Americans believe Saddam Hussein had a role in the September 11 attacks. In fact, there is a definite 9/11-Saddam link, although probably not a direct one. . . .

In police terms, Saddam would be an accessory to the 9/11 attacks. . . .

[T]he American people are right to believe that Saddam ran a terrorist state that threatened American interests.”

And here’s the Bush administration, wondering where J. D. could ever have thought there’s a connection between Saddam and 9/11:

“No,” Bush told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session at the White House, where he sought to set the record straight. “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with Sept. 11.”

. . . . On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld waded into the issue during a Pentagon briefing. Asked if he believed the poll that found most Americans convinced that Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, Rumsfeld said he had “not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that.”

“We know that he was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities,” Rumsfeld said. “But on that specific one, no.”

. . . . Earlier, fielding similar questions during his afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the administration had never claimed a connection between Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks.

-- “Bush says no evidence that Hussein was involved with 9-11,” Dallas Morning News, Sept. 18, 2003.

And Oceana has always been at war with Eurasia.

If President Bush, and those who support our troops by writing brave editorials, are surprised by the public’s failure to embrace this past week’s interim request for another $87 billion to tide things over in Iraq and Afghanistan for another couple of months, then perhaps the administration might want to consider how they “packaged” the build-up to war in the first place.

To start this war, Bush wrote to Congress that invading Iraq was necessary to “protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and that the war was an essential part of “necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” (Text of Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Mar. 18, 2003).

Now, not only wasn’t that the real reason for the war; it supposedly was never the reason for the war. President Bush can write letters to Congress saying one thing while really meaning another, because that’s what was needed to convince Americans that we should have our troops conquer Iraq.

As Prince Farquaad says in Shrek, “Some of you may die. But it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.”

Let me credit Tom Tomorrow, who found the Hayworth column online and made the same connection, and to for retrieving the “I’ve got an idea -- let’s put on a war!” White House letter.

Welcome to the “responsibility era,” kids.

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