December 25, 2003


Lying Along the Potomac: 10 fibs by our president (David Corn, 12/24/03, LA Weekly)

[A]s he enters the home stretch of his first (or final) term, let’s review — in loose chronological order — 10 significant falsehoods that Bush wielded this year. [...]

2 Months after his January State of the Union address, Bush received flak
for having maintained in that speech that Saddam Hussein had been shopping
for uranium in Africa. And the White House conceded it should not have
permitted that line to stay in the speech. But Bush had told a more
important whopper in that address. He noted that the International Atomic
Energy Agency “confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced
nuclear weapons development program.” This was lying by omission, for he
left out the fact that the IAEA had also reported that it had dismantled
this nuclear program. [...]

5 On May 1, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush stood beneath a “Mission
Accomplished” banner and declared that “major combat operations in Iraq have
ended.” That was more wishful thinking than a lie. But he also said, “No
terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi
regime, because the regime is no more.” That was a disingenuous remark. [...]

8 In early August, before departing for a monthlong “working” vacation, Bush
said, “We’re doing everything we can to protect the homeland.” That was a
reassuring statement, but not an accurate one. [...]

10 In a November speech, Bush credited President Ronald Reagan for having
energized a worldwide movement for democracy that led to “new democracies in
Latin America” and to the South Africa government’s 1990 release of Nelson
Mandela. While Reagan had pushed for democracy in the Soviet bloc, he did
the opposite elsewhere. His administration cozied up to the fascistic junta
of Argentina and an El Salvador military that massacred peasants. It also
normalized relations with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Okay, so they're mostly of the nature of differences of opinion, omissions, and inaccuracies, rather than lies, but it's the last that is truly outrageous. Ronald Reagan and his administration, after all, directly liberated Grenada; helped the Contras liberate Nicaragua; aided El Salvador in its war against Marxist rebels; sided with Britain against the Argentine generals over the Falklands; and our support helped General Pinochet to democratize Chile. In fact, the only black mark against President Reagan in Latin America is that he left office without removing Fidel Castro. But even after you shear away all these direct truths, the broader point that President Bush made is obviously true: it was Ronald Reagan facing down the Soviets that triggered the fantastic growth in democracies across the globe, including Latin America. Meanwhile, the only reason we could afford a democratic South Africa was because with our victory in the Cold War it was no longer strategically important.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2003 4:10 PM

Why would anyone who thinks that he, even tangentially, is involved in politics gratuitously attack Reagan? If Howard Dean running hard to the left to get around George Bush would be a disaster, volunteering to also run against Reagan would be apocalyptic.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 25, 2003 9:12 PM

Actually, no. 5 is like saying the sky is purple. If the Iraqi regime is gone, then we can be sure no WMD will go to Al-Qaida or Ansar Al-Islam or any other group from Saddam (unless they already did).

David, you are right - attacking Bush like a howler monkey is just silly, but to go after Reagan is insane. It would be like running against Roosevelt in 1948. But for people like David Corn, the battle is always against Reagan.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 25, 2003 9:42 PM

Whenever a lefty intones, in the context of the Cold War, words like "fascistic junta," or "military dictatorship," or "Right-wing dictatorship," what he really means is "a country that will not tolerate a Communist movement within its broaders."

Now I lay it down as a sound principle of statecraft that it is good thing not to tolerate Communist movements.

Posted by: Paul Cella at December 26, 2003 8:04 AM