Bush Told the Truth

It’s been interesting to see all the Bush administration weathercocks turning in unison in response to the ongoing grumbling about the dishonest case for war in Iraq. Or maybe they’re not weathercocks, but actually aspen groves, their leaves turning in unison because their roots connect them; I get confused by fancy metaphors.


First came that Norman Podhoretz article from Commentary the other day: Who is lying about Iraq? Kevin Drum did a good job of debunking Podhoretz’s argument: Marketing the war.

Then Bush himself weighed in with his Veterans Day remarks (President commemorates Veterans Day, discusses war on terror). The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus have some insightful observations about that: Asterisks dot White House’s Iraq argument. Or, as helpfully summarized by Philosoraptor in (Epistemic) sins of omission: Bush’s meta-lies:

…Bush is currently engaged in the same types of deception about the historical facts about his use of pre-war intelligence that he engaged in with regard to the intelligence at that time. That is, he’s using carefully-worded half-truths and exaggerations to try to fool people into believing that an equivocal case is crystal clear.

(Update: And Josh Marshall has a great response to Bush’s speech, too: What a sorry, sorry, unfortunate president…)

This kind of lying from Bush is very consistent. There’s an evil cleverness to how the arguments are crafted that’s characteristic of his most notable public statements. I assume (though I don’t know for a fact) that what we’re seeing here is the mind of Karl Rove at work. Having escaped the initial Plame-outing indictments, he’s been free to devote some attention to Bush’s free-falling poll numbers and the growing discontent with the war, and this latest pushback is his response.

The heart of that “evil cleverness” thing I’m talking about is the way the argument incorporates truths that are, in fact, quite damning of Bush himself. But it twists their meaning and misapplies them. I’m not sure, but I suspect that’s consciously done. It’s like a vaccination: by putting those arguments in Bush’s words, they pre-emptively frame critics’ use of the same arguments. “Hey!” Bush’s supporters can say later, “You’re saying the same thing Bush said. And it doesn’t undercut Bush’s argument, it’s part of his argument.” Well, yeah, but only if you’re willing to engage in overtly fallacious reasoning.

Here are a few examples from Bush’s Veterans Day speech:

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.

And this:

…it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

And this:

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges.

And this:

If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, in our generation and for the next.

All of those statements are true. The principles they describe are of vital importance. It’s just that they actually argue quite strongly against, rather than in favor of, Bush’s policies and actions.

16 Responses to “Bush Told the Truth”

  1. lawanda Says:

    Read the following quotes by fellow Democrats and take notice of the dates. They are all before W became president. So, we can’t blame W for misleading these guys or can we?? Hmm.. Let’s figure out a way. What do you think? Can we trust the Dems, too? Maybe the communist party would be better? Just exploring ideas.

    “One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
    – President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

    “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.”
    – President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

    “We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction.”
    – Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998

    “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
    – Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

    “[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
    Letter to President Clinton.
    – (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998

    “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
    – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

    “Hussein has … chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.”
    – Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

  2. jbc Says:

    Yeah, all those people during the Clinton administration believed Saddam was a threat. Funny, though: They didn’t think launching an invasion of him after puffing up the case against him with a lot of bullshit about nukes and direct threats to the US homeland was a good idea. Why not? Because it would have been a really stupid thing to do. And it remained a really stupid thing to do when Bush did just that.

    For Bush (and his echo chamber) to go around whining now about how “Democrats said Saddam was a threat, too!” is one of the weakest responses to a failed presidential policy I’ve ever seen.

    Way to show forthright, capable leadership, President McFuckup. Way to take responsibility for your decisions.


  3. lawanda Says:

    Yeah, I agree. Those stupid fuckin’ republicans. Thanks to them that fuckin’ murderer, liar, good for nothing sob was caught hiding in a rat hole. Never mind the fact that he had continuously kicked out the good for nothing UN, refused to show proof of his demolition of all weapons of mass destruction. Bush should have done nothing- just like Clinton and the rest did nothing. The world would be safer for sure.

    I’m so fuckin’ shocked that the Republican police patrol hasn’t deleted these emails. ..

    Go Commies!! Let’s give communisim a chance. Kick out all the stupid morons who believe in God.

  4. jbc Says:

    Actually, “doing nothing” is a more accurate description of what Bush did during his first 9 months in office, when presented with urgent “hair on fire” warnings about al-Qaeda’s efforts to attack the US. Clinton, during similar warnings regarding the millenium hijacking plot, mobilized a high-level leave-no-stone-unturned effort to figure out what the terrorists were up to and stop them. And guess what: The millenium plot failed. Unlike 9-11.

