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It's come to my attention that certain InstaIndividuals used my discontent at Kerry's failure to address the Iraq issue foresquare during the Democratic convention as a way to justify his obsessive peddling of oft-untrue attacks on John Kerry's war record. As such, I feel I would be remiss not to point this out:

In May, the White House announced that George W. Bush would deliver five weekly speeches intended to shore up support for his Iraq policies. How many of the five did he deliver before abandoning the effort?
(a) One. (c) Three.
(b) Two. (d) Four.
The answer, of course, is one. We can conclude several things from this. First, Bush (as we saw with the Cheez Whiz) is a liar. Second, Bush doesn't like needing to address current Iraq policy in a substantive way (as opposed to tossing off random applause lines about why having gone to war well over a year ago was a good idea) any more than Kerry does. Third, having looked at the overnight polling after the speech, Bush concluded that winning his reelection was more important than trying harder to win public support for the war. Of course, if the erstwhile hawks were actuallly more interested themselves in winning the war rather than reelecting the president, they would be interested in this stuff.

UPDATE: Jeff The Baptist deserves credit both for taking this issue on and also for reaching new heights of rightwing absurdism: It's not the CPA's fault, it's the fault of the CPA's handpicked Iraqi ministers! And there's no need to punish the wrongdoing to avoid future malfeasance because the CPA doesn't exist anymore! It's not as if "sovereign" Iraq is entirely dependent on US financial assistance or that America's Iraq policy is still being managed by substantially the same people.

August 23, 2004 | Permalink


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Tracked on Oct 6, 2005 11:42:05 PM


"First, Bush is a liar."
You'll not mince words here, nor will I. Though with all the plausible deniability stuff it's been hell pinning the Bushies down on the fact of consistent deception. It all adds up to obvious deception to me, but if you go a line at a time there's usually a retort. At this In These Times article the case for deception is made pretty compellingly.

Posted by: Walker Willingham | Aug 23, 2004 6:14:14 PM

You know things are bad when there is enough material on the adminstration's deceptions that someone can write an entire thesis on the subject:

"6. Devon Largio: (b) The college student whose honors thesis found that the Bush Administration offered twenty-three different rationales for the Iraq war."

Too bad the media haven't done their homework as thoroughly.

Posted by: dctexan | Aug 23, 2004 6:36:20 PM

we all know Bush and Co lied about everything related to the war in Iraq. the problem is, we've got a Democratic candidate who answers YES to Bush's question "would he, knowing what he knows today (no WMDs etc) still vote to authorize the war?" THAT, even tho > 50% of Americans now think the war was wrong. where's my candidate?

Posted by: scorpio | Aug 23, 2004 6:40:42 PM

You imply that "winning the war" and "reelecting the President" are separable concepts. Many of those who support the President think otherwise.

So sorry. Try again, won't you?

Posted by: am | Aug 23, 2004 6:53:59 PM

Am, we must ignore the delusions of Bush supporters except when pointing them out will help persuade the undecided.

Posted by: J Thomas | Aug 23, 2004 7:16:32 PM

scorpio, the problem with kerry's answer to bush's yes/no challenge was that he didn't actually address the question posed. he was answering a different question, a question with which he was more familiar, through his experiences in the primaries: how do you justify your vote on the war resolution? he would vote to authorize force, he says, even knowing what we know now (no WMDs, etc.), because -- it's ironic in a way (because Kerry's such an unprincipled flip flopper dontcha know) -- on PRINCIPLE -- it's the kind of authority, Kerry thinks, congress OUGHT to cede to the Prez/CinC. it's not kerry's fault that bush is such a fuck-up of a president, that he can't handle the responsibilities of his office. right power, wrong president. now, the argument to the left of kerry would hold that a responsible senator needs to take into consideration who the president is to whom the dutiful legislator is ceding these war powers. but let's us folks who are resolved that we'd rather elect kerry than bush just forgive kerry's strong, demonstrable, and possibly wrong-headed respect for Process (a conception of the division of powers of the U.S. federal gov't that arguably takes the President's Commander-in-Chief status too seriously while discounting that whole Congress' power to make war constitutional clause) and remember that the experience of slowly realizing how bad bush fucked up the world closely tracks that of many americans.

