Monday, July 19, 2004

Monday Morning Musings: Good News From Iraq; The Joe Wilson Saga; And The Old_Line News Media

This is an interesting web site, well worth scanning.  It's unlikely everything here is reported in a totally accurate manner, but we certainly can't say even that about the old-line news media's reporting from Iraq.  At least this information adds perspective to the picture.  The situation in a country of 23 million people, and with so many different economic regions, ethnic cultures, and religions, simply can't be as simple as Reuters reports it to be.

William Safire's New York Times column today puts another of what will be many finishing coats of shellac on the Joseph Wilson epitaph.  Here are two paragraphs:
"Wilson testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had assured U.S. officials back in 2002 that 'there was nothing to the story.' When columnist Robert Novak raised the question of nepotism by reporting that he got the assignment at the urging of his C.I.A. wife, Wilson denied that heatedly and denounced her 'outing,' triggering an investigation. The skilled self-promoter was then embraced as an antiwar martyr, sold a book with 'truth' in its title, appeared on the cover of Time and every TV talk show denouncing Bush.
"Two exhaustive government reports came out last week showing that it is the president's lionized accuser, and not Mr. Bush, who has been having trouble with the truth."
You may recall that the firestorm here arose over these "sixteen words" President Bush used in his State of the Union address:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
From that statement has arisen the "Bush lied" screams that we have seen on so many bumper stickers.  There were some forged documents in the mix of intelligence information that the CIA had prior to Bush's speech, but they were not the basis for the reports that led to Bush's inclusion of the famous sixteen words in his speech.  Even so, Wilson leaked the existence of the forged documents to the Washington Post.  The Senate reports that in doing so, Wilson "may have misspoken . . . he said he may have become confused about his own recollection. . . ."  
Uh-huh.   Some, like Hugh Hewitt, are wondering if perjury charges against Wilson are a possibility, but the above quote reads like something from a person who already has a lawyer advising him how to backtrack from false or misleading statements.  The betting on this blog is that the prosecutors assigned to this case will decide it's not worth it to pursue Wilson and leave the matter to the political process to decide. 
Which means that years from now, liberal partisans will still be saying, "Bush lied!" Or, perhaps, my personal favorite:  "When Clinton lied,  no one died!" 
Michael Barone writes today about the press's complicity in this ongoing distortion of the truth, concluding:
"All this is significant because for the past year most leading Democrats and many in the determinedly anti-Bush media have been harping on the 'BUSH LIED' theme. Their aim clearly has been to discredit and defeat Bush. The media continue to fight this battle: contrast the way The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times front-paged the Wilson charges last year with the way they're downplaying the proof that Wilson lied deep inside the paper this year.
"Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis has argued that George W. Bush has transformed American foreign policy, in response to the threat of Islamist terrorism, more than any president since Harry Truman transformed our foreign policy in response to the threat of aggressive communism.

"But there is one big difference. In the late 1940s, Truman got bipartisan support from Republicans like Arthur Vandenberg and Thomas Dewey, even at a time when there were bitter differences between the parties on domestic policy, and received generally sympathetic treatment in the press. This time, George W. Bush has encountered determined opposition from most Democrats and the old-line media. They have charged that "BUSH LIED" even when he relied on the same intelligence as they did; they have headlined wild and spurious charges by the likes of Joseph Wilson; they have embraced the wild-eyed propaganda of the likes of Michael Moore.

"They have done these things with, at best, reckless disregard of the effect their arguments have had on American strength in the world. Are they entitled to be taken seriously?"
My answer:  No!



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