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Outrageous, yes - but it's hardly news
Detroit Free Press
June 18, 2004

There was an interesting little news item in Wednesday's paper, tucked among the stories about the Pistons' championship, the impending sale of Motor City Casino, and the assassination of yet another luckless Iraqi bureaucrat.

The item said the bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 attacks on America had concluded -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- that there's every reason to believe the president of the United States was lying through his teeth when he suggested the existence of a collaborative relationship between Al Qaeda and the government of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Now, it wasn't so long ago that such an embarrassing exposure of presidential perfidy would have piqued the public's interest for a couple of news cycles -- or at least until the next quarter-turn in the Laci Peterson saga.

So a reasonable person has to wonder: Why aren't responsible leaders in both parties -- those who care about their country and its credibility in the world -- calling for George Bush's resignation?

Too little sex, too much smoke

There are a number of reasons why the latest example of presidential prevarication hasn't elicited much outrage:

1) Nobody expects the president of the United States to tell the truth about something as personal as his reasons for going to war.

2) Nobody with the brains God gave tapioca pudding ever believed there was a Saddam-Osama connection in the first place.

3) It's not as though the precise details of any strategic relationship that may or may not have existed between two of America's most implacable enemies are important -- or at least not as important as the precise details of a sexual relationship between the president and one of his employees would be.

4) How 'bout them Pistons?

There's also the fact that the Bush White House has been sophisticated in putting up its Saddam-Osama smoke screen. There's been nothing as egregiously impeachable as "I am not a crook" or "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" -- just a steady stream of innuendo about "close ties" and "high-level contacts" between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

Connecting the dots

"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," Bush asserted in a press conference six months before the invasion of Iraq. And if fully half the American public leaped to the erroneous conclusion that Iraq bore some responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, well, that wasn't the president's fault, was it?

One is reminded of Samuel Butler's observation that "the best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way."

It sickens me to write these words, because I am one of those who gave Bush the benefit of the doubt -- one of the many Americans who, however much we may have disagreed with him on a dozen other issues, simply could not bring ourselves to believe that any president would mislead his constituents about so important a matter, or be so cynical about exploiting the emotional dynamite of 9/11.

As for Bush's insistence that there is no direct contradiction between his vague assertions of a Saddam-Osama connection and the 9/11 commission's conclusion that there was never any cooperation between the two, well, that depends on what your definition of "is" is, doesn't it?

The bottom line is that this president's pants are on fire -- again.

And that's an outrage worth our attention, even if it is becoming old news.

Posted: June 21, 2004


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