    You’re an idiot. You should stop listening to right-wing hate radio and actually educate yourself about what’s going on. Generations of brave Americans have died defending your right to have a voice in your own government, but you’d rather listen to pablum from Rush Limbaugh that helps you feel superior than actually exercise that right intelligently.

  5. lawanda Says:

    Excuse me, isn’t that what Lenin referred to the liberals in the western media as- “Useful Idiots.” Name calling speaks volumes about your intelligence.

    I simply listed facts in my first post. I’m not here to defend Bush. I’m here to call you a left wing hypocrite. You are a Neville Chamberlain. Do nothing. Pacify. Pacify. Stick your head in the sand and maybe perhaps the bad guys will like us and leave us alone… Oh, no, I forgot– we are the bad guys- the capitalist pigs- right?

    Due to my open mindness, I am not an ideologue who follows my party blindly! This Bush bashing is sickening based on the fact that your party talked and talked about Saddam but did NOTHING.

    You say that doing nothing is better than doing something. I disagree with that thought entirely. Clinton treated the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 as a police matter. He did nothing in response to the 1996 Khobar tower explosions, the 1998 African embassy explosions, and the USS Cole explosion in 2000. Oh, but hey at least he bombed an aspirin factory.

  6. lawanda Says:

    I forgot to mention the lovely Gore Commission, which was created as a way to look at improving aviation security. Oh, and it was headed by, of course, Al Gore.

    The commission recommended a computer based system of profiling (run now for your life), a 60 day test for matching bags with passengers, better screening and training, more bomb sniffing dogs, among other recommendations.

    What was Gore’s initial reaction? Well, just 4 days after his commission made these important recommendations, Al Gore came out showing immense support (September 5, 1996).

    However, after strong lobbying by the airline industry and the ACLU, he changed his tune.

    On September 19, 1996 Al Gore wrote to the Air Transport Association, “I want to make it very clear that it is not the intent of this administration or of the commission to create a hardship for the air transportation industry or to cause inconvenience to the traveling public.”

    Guess what happened next.

    Money, money, money came a gushing to the good old Democratic National Committee. Big airlines donated $627,000 to the Democrats by 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

  7. enkidu Says:

    jbc, it is near impossible to show the 34%ers any facts or opinions that don’t jibe with the WH/rightwing echo chamber. They just plain do not ‘believe’ in any fact that doesn’t shore up their increasingly delusional worldview. For example: torture is good! We need to torture anyone we feel like! Civil rights? habeus corpus? Bump that! Here’s another: the Republicans are the party of fiscal restraint! yeah…

    I found this rant about Rs vs Ds quite humorous. I didn’t write it, but you may enjoy it nonetheless. I hearby challenge any moonbat right wing nutjob that may read it to revise this along their own skewed vision of ‘what REALLY happened’. Should be quite insightful! Spin away neo-cons!

    Let’s look at the facts of Democrat vs Republicans in the last eighty years:

    Republican president brings us the Great Depression. When WWI veterans protest their abysmal treatment, same Republican president launches saber-drawn cavalry charge on them (led by three future icons named MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton).

    Democratic president leads economic recovery, brings electricity to rural America, creates social security, reigns in robber barons, creates minimum wage law
    Republicans: oppose social security, oppose anti-trust laws, oppose rural electrification, oppose all New Deal programs, oppose minimum wage.

    Democratic president before Pearl Harbor calls for draft, lend-lease act, aide to European allies, launches secret plan with General Marshall to prepare for war with Germany. After Pearl Harbor leads nation into a Total Wafare mode with brilliant oration, brilliant tactics, brilliant diplomacy. Transforms America into a super power. Wins World War II. Only president so popular he’s elected to four terms.

    Republicans before Pearl Harbor: oppose draft, oppose aiding our allies, preach “America First” and isolationism, downplay Nazi and fascist atrocities, urges appeasement of Hitler — “not our problem.” After Pearl Harbor, Republicans block legislation to let soldiers vote while overseas, combine forces with Southern Dixiecrats to defeat civil rights legislation, oppose integration of military, oppose G.I. Bill college benefits, oppose Roosevelt’s proposed economic bill of rights.

