November 17, 2005

Dick Cheney Blasts Spineless Democrats

From Reuters:


WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday accusations that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.

Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.

The comments were the latest salvo in an aggressive White House counterattack on war critics, launched as Democrats step up their criticism of the war and polls show declining public support for the conflict.

Cheney repeated President George W. Bush's charge that Democratic critics were rewriting history by questioning prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction even though many Senate Democrats voted in October 2002 to authorize the invasion.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -- but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," said Cheney, a principal architect of the war and a focus of Democratic allegations the administration misrepresented intelligence on Iraq's weapons program.

Cheney said the suggestion Bush or any member of the administration misled Americans before the war "is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," he said in a speech to the conservative Frontiers of Freedom group.

'A PLAY FOR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE'

"What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war," he said. "The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out."

Cheney - whether you like him or not - has a point. Everyone believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the Democrats were in agreement that something needed to be done to stop him. While, of course, some Democrats believed that more sanctions and inspections were the more appropriate solution, many actually voted for the Iraq War resolution.

See my previous posts here, here and here for quotes and video of the Democrats agreeing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction/nuclear capability and that Iraq was a threat to our national security.

If the Democrats wanted to turn the pre-war intelligence against Bush, all they had to do was focus on the fact that Bush never fixed the inherent intelligence problems that lead to 9/11 or the Iraq invasion. Was Iraq a collossal intelligence failure? Absolutely. Should Bush have conducted a major purge/restructuring at the CIA? Absolutely. Unfortunately, he did not. Quite frankly, this is a line of argument that just makes more sense and clearly would resonate more with the American public. The Democrats could have pointed to a problem, provided a plan to solve the problem and thereby demonstrated to the American public why they should vote for the Democrats.

Instead, they have publicly dared the Bush administration and Republican National Convention to remind the American public of the Democrat's previous positions. Now, the Democrats look like political opportunists that are, in fact, being intellectually dishonest with the American public.

So, what do the Democrats do now? Well, they continue forward with their charges that they were mislead and that they did not see all of the intelligence... and, of course dig themselves deeper into this hole. However, this won't work - the commissions that have investigated pre-war intelligence have already found that the intelligence, which Congress did see, was actually worse in that it painted an even worse picture of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

How did the Democrats think they could get away with this? Michelle Malkin has some thoughts:

When you watch this incredibly good RNC web video you might ask how on earth the Democrats ever thought they would get away with accusing the President of lying and misleading the country into the war in Iraq. I would answer that with the following:

1. They were emboldened when they were successful in getting the President to say the "16 words" should not have been included in the SOTU speech. This was the beginning of the "Bush lied" mantra. Many even claimed that Bush admitted he lied about the 16 words when he said they should not have been included. More on that sequence of events here and here.

2. They knew they had control of the MSM and that most reporters are too lazy to check previous statements of Democrats and their memories are too short to remember those statements, unless, of course, they would be harmful to Republicans. (Update: Some readers have argued that reporters are not so much lazy as agenda-driven. I think it is both, and would agree that agenda often is the overriding factor.)

3. They were following the example of Bill Clinton that if you repeat something often enough it becomes perceived as truth and in politics perception is everything.

4. (Added as an update upon further reflection) Another reason is that Bush has been too darned nice. Clinton used to badmouth Republicans on a daily basis and would refute any allegation made by Republicans by blaming it on his enemies' desire to destroy him. Bush has taken a 180 degree different approach by not blaming others and rarely responding to his critics. The longer Democrats claimed Bush lied and got no response, the bolder they got. I'll bet they feel like they have been hit over the head with a two by four this week. The shock has probably not worn off yet.

Indeed.
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