Thursday :: Jul 31, 2003

The Times Maintains a Tough Line on Bush's Lies


by Steve

The New York Times today has two editorial pieces that give glimmers of hope that the mainstream media are maintaining the sharkpack mentality. First, in a scathing lead editorial today, the Times blasts Bush’s performance at his press conference yesterday, making the point that Bush is adrift when he tries to explain his tax cuts and Iraq, but seems to be lucid when he explains how he will use his large campaign war chest:

Mr. Bush's vague and sometimes nearly incoherent answers suggested that he was either bedazzled by his administration's own mythmaking or had decided that doubts about his foreign and domestic policies could best be parried by ignoring them.

Mr. Bush will simply not engage the issue of whether his administration exaggerated the Iraqi threat in the months leading up to the American invasion. When asked whether the United States had lost credibility with the rest of the world since neither weapons of mass destruction nor a strong Al Qaeda connection had been uncovered in Iraq, the president veered off into a tour through American history and the difficulty of coming up with an Iraqi version of Thomas Jefferson. He then skidded to a halt with the announcement that "I'm confident history will prove the decision we made to be the right decision."

Mr. Bush still hung onto his most well-worn buzzwords, however. Iraq was a "threat" — just as the tax cuts were "a job-creation program." The president and his advisers obviously still believe that the constant repetition of several simplistic points will hypnotize the American people into forgetting the original question.

Saddam Hussein was certainly a threat to his own people, and there is still an enormous amount to be gained if the United States can foster a prosperous, open society in Iraq. But that does not cancel out the fact that the primary reasons Washington gave for the invasion look increasingly suspect. That is a serious problem, both in terms of the nation's credibility and the reliability of American intelligence. Mr. Bush owes the nation more than a brushoff on these matters.

In the case of the economy, the president was stuck defending an indefensible strategy of piling up one unnecessary tax cut after another. Having helped to turn the promise of budget surpluses into the disappointment of rising deficits, Mr. Bush mimics his father's out-of-touch performance in the 1992 campaign by acting as if the country is in fine fiscal shape. It is hard to buy his assertion that his first concern is Americans who are out of work.

Given the rambling non-answers the president gave to questions about Iraq and the economy, it was interesting to hear how focused he was when someone asked how, with no opponent, he planned to spend $170 million or more on the primary. "Just watch me," Mr. Bush said concisely. There is one area in which the president's thinking is crystal clear.

And Bob Herbert in an op-ed slams the Administration for wasting the lives of soldiers in Iraq when we have no exit strategy, our leaders lie to us about their true motives, and are doing nothing of consequence to stop Al Qaeda or protect our country.

Those are good kids that we're sending into the shooting gallery called Iraq, and unless you have the conviction of a Bush or a Rumsfeld or a Bechtel or a Halliburton, you have to be nursing the sick feeling that each death is a tragic waste, and that this conflict is as much of a fool's errand as the war in Vietnam.

Why are these kids dying?

The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But instead of using all the means available to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the Bush administration became obsessed with the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the takeover of Iraq.

That is a very peculiar ordering of priorities.

The federal government issued public warnings this week after being alerted to potential new terror attacks against Americans by Al Qaeda, including the possibility of airline hijackings in the U.S. or overseas. President Bush said yesterday, "We're talking to foreign governments and foreign airlines to indicate to them the reality of the threat."

But even as the president was speaking, word was coming out that the Transportation Security Administration is trying to cut back its air marshals program to save money. The war in Iraq is costing scores of billions of dollars a month, and the president's tax cuts have grown so large they're casting shadows over generations to come. But we can't afford to fully fund a program to protect American airline passengers.

"When we are faced with more priorities than we have funding to support, we have to go through a process of trying to address the most urgent needs," said a spokesman for the security administration.

The credibility of the Bush administration is approaching meltdown. The White House won't level with the American people on the cost of the war, or the number of troops that are really needed, or the amount of taxpayer money that is being funneled to the politically connected corporations that have been given carte blanche for the reconstruction.

While the Bush crowd was happy to let the public believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow connected to the Sept. 11 attacks, it won't come clean about the real links between the Saudis and Al Qaeda. And you won't hear from the administration that the phantom weapons of mass destruction were never the real reason for the war, but merely the pretext. The real goals were to establish a military foothold in the region, remake the Middle East and capture control of Iraq's fabulous oil reserves.

Right now there is no viable plan for securing the peace in Iraq, and no exit strategy. There is no real plan for demolishing Al Qaeda and the genuine threat it poses to the security of all Americans. (Similarly, at home, there is no plan to get the economy moving and the millions of unemployed Americans back to work.)

Iraq is not Vietnam, where more than 58,000 Americans were killed. But it is like Vietnam in that deceptive leaders have maneuvered the country into a tragic situation that I do not believe Americans will support over time.

For the Bushes and the Rumsfelds, this is a grand imperial adventure, with press-conference posturing and wonderful photo-ops, like the president's "Top Gun" moment on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

For the youngsters condemned to the shooting gallery, it's a fearful exercise in survival in a conflict that has never been adequately explained.

And the killings don’t stop: two more US soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours, in attacks that are being called “brazen.” So much for those comments from David Gergen and other Administration cheerleaders that the situation was getting better since the killing of Saddam’s sons and the aggressive tactics of the US forces.

Steve :: 8:46 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!