    Moderate Republican president inherits amazing postwar economy, does nothing to reign in the insanity of the McCarthy witch hunts. Escalates cold war and nuclear arms race. Sends advisors to Vietnam. Allows Soviet Union to get upper hand in space race. Honorable record on civil rights, using national guard to enforce landmark decisions of the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren earns place as second greatest Republian in history, after Lincoln.
    Democrats: See the beginnings of the Southern Strategy as Repulicans and segregationist Democrats consistently join forces.

    Democratic president inspires nation to do better with Peace Corps, Vista, ten-year challenge to reach the moon, the greatest engineering and scientific achievment in history. Faces down USSR in Cuban MIssile crisis. Allows escalation of involvement in Vietnam. Second Democratic president brings landmark civil rights, voting rights and environmental legislation into being. Legacy ruined by ill-fated Vietnam policies.

    Republican president conducts illegal bombing campaigns in Asia, loses war in Vietnam (but calls it “Peace with Honor”), ignores growing problems in Middle East, faces impeachment for WaterGate crimes but is pardoned by his handpicked successor (who replaces a Republican vice president also accused of crimes). Bright spot: Decent enviromental record (last Republican that can make that claim), detente, relations with China. Second Republican president in decades falls down alot.

    Democrats: Restores integrity to White House, brings Egypt and Israel together in historic, lasting peace, inherits Nixon’s stultified economy and gas crisis, efforts to free hostages from Iran undermined by Republican candidate for president.

    Republican President presides over largest peacetime military spending spree in world history, creates largest deficits in history (before Bush 43, that is), most corrupt government in the 20th Century (in terms of number of officials ousted, indicted or investigated for wrongdoing), flawed policies in Lebanon lead to hundreds of dead Marines, after which Republicans “cut and run,” invests untold billions in Star Wars program that still doesn’t work, invests billions in bomber with no mission and that still doesn’t work, makes up stories about welfare queens that don’t exist, goes on radio and forgets he’s president, orders nuclear attack on USSR –oops, just kidding!!! declares war on Grenada for no good reason (but we win – booya!)

    Democratic president cuts deficit, presides over best economy since 1950s, reforms welfare.
    Republicans launch impeachment over a blow job.

    Al Gore wins election. Crybaby Bush sues, Supreme Court appoints him. And you know where that got us: worst deficits ever, most pork ever, phony reasons for war, 2,000 dead, PlameGate, WMD-Gate, Delay indicted, Frist insider trading, religious right dictating Supreme Court appointments. Can you say 35 percent approval rating?

    Democrats win world war II, end depression, deliver prosperity, equality, social security, and envirommental protection.
    Republicans: preside over depression, mistreat veterans, oppose preparation for world war II, oppose social security, preside over witch hunts, lose Vietnam War, preside over out of control spending, enormous deficits, lots of pork and phony wars.

    Gee, wonder who we should vote for in 2008?

  8. treehugger Says:

    I am just happy that the walls are starting to crumble around this administation’s castle. At the very least, this president and administration will become a “lame duck” presidency no longer threatening the safety of America and the rest of the world.

    Indictments, scandals, mis-guided war, deficits, fumbled disiaster responses, dangerous cronysim…

    then you have people spouting off as if the “Dimocrats” are to blame for all of it. Thats okay though, because it’s a sign of desperation.

    Yup, just sit back and enjoy the show. That’s what I’ll be doing!!

  9. ethan-p Says:

    I’ll say it again. Both Democrats and Republicans are full of shit. Why all of this partisanship when both sides of the equation suck so much?

  10. treehugger Says:

    Because the one’s in power suck even more. My opinion anyways.

    I hear you though. I remember when I was a little kid my dad watching the news and it was showing a gathering of political leaders for a summit or something. I will never forget his words:

    “I don’t trust a single son-of-a-bitch in that whole room.”

    You go, Dad.

  11. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:


    Its bullshit like your post about how great the dems vs republicans are that makes guys like ethan-p and I think you’re all partisan assholes.

    To quote the Wolf “Lets not start sucking each others dicks yet.” Lets look at the decades wtih a different spin, just to see if we can.

    1940s: FDR actually fighting more conservative Democratic elements Roosevelt as concerned with ending European Imperialism (ie Britain) as defeating Axis powers. Generally having little to do with strategy overall. Ike won much of Europe, like McArthur won much of the Pacific. Next Democrat in office becomes first and only President to use nuclear weapons and begins ‘police action’ on the Korean peninsula. Truman also intrumental in creation of state of Israel (Liberals say Israel Bad!) by recognizing them formally 11 minutes after declaring themselves a nation. Also did some good things, but since we’re spinning won’t be mentioned.

