George W. Bush Pretends Iraq Wasn’t his Fault

Robert Scheer has pointed out, in this piece at The Nation, that people are beginning to get tired of Bush’s repetitive rhetoric on the War in Iraq. For example, take this episode from a Bush speech in Cleveland:

Perhaps most on target was an elderly gentleman who cited what he said were the three main reasons for going to war in Iraq–WMD, Iraq’s ties to the September 11, 2001, terrorists and the alleged purchase of nuclear material from Niger–and then noted dryly that all three of these rationales turned out to be false.

Unfortunately for the President, the American people remember each of the reasons he gave for the war, and we are beginning to realize that some of those reasons were untrue. The curious thing, though, is not so much that the President was wrong, as that he refuses to admit it, thereby opening the way toward learning, and better government. Instead, he makes ridiculous claims like this:

“That’s a great question,” began Bush by way of dissembling. “First, just if I may correct a misperception. I don’t think we ever said–at least I know I didn’t say–that there was a direct connection between September 11 and Saddam Hussein.”

Really? So when he said in his May 1, 2003, “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln that “we have removed an ally of al Qaeda,” he meant a different gang with the same name as the one blamed for the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon?

This President’s use of language bears watching. He is always careful to imply things, or to let his lieutenants say them, rather than being caught in a lie. Take, for example, his explanation of his domestic wiretapping program (from the State of the Union Address):

I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.

The deception here is artful. Those previous Presidents, for example, were operating before FISA existed, and so their actions were not illegal. By this argument, I might note, Bush could just as well claim the right to own slaves (like George Washington). So, while he is not lying, he is certainly not telling the truth.

This is a common occurrence. Compare this cowardly behavior with Clinton’s outright admission that he made a mistake in his personal life, his apology for not being forthright with the American people, and his promise to try to do better. This was met with impeachment. Meanwhile, W continues to claim a weird mix of ignorance, bureaucratic inefficiency, and technical non-lying as cover for the fact that he either made a mistake or else purposefully deceived his people. Either should be shameful.