Follow up to "he's lying"

Here's a followup to my earlier post about Bush's uncomfortable relationship with the truth. Eleanor Clift, columnist and wife of James's old companion on the college newspaper, Tom Brazaitis, has a column on MSNBC: Not the Un-Clinton After All.

Yet the myth of Bush as a bipartisan president who operates above the fray is relentlessly promoted by Bush and his minions. Just this week on the campaign trail, Bush took credit for a huge increase in education funding. Yet he has cut funding below what it was last year, making a mockery of the “Leave No Child Behind” education bill he signed last year with Sen. Ted Kennedy’s blessing. Bush uses words and rhetoric to create an image quite different from reality, a tactic that would normally invite condemnation from both the media and political foes.


But it’s not true that Bush is a man of his word. He has shimmied and shifted in lots of areas, including Iraq, manipulating language the way Clinton did and exaggerating in the same way that he once pilloried Gore for doing. Bush says “regime change” doesn’t have to mean deposing Saddam Hussein—that the regime would be changed if Saddam disarmed. This is rhetoric worthy of Clinton, and it doesn’t mean that Bush has altered fundamentally his commitment to displace Saddam through military force.

Even though there is no credible evidence linking the Iraqi president to the 9-11 attacks, Bush persists in suggesting on the campaign trail that Saddam might use Al Qaeda as his “forward army.” Polls show that two thirds of Americans believe Saddam was behind 9-11, a useful myth irresponsibly fed by Bush. The president said in a speech last month that Saddam is experimenting with unmanned drones capable of reaching the United States with weapons of mass destruction. When confronted with the geographical improbability of such a feat, a White House spokesman countered that the drones could be launched from ships. Unless Iraq has an aircraft carrier we don’t know about, that scenario is equally implausible.


Compared with taking the country to war based on a body of lies, Bush’s duplicity on domestic issues doesn’t seem as egregious, but the pattern is disturbing.


There is hardly an issue where Bush hasn’t pulled a fast one. The rules he announced with great fanfare this week to make it easier to move generic drugs onto the market were passed by the Senate in July. Bush opposed them then; now with polls showing voters think he hasn’t done enough on domestic issues, he’s flipped.
How does he get away with such crass duplicity? The media doesn’t want to disturb the story line. Gore was the prevaricator; Bush was intellectually challenged. So when Bush fiddles with the facts, the media doesn’t see malevolence. They see a man who’s not articulate, who doesn’t speak with lawyerly precision. And they can’t believe how believable he is.

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This page contains a single entry by published on October 31, 2002 2:52 PM.

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