By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Yet, just like the top congressional Democrats, most mainstream media outlets weren’t about to risk offending the public by appearing skeptical or un-American during the run-up to war. They gave the merest olé-sweep of their capes at Bush’s charge toward Baghdad and then hopped on his back for the ride.
Of course, such capitulation seemed natural back in March and April, when we were crushing a Third World army. It’s now mid-July, and each day we wake to news of more American casualties (33 American soldiers have been killed, and 81 have died altogether, since Bush landed on that aircraft carrier). The weapons of mass destruction haven’t been found. While Saddam makes his basement tapes, American GIs are complaining about being targets in midsummer Iraq (imagine wearing a flak jacket in the 110-degree heat) on a mission they’ve come to think impossible, even crazy. To top it all off, Rumsfeld last week revealed that the occupation of Iraq will cost nearly $100 billion over the next two years. Predictably, people have begun comparing Iraq to Vietnam (although this is a grievous insult to both Ho Chi Minh and millions of Iraqis who didn’t exactly see Saddam as their George Washington).
Emboldened by this turn of events, the Democrats and the so-called liberal media have finally begun going after Bush’s arguments for the war, albeit in a way that gives them a safe foothold. That is, they aren’t yet going after his mistaken geopolitical presuppositions or the other whoppers (like Saddam’s links to 9/11) that he used to push the country into war. Instead, they’ve fixated on those 16 words (hardly Bush’s worst) precisely because such microscopic analysis appears factual, not ideological. It was precisely this sort of lie that took down Nixon, and if you listen closely, you can already hear the familiar lyrics of that boomer hit “The Ballad of Bob and Carl.” With dreary inevitability, bloggers are writing of “Nigergate,” Howard Dean has begun asking, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” and I sit waiting, gun in hand, for the first TV pundit to complete the trifecta by solemnly informing me that it’s always the cover-up that gets you. It was 30 years ago, folks, 30 years.
There is, of course, enormous pleasure in watching the Bush team squirm, yet I fear that the Democrats (and the media) will overplay their hand. On KCRW’s Left, Right & Center the other day, Roberto “Che” Scheer was already blaring about impeachment. Now, granted Scheer specializes in tone-deaf stridency (hasn’t he learned anything from the charming Ms. Huffington?), yet he’s not alone. Many of my Bush-hating friends express their own anger in these same terms; I myself am happy to have the idea out there. Still, before we get too ecstatic at the vision of a manacled Bush in The Hague, we should remember that the Republicans blew it by demanding Clinton’s impeachment when his approval ratings were the same as Bush’s are now.
At the moment, it’s far from clear that the majority of Americans think there’s a cover-up, let alone a crime — or give a damn about the yellowcake story at all.
In fact, Bush is far more likely to be done in by the steady drip-drip-drip of casualties in Iraq than by his lies in the State of the Union address, however reprehensible they may be.
The media may not like this, but most Americans accept the fact that presidents bend the truth, just as they know that even the most clean-cut young NBA star might well cheat on his wife with a blond 19-year-old, even one who’s not entirely willing.
John Powers’ e-mail address is email@example.com.