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  xWednesday, September 25, 2002

bush takes the gloves off

There's a lot on the Iraq debate I wish I had addressed, and still hope to, but this one I can't let pass:
Speaking on the issue of homeland security before a fundraiser for Republican Senate candidate Doug Forrester, the president said, "The House responded, but the [Democratic-controlled] Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people. I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does not allow this president and future presidents to better keep the American people secure."

Fine, then veto the darn thing and move on; the Homeland Security bill is a mess anyway. How dare Bush imply that Democrats--or anyone outside of the lunatic fringe of American politics--are "not interested in the security of the American people." Especically at a time when Bush has submitted a resolution that would give him carte blanche authority to do pretty much as he pleases in the Middle East for Congress to rubber-stamp approve. Perhaps the President got carried away by his administration's repeated assertions that anything short of full-scale war is doing nothing at all. Perhaps the President wanted to deter the Congress from approving a more limited authorization. Perhaps the President feels the end justifies the means. No matter which way you slice it, this is an odious piece of divisive rhetoric that's better suited to certain rabid warbloggers I don't read than the Fundraiser-in Chief. It's utterly indefensible, it stinks on ice, and the President indeed owes an apology to the American people and especially the Democrats he slandered.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo--who basically supports getting rid of Saddam--has pointed out that the hawks' case is filled with unabashed lies--indeed, Big Lies, as they're repeated often enough to be accepted as fact even though they've never really proven--or even provided convincing evidence for--their case.
...[L]et me discuss with you for a moment what I find the most difficult about this debate. The more ardent supporters of regime change lie a lot. I really don't know how else to put it. I'm not talking about disagreements over interpretation. I mean people saying things they either know to be false or have no reason to believe are true. Perhaps the word 'lie' is a very slight exaggeration. Perhaps it's better to say they have a marked propensity to assert as fact points for which there is virtually or absolutely no evidence.

But for the most part, it's fallen to the President's hatchet men advisers like Rumsfeld and Cheney to issue the whoppers. This time, it's straight from Bush's own mouth. Regardless of their positions on the war, it's time for bloggers, pundits and politicians (except, appartently, Trent Lott) to acknowledge in no uncertain terms that this time, Bush has gone too far. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

Update: I'm indebted to the Reverend Gregory for providing a fuller quote of Bush's remarks in a comment thread on Oliver Willis' blog:
So I ask congress to give me the flexibility necessary to be able to deal with the true threats of the 21st century by being able to move the right people to the right place at the right time so we can better assure America that we are doing everything possible. The house responded but the senate is more interested in special interests in Washington, and not interested in the security of the American people. I will not accept a department of homeland security that does not allow this president and future presidents (the flexibility) to better keep the American people secure. People are working hard to get it right in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats. You see this isn't a partisian issue. This is an American issue. This is an issue which is vital to our future...

Props to the Prez for acknowledging Democratic efforts, but that doesn't change the fact that he's although he may be giving with one hand, he's taking away with the other. His quote may have been "taken out of context," but he said what he said.

I also caught National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where she said this:
...if you actually read those comments, the president said that some Senators had had a tendency to put special interests ahead of national security...

The President's words again (emphasis mine):
...the senate is more interested in special interests in Washington, and not interested in the security of the American people.

Nothing about "some," "tend to," or any of the retroactive softeners of Rice's revisionism explanation in trying to claim "there simply isn't any politicization here." But let's face it, even if this were the first time Bush himself has used such sharp rhetoric, is there any denying that various Administration figures--Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft spring to mind--have not hesitated to characterize dissent as not only unpatriotic but tantamount to aiding the enemy?