Posted by: hsr | Aug 23, 2004 7:19:08 PM

I'm pretty certain he delivered more than one of the speeches -- in fact, from the White House's Iraq archives: there was one at the War College (5/24), one at the D-Day memorial service(6/1), one at the G8 summit (6/8), one at Fort Lewis, Washington (6/24). Ronald Reagan dying threw the schedule off. Also, I have a memory that the War College speech wasn't the first, but I can't find it. I'm certain there was more than one speech -- the thing that struck me was how little attention was paid to them after the first one, by the press and the left blogosphere. It seemed to me that the press really dropped the ball on this one. They had an obligation to, at the very least, take the speeches seriously and report on what they were saying.

If I had a bit more application I could track down analyses from Tacitus and Robert Tagorda for the first two and maybe the third. But it's just the wrong time of the evening right now.

Posted by: william | Aug 23, 2004 7:19:18 PM

hsr: an artful defense, and one i've heard before, but imagine the next question Der Leader may pose our candidate: "i'm going into Iran next week, and Syria the week after that. will u join me?" would Kerry say "count me in!" how do we know he wouldnt?

Posted by: scorpio | Aug 23, 2004 7:30:25 PM

I only remember the one speech myself, but if there were subsequent ones that were not shown it wsa because the War College speech was such a monumental waste of time.

A whole hour of actually saying nothing is some kind of accomplishment, just not one for prime time.

Winning the war and re-electing Bush are very inseperable by the way. You can do one or the other, but not both.

Posted by: Nate | Aug 23, 2004 7:36:04 PM

Geez. John Kerry vowed he would defend and uphold the Constitution. He didn't. Can you get any more petty with this whining?

Posted by: Warthog | Aug 23, 2004 8:30:34 PM

A quick question, hopefully not too off-topic:

The Kerry War "Flip Flop" put out by the Bush campaign has been rebutted with an argument that Kerry was simply authorizing the President to use force et cetera et cetera.

Given President Bush's rhetoric to the point where the Senate was asked to approve Bush's use of force, isn't it entirely implausible for Kerry to conclude anything other than that Bush, granted the authority, would go to war?

To me, Kerry's statements about his position(s) on Iraq make him seem a little thick, which I generally think of as Bush's turf. Pesonally I would have prefered a good old fashioned 'flip flop'.

Posted by: AsABrick | Aug 23, 2004 8:32:13 PM

warthog: Bush and Cheney are the ones who chose to personally cut and run when they had their chance to defend and uphold the Constitution. they bought their way out of Vietnam fair and square, like JP Morgan in the US Civil War.

Posted by: scorpio | Aug 23, 2004 8:43:39 PM

Asabrick, the problem with iraq is that there were 3 positions, not 2: a.) prowar under any circumstances (the bush position); b.) opposed to war at this time short of a true causus belli (the antiwar position, which was mine); and c.) prowar under the right circumstances because we sooner or later would have to deal with saddam (the kerry position).

While the kerry position isn't mine, it's an understandable one, and doesn't require anyone to be thick as anything.

Warthog, can't you do any better? This is truly pathetic....

Posted by: howard | Aug 23, 2004 8:46:39 PM

hsr --

"on PRINCIPLE -- it's the kind of authority, Kerry thinks, congress OUGHT to cede to the Prez/CinC."

Then why have a vote? I don't buy the idea of someone feeling honor-bound to be a rubberstamp. To me Kerry's "process" excuse is only an excuse. My guess is he was taking a dive because of the war fever. It's a damn shame, but that's why so many in the party were so pissed at the Senate Democrats (explaining Howard Dean's five months in the sun).

Posted by: Kyle | Aug 23, 2004 9:20:54 PM

prowar under the right circumstances because we sooner or later would have to deal with saddam (the kerry position)

Don't flame me, I'm voting for Kerry.

However, if I actually believed Kerry was so goddamn dumb that he thought W wasn't going to attack Iraq no matter what I would just throw up my hands.

Everyone knew once Bush got his mouth running, UN or no UN, weapons or no weapons he was going to invade Iraq. Why even try and spin that lame line? Who is there to convince?

Posted by: absynthe | Aug 23, 2004 9:40:21 PM

Geez. John Kerry vowed he would defend and uphold the Constitution. He didn't. Can you get any more petty with this whining?

