Are Bush's critics lying about lying?
Like Dr. Sanity and the Anchoress, I'm tired, tired, tired of the "Bush lied about WMDs" meme, which is itself a lie (or at least a grave error).
Fortunately, though, Norman Podhoretz isn't as tired as the rest of us. He's written this article of remarkable clarity on the subject in Commentary. If it were a lawyer's brief, it would be--to coin a phrase--a "slam-dunk." He carefully and patiently amasses irrefutable evidence that Bush did not lie. Read the whole thing, as they say.
But Podhoretz actually sounds a bit tired, too, I'm afraid:
What makes this charge ["Bush lied about WMDs"] so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.
Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is. Although doing so will require going over ground that I and many others have covered before, I hope that revisiting this well-trodden terrain may also serve to refresh memories that have grown dim, to clarify thoughts that have grown confused, and to revive outrage that has grown commensurately dulled.
The fact that the "Bush lied" meme went all the way around the world several times over before the truth had time to even get its underwear on, much less its pants, has caused me no end of puzzlement. Surely there are many ways to criticize the Iraqi war without using such a transparently inane one. Illogical and easy to disprove by offering quote after quote after quote (some of them from the very people making the accusations) and fact after fact suggesting that everyone thought Saddam had WMDs, the "Bushlied" meme seems to nevertheless have unusually strong legs.
That so many otherwise intelligent-seeming people have swallowed it points to something irresistable about this particular lie (or error) about lying. What could it be?
My first thought is that people tend to be angry at being misled about something, even if the misleading was in fact done innocently and in good faith; nobody likes to be wrong. So it's easy--and very tempting--to strike out at the source and imagine one has been purposely duped.
My next thought is that people are understandably reluctant to commit to war, and it's not unusual, ex-post-facto, to attack the reasons originally given for entering such a conflict. There are even those who question whether Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor in advance and let it happen.
And then there are those lingering memories of controversy over the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, for example, which have made people in this country especially sensitive around this issue of being lied to in order to start a war.
The members of Congress who are criticizing Bush overemphasize his own reliance on WMDs as the casus belli, conveniently forgetting it was only one of many reasons he gave. Why do they do this? I think the answer is simple: it's the reason that convinced them, the one that they gave the most credence to, the one designed to appeal most to a reluctant warrior or an isolationist.
What else? That old reliable, Bush-hatred, is part of the picture. To believe Bush was mistaken is one thing, and probably true (although he had plenty of company in this, to be sure). But to believe he lied requires a belief in a much greater depth of corruption.
Remember back when Clinton was in the middle of Monicagate, and he was accused of wagging the dog when he bombed Afghanistan and Sudan? Or when some thought Clinton had had Vince Foster murdered? It was one thing to not be a major fan of Clinton's (I, for instance, counted myself among that number), but it was another to think him capable of a bombing to save his political skin, or a cold-blooded murder of a friend. Granted, the number on the right who believed the latter to be true never numbered anything remotely like those on the left who believe the "Bush lied" meme, but I think the process of believing both things is somewhat similar: each arises in the idea that the person in question is totally untrustworthy and almost devoid of a moral sense, not just lacking in judgment.
So, this one isn't going to die, I'm afraid, despite how many convincing articles Norman Podhoretz has the stamina to write. More power to him, of course. But on this blog and others I've watched as the topic of WMDs and lies has been batted around in the comments section ad nauseum, without a single mind appearing to change.
Blogger Wunderkraut is tired, too (via Willisms)--tired, tired, tired--of blogging and debunking the same stuff over and over. It's a dirty little secret that blogging is both invigorating and tiring, with peaks and valleys and long slow slogs.
Maybe all bloggers go through this at some point. This must be where most give up, while others stick it out. You reach a point where you have written about the things that most interest you and you feel like you are repeating yourself. What more is there to say? How many more times can one point out the bias in the MSM? How many more times can you point out the hypocrisy of the Democrats in Congress concerning the war in Iraq?...
If I grow weary and the next blogger grows weary and this continues until the big name Conservative bloggers grow weary…then the MSM and their buds in the Democratic Party will have won and we will be left with the MSM passing forged “fake but accurate” documents to the unsuspecting American public.
Yes, Wunderkraut, it’s a war of attrition, and they’re hoping to tire us out. And blogging is a marathon, with no finish line.
Maybe we should all treat ourselves to one of these: