If you had any doubts that President Bush has lost the moral authority to lead this country, his Veterans Day speech today should put those questions to rest.
President Bush lashed out today at critics of his Iraq policy, accusing them of trying to rewrite history about the decision to go to war and saying their criticism is undercutting American forces in battle.
“While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” the president said in a Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Bush delivered his aggressive and unusually long speech as part of an effort to shore up his credibility as he faces growing public skepticism about Iraq and accusations by Democrats and others that he led the nation into war on false pretenses.
Before going to war, Mr. Bush said, Democrats and Republicans alike were privy to the same intelligence that indicated former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war,” he said. “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. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.”
He said the United Nations had passed more than a dozen resolutions that cited Mr. Hussein’s development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Bush mentioned Senator John Kerry, who he defeated in the 2004 election, something he seldom did even during the campaign.
Mr. Bush recalled that Mr. Kerry, a Democrat, also voted to go to war, and quoted him as saying that he had done so because Mr. Hussein had “a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand” and that he was “a threat and a grave threat to our security.”
The president said: “That’s why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.”
What a way to honor our veterans: give a campaign-style speech that bashes John Kerry and anyone who questions his run-up to the war. He trotted out the schoolyard excuse that because Democrats in the House and Senate fell for the falsehoods that they used to get us into the war, they’re culpable, too, and if you believed his lies, you’re the fool. It is a pretty sorry state of affairs when an administration has to rely on the gullibility of its opponents. And what does it accomplish by dragging John Kerry into the debate? His run against Senator Kerry was last year; he’s just one of a hundred senators now. Yet he can’t let it go; he has to rub salt into the wounds and remind the voters that he won the election on lies and demonization. Very statesmanlike.
The president is entitled to give whatever kind of speech he wants, but the politicalization of a solemn day of honor and rememberance is insulting to the veterans of this nation, many of whom are Democrats and are opposed to the war and the means that got us into it. He had the opportunity to reach out to the veterans and their families and to honor their service to this country. He had a chance to pay tribute to the men and women who served their nation, regardless of politics. But this administration never misses a chance to defend the indefensible, attack their opponents without provocation, and generally do everything they can to beat the crap out of anyone who dares to question them. These are not the actions of an administration that is in control of itself; they’re like a cornered badger, lashing out an anything that moves.
If the president’s poll numbers go any lower, he’ll probably challenge Max Cleland to a fistfight.