What are you talking about? Did he declare that the authority to set aside the law is inherent in the junior Senator from Massachusetts?

Posted by: EH | Aug 23, 2004 10:11:38 PM

"Spending was simply poorly documented" Jeff the Baptist

9 billion dollars? That is billions. One example of the forgivable paperwork flaws involves paying for 20000 security personnel but only having paperwork for 830. Hey I can understand the 3000 green zone workers being too busy to notice little stuff like that.

Who are we gonna fire for this? Allawi's brother and cousin? Actually we are not gonna fire anybody, and Allawi isn't gonna fire his brother when he gets back from Aruba. (I made up these relationships).

Hope y'all regret being mean to Ledeen's daughter, who obviously served her country well as she did the accounting in Iraq.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 23, 2004 10:56:17 PM

As I've said before this war started, when Iraq fails we will be saying 1) It didn't fail and 2) we brought freedom to the Iraqis and they blew it, and 3) we could have won Iraq if only . . .

We've heard the first, and we are starting to hear the second. We'll be hearing the third until we die.

Posted by: Tripp | Aug 24, 2004 9:46:23 AM

Bush said he'd have 5 weekly speeches.


The first was May 24 from 8 PM to 8:34 PM EDT.

It makes sense to say the 2nd one was June 1 from 11:30 AM to 12:06 EDT, from the Rose Garden. It was more questions and answers than otherwise, with very sympathetic questioners. Somebody asked him about Chalabi providing misinformation and he said he'd maybe met him a couple of times shaking hands with people, but he never actually *talked* with the man. Pressed about misinformation from Chalabi, he said we expected Saddam to sabotage the oil, we expected lots of refugees, we expected starvation, and none of it happened.

On June 8 Bush and the japanese prime minister talked about iraq for 7 minutes, on June 9 Bush and Blair talked about iraq for 6 minutes. One of those might have been the third weekly talk.

On June 18 Bush gave a talk at Fort Lewis. 8:10 to 8:48 AM PDT. This could have been the third or fourth talk. A lot of it was about iraq although there was a lot about 9/11 and afghanistan and Fort Lewis etc. It could have been the fourth talk. Bush said that our successes were making the terrorists more desperate so they were attacking harder. "In Najaf, Iraqi police are back on the streets."

On June 28 Bush and Blair talked in Istanbul, 4:55 PM to 5:29 PM local time. They gave short speeches and then took some friendly questions that had odd spin. (There was one about imposing marital law to improve security.)

Bush explained that the iraqi government was for *freedom*, and so when it imposes martial law it won't be doing it to restrict people's freedom, it will be doing it to make them more free.

Bush gave a speech on August 5 in Columbus, OH, 1 PM EDT to 2:27 PM. It was a general campaign speech but it repeated some of the best one-liners from other iraq speeches. This could be considered the 5th or 6th iraq talk.

These talks are short on detail but there's material there that could be inspiring given the right speaker. The basic argument is:

1. We have implacable enemies who will hit us as hard as they can no matter what we do. We can't negotiate with them, we can't reason with them, we can't bargain with them, and therapy doesn't work on them. The only possible way to keep them from killing us is to kill them first.

2. It's wrong to say that we are making worse enemies by our actions because our enemies are already as bad as they can get.

3. We must destroy threats before those threats materialise, after they materialise they'll be harder to fight.

4. When the enemy attacks get worse it's because they are desperate, as they see us winning they feel they have to put everything into attacking us. They hope we'll see how bad it's getting and give up. But we will never give up. Maybe they will give up or maybe we'll kill them.

5. We promised democracy to the people of iraq and Allawi completely agrees with us. When he gets tough he's getting tough for democracy. (Various specific questions got put off on Allawi, Bush figures most specifics aren't his business any more, it's Allawi's show.)

6. It wasn't that we had no plan for iraq after the fall of Saddam. It was that we had contingency plans for lots of disasters that didn't happen. What did happen wasn't all that bad in comparison. All we have to do is keep killing the bad guys until Allawi's government can kill them itself, and everything will come out fine.

Bush may have implied other things but these are the ones I noticed.

Posted by: J Thomas | Aug 26, 2004 4:41:13 PM

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