Liberal Liars

The lying president has finally fessed up.

After weeks of blaming minions and forcing them to fall on their swords, President George W. Bush, at one of his rare press conferences at the end of July, admitted “personal responsibility” for making the now widely-discredited charge in his state of the union speech in January that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

If you parsed his words, however, he did not acknowledge that the false claim is actually false or even that he was unwise in making the false assertion.

No, his carefully caliberated admission was simply that “I take personal responsibility for everything I say.” Not this statement, but every statement.

For all the public flagellation to which the Bush administration has been subjected in the media, there was little follow-up by the usually loud-mouth journalists on what the nature of that public responsibility, or its consequences, for that matter, is.
In any event, the controversy over the false assertion by Bush of the uranium deal is a distraction and irrelevant, except perhaps that it has brought public attention to bear on something that should have occurred well before the war, when both the media and many in the Democratic opposition were cowering like little poodles.

President Bush has systematically lied to the American public about both the facts and rationale for the war – as indeed he has about his economic policies, or lack of them. Uranium deal or not, and the discovery, or lack of it, of weapons in Iraq, does not alter the simple fact that Saddam’s regime posed no imminent threat to either the United States or any of its neighbors. That was always a bogus argument. The Bush administration invaded Iraq simply because it concluded that it was an effortless military target, and it helps mask Bush’s abysmal failures at home.

The real threat that Saddam posed was to his own people and there is no question that Iraqis are the better from the removal of his brutal regime. That rationale one can buy. And although Bush is given to using it now, he does not share it.

Perhaps there needs to be a logic in international affairs for external intervention against regimes that abuse human rights. It would need to be a necessarily high, or low, standard, (such as mass murder and genocide) because Bush’s own attorney general would otherwise qualify as an egregious human rights abuser himself.

But whatever that standard, Saddam would surely have occupied a spot at the head of its class, as indeed would many of Bush’s international buddies, certainly in the Middle East. The claim about the brutality of Saddam’s rule is accurate, but coming from Bush it is false and hypocritical. The democratic enterprise is susceptible to manipulation by lies and deception. The right wing establishment in the Republican Party knows that all too well. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) launched by conservative and moderate Democrats, similarly concluded that truth and electability in democratic polity are not always compatible.

Bush, a creature of corporate America, has even fewer problems massaging the truth or puffing up the sell. In his culture, embellishments are toasted and celebrated and rewarded daily in the form of advertising, where the sole measure and currency is the sell. It is well if it sells.

The public disdain for coiffured politicians and manipulated public discourse has now thrown up the populist candidacy of Howard Dean, sending alarm bells peeling in the DLC, which derided his “plain talk” candidacy at its just concluded annual convention, warning that “protest-oriented activists” are leading the party down the road of “assisted suicide.”

Democratic public polity is no longer about ideas and truth for conservative handlers in both parties. For all their rage at liberals, these Bible-thumping conservatives are surely liberal at lying.  

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