Thursday, November 10, 2005

Smear-And-Distract Time

David Corn writes The Loyal Opposition twice a month for Corn is also the Washington editor of The Nation and is the author of The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown Publishers). Read his blog at

In the months before the 2004 election, I was part of a road show with Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review . We traveled to college campuses and debated the merits (or liabilities) of the two leading candidates. Knowing that my case against George W. Bush was based partly on the argument that Bush steered the nation into war by telling falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Lowry, whenever possible, would try to fire a preemptive blow by reciting what I came to think of as The List. He would recite quotes from Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry and other prominent Democrats, all of whom had said at one time that Iraq was a threat because it possessed WMDs. In a moment of rhetorical gotcha, Lowry would proclaim that if Bush lied, then Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Kerry and the others had lied, too.

The List is in wide and frantic circulation these days. Bush's pre-war assertions about WMDs in Iraq, now known to be untrue, are back in the news¬ódue to the historic indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Patrick Fitzgerald's not-yet-over investigation of the Plame/CIA leak; and the tussle in the Senate over the delayed Phase II report, which was supposed to examine how the Bush White House used (or abused) the intelligence on WMDs in Iraq. In response, Bush-backers have been zapping around these Democratic statements. Last week, for instance, the Republican National Committee posted a collection of these comments. It noted that, in 1998, when Bill Clinton ordered a bombing attack on Iraq, he stated that the mission was "to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs." In 2002, the RNC points out, Hillary Clinton said that "intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program." There's this assertion from John Kerry: "Iraq has developed a chemical weapons capability and is pursuing a nuclear weapons development program." And the RNCers giddily note that Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader who forced the Senate into a closed session last week to complain about the GOP stall on the Phase II report, once said that "Saddam Hussein's near success with developing a nuclear weapon should be an eye-opener for us all."

Cont:  Rethugs are threatening to examine evidence of WMD in Iraq and what Democrats said about it years ago, like in 1990 and so forth.
Just keep it up and you people won't have a political party by the time this is over.


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