always promised yourself you weren't going to
hated when it was said to you and you swore that
when you had children, you'd never say it to them.
Then comes a day when the little monsters have
you encircled like the wagon train in an old western.
Having been told they can't do whatever foolish
or dangerous thing they had their hearts set on,
they hit you with a whining litany: Why? Why?
before you know it, you hear yourself explode.
"Why? Because I said so, that's why!"
feels more satisfying than you'd have imagined,
a forceful reminder that you're the parent and
you don't have to explain.
W. Bush had himself a moment like that last week
while responding to the latest finding by the
commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.
No credible evidence of a tie between Iraq and
Sept. 11 can be found, it said.
when asked why he keeps insisting such a tie exists,
the president said, "The reason I keep insisting
that there was a relationship between Iraq and
Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship
between Iraq and al Qaeda."
other words, there's a tie because he said so.
followed that rather peevish performance by dancing
a spiffy Macarena on a rhetorical tightrope, noting
that his administration never explicitly said
Iraq had a hand in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Which is true enough as far as it goes. But the
administration never missed a chance to imply
such a link. Just last year, the president told
us that combat in Iraq "is one victory in a war
on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001."
wonder polls show that the American people believe
Saddam Hussein somehow had a hand in the attacks.
And even now, Vice President Cheney can't quite
let it go. Asked directly on CNBC whether Iraq
was involved in the atrocity, the best he could
muster was, "We don't know."
review, shall we?
January of this year, former Treasury Secretary
Paul O'Neill accuses President Bush of having
come into office intent on finding a rationale
for invading Iraq. A White House official calls
March, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke
accuses the president of obsessively asserting
an Iraqi connection to Sept. 11 for which there
is no evidence. The White House describes him
as incompetent and uninformed.
comes June, and a bipartisan commission -- that
means Republicans and Democrats, folks -- says
that after reviewing U.S. and foreign intelligence,
it can find no evidence of Iraqi involvement in
the Sept. 11 attacks. In response to which, Vice
President Cheney accuses the media (!) of being
"malicious," "irresponsible" and "lazy."
does all this tell us? Beside the fact that the
messenger better wear a bulletproof vest around
these people, I mean.
I can't put it any better than Clinton-era terrorism
expert Daniel Benjamin, who was quoted in the
Los Angeles Times as saying, "At this point, the
White House position is just frankly bizarre.
. . . They're just repeating themselves, rather
than admit they were wrong."
is the most troubling aspect of this. I can accept
that mistakes are made by competent people acting
in good faith. What is impossible to accept is
the stonewalling refusal to concede that mistakes
were made or indeed, were even possible. This
is a White House that creates its own reality,
that will insist till the end of days that white
is black and right is left and smear you blind
if you disagree.
we pour treasure and blood into Iraq for reasons
that seem more insubstantial and insupportable
every day. And when you ask the White House about
it, it wraps itself in the flag and repeats the
party line in a louder voice.
I said so" may silence children, but we are not
children. It's time the White House stopped treating
us as if we were.
Posted: June 24, 2004