Several letters to the Washington Post editorial board said what I wanted to tell them about their asinine editorial criticizing Gore's recent spot-on critique of Bush's Iraq prevarications
The editorial associated Mr. Gore's speech with "every conspiratorial theory of the antiwar left." But Mr. Gore was criticizing not just the administration but the Washington press corps.
The press, including until recently The Post, has failed to challenge the administration on its factually challenged approach to policy. Polls show that the public is deeply misinformed about the lack of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda (or the 9/11 attacks), and about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Who is responsible for this?
The Post also dismissed Mr. Gore's criticism of President Bush's economic and environmental policies because "many other people support those policies." That's no response, of course, but even so Mr. Bush's approval rating has fallen to 55 percent because of those policies. And by the way, the fact that 98 senators voted for the Patriot Act doesn't mean that it's not an extreme invasion of privacy rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
Finally, The Post accused Mr. Gore of trying to "have it both ways" by "pandering to anti-Bush passion while protecting his national-security flank." But only a partisan supporter of the president would argue that criticizing Mr. Bush is inconsistent with national security.
Nowhere in Al Gore's December 1998 commentary does he suggest that the only way to deal with Saddam Hussein is to stage a preemptive strike -- or any kind of strike, for that matter.
A President Gore might have continued to maintain that Saddam Hussein was dangerous in the same way that President Bush admits that Kim Jong Il of North Korea is dangerous. It doesn't follow that he would have emptied the treasury, put American lives on the line and increased the possibility of terrorist strikes against Americans.
Al Gore's criticism laid out the fault lines of this administration's tactics in everything from foreign policy to the economy. He demonstrated how the Bush administration decides on a position and then gathers tidy bits of information to justify its action -- regardless of whether the information can stand scrutiny.
And the creme de la creme:
The Post's editorial said that Al Gore had "blurred" vision when he "breathlessly" said that the public was fooled by the Bush administration's "systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology."
Might it also be said that The Post breathlessly gushed in a Feb. 6 editorial headlined "Irrefutable" the day after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented the administration's case against Saddam Hussein in the United Nations? Much of that case has been refuted -- e.g., aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons, mobile biological laboratories, long-range drones. Sort of consistent with Mr. Gore's "effort to manipulate facts" argument.
(I read them this morning, but was reminded to post them via Eschaton)