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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Questions Answered

An apparently liberal commenter named Phil, who owns this blog (earthy language warning) left a question in the comments and I thought it was worth pulling out to the front page:

In his speech on Friday and again last night Bush said that, in his opinion, people who questioned his use (or misuse) of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war were "deeply irresponsible."

Perhaps if he had a better grip on reality he would understand, as you do, that 57% of Americans believe that he misused the Iraq intelligence for the purposes of justifying his decision to go to war.

I'm aware of your contention that Bush is not desperate, but what is it if not desperation that causes a president to accuse the 57% of Americans who disagree with him of being "deeply irresponsible?"

Do you agree with the president's characterization of 57% of your fellow countrymen as irresponsible? Do you believe that it is appropriate for a president to characterize the clear majority of Americans who disagree with him in this way?

Alright, so we have to start with a little fact-checking. What did the president actually say? There are two speeches mentioned here. During the Veterans' Day speech, President Bush said:

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

There's an important point here, that Phil does not see because of his hatred for Bush. And it is that those people who are now claiming they were misled by this administration are the ones attempting to rewrite the history of how that war began. Pure and simple. There were no doubt some Democrats in the Senate who wanted to give Saddam more time, but there were others who were not expressing the doubts they now voice.

At Elmendorf, yesterday, he said:

Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.


Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible.

So I think any notion that the president was talking criticizing 57% of the people as irresponsible is pretty much out the window. He's talking about "Some Democrats and anti-war critics... Democrats... and some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force.

But even if we stipulate that President Bush was disagreeing with 57% of the American people and calling them irresponsible, it doesn't really bother me. The truth is not determined by a poll. Liberals love to rag on the fact that (say) 60% of the American people think Saddam was behind 9-11; aren't they disagreeing with 60% of the American people when they say (correctly, by the way) that he was not?

It's interesting the way these liberals think that polls should determine the facts. If you polled Americans and asked them how many home runs Hank Aaron hit in his career, and 57% said it was 730, would that matter? Of course not, because Hammerin' Hank belted out 755 in his career. Anybody that claims the administration lied about, manipulated, influenced or otherwise shaded intelligence is just plain wrong; read the Senate Intelligence Committee's report (PDF file).

More on this topic from Crazy Politico, including a nice bit of Hagel the Bagel bashing.


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