18 February 2004

George Bush, Make-Believe President

This is an entirely new doctrine of war for the United States. In a Cincinnati speech five months before the start of the Iraq war, Bush described it thusly, explaining why the U.S. had to act 'now' against Hussein: 'America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.'

But we knew then that the Iraqis no longer had a credible nuclear program, and we know now that they also didn't have the weapons about which President Bush said there was 'no doubt.'

It wasn't Iraq that was peddling nuclear technology to rogue nations and terrorists. It was Pakistan, our 'ally' in the war against terror. Clear evidence shows that Washington knew this several years ago. Yes, President Bush knew it when he took the oath of office in January 2001. And he never told us, not even after 9-11.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy - after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion by American-trained Cuban exiles - didn't point fingers at the CIA or anyone else. Instead, he told the National Security Council that 'we're not going to have any search for scapegoats . . . the final responsibilities of any failure is mine, and mine alone.'

George Walker Bush, who said he was going to 'restore honor and dignity to the White House,' could learn something from that history. Truth is better than fiction when you're sending your youth into battle.

This is the heart of George's AWOL problem. He claims to be a war president (as though that was an excuse) but his National Guard service turns out to have been an exercise in cronyism and absenteeism rather than any actual danger. The issue's become a proxy for other issues, like the war claims and the fiscal policy, where finding definite facts is so much harder.

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