Friday, December 02, 2005

Bush Like Cheating Spouse Asking for Another Chance

President Bush's Iraq-strategy speech on Wednesday, while on the surface appearing to be a military pep-talk, was actually intended to address a domestic unrest manifested most profoundly in his plummeting approval ratings. The underlying theme of the speech – which was mainly a rehash of the same old, stay-the-course mentality -- was that Americans should forget much of what his government has done since 2001 and extend a renewed public trust going forward.

This is very much the political equivalent of the philandering husband asking his wife to trust his fidelity after getting caught with his pants down for the tenth time.

The president said this to future Naval and Marine officers on Wednesday: "Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the American people.... I want you to know that while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind you."

Indeed we do. We support and trust the troops -- it's the president himself who people no longer trust.

President Bush's plea for patience and faith from the American people flies in the face of one major piece of reality: This administration has decidedly earned every bit of distrust and cynicism they have engendered.

We were told as a matter of fact (and not speculation) that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda and the events of September 11. That was not true.

We were told scores of times by every high-level person in the Executive Branch – including the president and vice president – that the U.S. had proof positive that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That was not true.

We have been told that flawed intelligence does not equal malicious intent on the White House's part to defraud the American people and then The Downing Street Memos surface from British intelligence to announced that President Bush was, in their words, "fixing the intelligence" around a pre-determined goal of invading Iraq.

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), appearing on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday reacted this way to Vice President Cheney's indignation over charges that they manipulated pre-war intelligence.

"Let me ask you, Tim, a rhetorical question. He [Cheney] sat on your program in the fall before the war and said, 'Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his nuclear weapons.' I simultaneously said, 'There is simply no evidence to sustain that. None. Zero. None.' I said it then, I said it again, I say it now. I demand anyone put forward for me, classified or in any other form, any evidence to sustain the assertion the vice president of the United States made that Saddam Hussein said to Tim Russert he, Saddam, has reconstituted his nuclear weapons. That is a flat misrepresentation of the facts.

We have been told ad nauseam lately that Congress had all the same pre-war intelligence as Team Bush and thus shares full culpability with the White House for the Iraq war. Not true.

Republican Senator John Warner refuted that on Meet the Press last weekend in this exchange with host Tim Russert:

Russert: But even back then, Senator Warner, and this is really important. This is what you said on August 27, 2002. "As I read and follow the debate, there appears to be a `gap' in the facts possessed by the Executive Branch and the facts possessed by the Legislative Branch."

The White House is now saying that you had every bit of intelligence that they had and yet, leading up to the war debate, you were saying there was a gap between what you knew and what the president knew.

Senator Warner: Well, I stand by that statement also. There are times in which I feel that we do not have the full knowledge, and as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I have done my very best to assure that members of our committee do get the full intelligence. I also serve on the Intelligence Committee. And I feel very strongly that that gap should never exist. And apparently, at that time, I was of the opinion and I stand by the statement.

Said Biden on the same show: "We did not have access to the same stuff that the president gets every morning."

So, in other words, the Bush administration is lying about that too.

Americans were told by Press Secretary Scott McClellan that nobody in the White House was leaking classified intelligence information and the president said that anyone found to be doing so would be fired. Not true and not true.

We now know from a preponderance of the evidence in Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case that Karl Rove did indeed spill CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity to the media. Why is he still there and operating with a top secret security clearance?

And most recently, we've seen the Bush administration greatly exaggerate the readiness of newly-trained Iraqi troops, despite a visit to Congress just two months ago from General George Casey, the top ground commander in Iraq, in which he told Congress that only one Iraqi battalion could operate independently of U.S. forces.

I look at all of this and wonder whatever happened to the old Republican credo of personal responsibility. It has apparently been replaced with official misleading and lying so pervasive that it barely even makes the news any longer.

And, like the cheating and contrite hubby whose wife finally changes the locks on the front door, the president shouldn't be surprised that his word no longer has any value and that his pleas for trust now fall on deaf ears.