    1950s: Republic Dwight D. Eisenhower ends Korean War begun by democratic predecessor, ushers in era of economic prosperity. Cosistently rated one of the top 10 presidents.

    1960s: Democrat becomes first President to be elected on the basis of looks. Responisble for Bay of Pigs Fiasco. Does nothing to protest the erection of the Berlin Wall. Brings world closer to nulcear aramgeddon than any other President, playing brinksmanship during Cuban Missile Crisis. Begins inlovlement in Vietnam.

    I’m cutting off here because I have to leave for work soon. However the point is the same. Partisanship hurts us all. This is turning into a real us vs. them type arguement. And as we can see, selectively presenting the facts is complete bullshit and can be done really easily to paint either party in a positive or negative light. Remember, most of the Congressmen who opposed civil rights were southerners, who were also democrats. It was that damn dirty Republican Lincoln who freed the slaves.

    Quit looking at this as a black & white, dems good, republicans bad across the ages thing, and lets not start sucking each others dicks quite yet.

  12. enkidu Says:

    Not sufficiently moonbat wingnut crazy enough

    McArthur won WWII? almost lunatic enough
    we could use some leaders like Ike or Lincoln – today’s crop are a sorry lot

    I posted someone else’s rant as an amusing aside on the whole partisanship thing. I am not a registered D or R voter, so it is extra funny for me. I note you don’t actually refute any of the good D vs bad R items (in general I think the guy’s rant is pretty accurate, tho *cough* kinda slanted), but instead you make a pretty thin list of good R vs bad D items. Hmmmmm, Ds lead us thru WWII and beyond, while Rs supported appeasement, or neo-fascist leanings of their own. OK. R inheritor of outstanding 50s era economy does pretty well (see moderate Rs work pretty well, just like moderate Ds). Dissing JFK for the Cuban missile crisis is so upside down that it is hard to respond without being insulting (please insert hurtful insult here, your pick).

    Anyway, I give your effort a C-
    not crazy enough, maybe because you aren’t a die hard 34%er? perhaps there is hope that you may eventually be persuaded that the earth goes around the sun, the sky is blue, water is wet and Iraq was a huge f***ing mistake.

    btw 20% of Americans believe the Sun goes around the Earth – I call these people idiots, while Bush calls these nimrods his base.

    “It is turtles all the way down!”

  13. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’m actually not sure if people got it or not. I feel like saying you hold a viewpoint here thats a little more conservative here is like saying you only are moderately into smoking crack. My point is that blind partisanship is dumb and that the events of a given President’s term(s) can be easily skewed to one side or the other.

    I also really wanted to quote that Pulp Fiction line and knew I couldn’t at work.

    And I’ve uh, never said the Iraq war wasn’t a huge mistake. Thats the other thing I love about lies, its the only place we can go to make really, really wild assumptions.

  14. enkidu Says:

    why should I be polite to someone who starts their retort with this:
    “Its bullshit like your post about how great the dems vs republicans are that makes guys like ethan-p and I think you’re all partisan assholes.

    To quote the Wolf “Lets not start sucking each others dicks yet.”

    and then wraps up with “lets not start sucking each others dicks quite yet”

    wow – that sure seems fair and balanced, huh? If you actually read my intro to the rant, I didn’t write it, I thought it amusingly one sided, and I challenged any winger to respond. Your response was lame. Weak. Poor. All you are left with are insults (not even any humor – sigh). Perhaps you are a right winger with that special Jeff Gannon – Talon News cut to your jib, but frankly that is not my cup of tea. Thanks anyway!

    Who knows, maybe after another decade or two, we libs can get closeted wingers the same rights as everyone else in our country. You know, like equal protections in the law, spousal rights (go ahead call it marriage, civil unions, whatever, I just think equal would be the ‘right’ thing to do), anti-hate crime legislation and the like. Maybe then you will feel safe in coming out. Until then? You go girl! (snap! snap!)

  15. ohmelas Says:

    I wrote an article to this end: Defending Liars: Rebutting the Critics of the Bush Administration. http://www.howardsalter.com/index_02.htm. The reporting on this issue has been very anti-bush and unfortunately there are mountains and mountains of evidence to the contrary. If you’re swimmin’ in the I hate bush kool-aid you’re missing some of the real deal but since I’ll be honest about my bias, let’s leave the name calling alone and talk about the the big picture.

  16. jbc Says:

    Hm. The domain howardsalter.com is registered, but it doesn’t currently have any name service, apparently.

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