"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
President Bush portrays his position on Iraq as steady and unwavering as he represents Sen. John Kerry's stance as ambiguous and vacillating.
"Mixed signals are the wrong signals," Bush said last week during a campaign stop in Bangor, Maine. "I will continue to lead with clarity, and when I say something, I'll mean what I say."
Yet, heading into the first presidential debate Thursday, which will focus on foreign affairs, there is much in the public record to suggest that Bush's words on Iraq have evolved -- or, in the parlance his campaign often uses to describe Kerry, flip-flopped.
An examination of more than 150 of Bush's speeches, radio addresses and responses to reporters' questions reveal a steady progression of language, mostly to reflect changing circumstances such as the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction, the lack of ties between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and the growing violence of Iraqi insurgents.
But if you're looking for King Waffle himself, Bush is strictly bush league. As Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly (a certified Jet City local treasure) writes, the real flip-flopper is Acting President Dick "Dick" Cheney (emphasis supplied):
Little noticed, and worthy of lengthy consideration, is a speech delivered by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992 to the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
The words of our future vice president -- defending the decision to end Gulf War I without occupying Iraq -- eerily foretell today's morass. Here is what Cheney said in '92:
"I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.
"And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war.
"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."
How -- given what he said then -- does Cheney get off challenging the judgment and strength of those who argue that we are bogged down and shedding blood today?
Is Saddam worth the lives of 1,046 (at last count) dead Americans, and 7,000 injured Americans?
Sing along with me: "They call him Flipper, Flipper, greasier than lightning...."