Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bush's Veterans Day Speech: Spin and Straw Men

No one should have been surprised by President Bush's Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania.

As JABBS wrote yesterday, new questions are being raised about whether Bush, Vice President Cheney and others in the White House inner circle made pre-war claims based on information provided by regarding Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a captured Al Qaeda commander -- information that the CIA and DIA said lacked credibility. This latest revelation backs up earlier news articles that suggest Bush, Cheney and others had made pre-war claims not supported by the National Intelligence Estimate.

It was clear that the White House would "hit back," as anonymous White House aides told CNN on Tuesday. Bush's speech, and the conservative noise machine that followed on various cable "news" channels, served that purpose.

But, in responding to the recent news, the president offered spin and straw men.

Bush, in his speech in Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania., first indicated that he supported free speech:

BUSH: One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.

But then he qualified that:

BUSH: While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.

And then he provided the straw man:

BUSH: As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.

It's a crafty piece of speechwriting. The information revealed over the past few days says that the White House inner circle had information in 2002 that was ignored or misrepresented in making the case for war to Congress and the American people. While it supports information revealed nearly two years ago, the newest information, regarding claims made by al-Libi, was only recently made available to the press and the American people in the last few days. But in spite of this, Bush makes the false charge that Democrats are trying to "rewrite" history.

Then, to drive his point home about the devil he knows as the Democrats, he starts questioning his critics' patriotism, suggesting that criticizing White House actions is akin to not supporting the troops. It's a classic example of empty conservative spin. Joseph McCarthy would have been proud.


The president's comments yesterday were criticized by Republicans as well as Democrats, which counters the president's spin that he is only being attacked by "Democrats and anti-war critics."

In a speech in Philadelphia, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), criticized how the war has been presented to Americans. Santorum, who has been distancing himself from Bush of late, the White House. Afterward, Santorum said the war has been "less than optimal" and "maybe some blame could be laid" at the White House. "Certainly, mistakes were made," Santorum said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said he agrees with Democrats who are pressing the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to move forward with an investigation into whether the administration manipulated intelligence.

"I was probably the main driver on the Republican side because I thought we needed the answers to whether intelligence was misused, intentionally or unintentionally," Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald.


White House officials fanned out to television appearances to reinforce Bush's argument and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman added his voice. He said Democrats who once worried that Saddam was amassing weapons of mass destruction now want an investigation of the intelligence. "Maybe this investigation will reveal that they were brainwashed," Mehlman said in a speech to be delivered Friday evening in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Maybe Mehlman is correct. Maybe the Democrats were given false information by the White House, not the "same information" as the White House, as conservatives claim. Maybe we should stop buying into the spin -- the administration brainwashing -- and actually rely on facts.

As The New Republic reported in 2003: "Senators were outraged to find that intelligence info given to them omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war."


A final note: In reporting the president's charges against "Democrats and anti-war critics," Fox News, CNN and MSNBC each rolled tape of the president, but failed to offer anything resembling equal time for a Democratic rebuttal. And of course, none of the networks offered the rebuttals from Santorum or Hagel.

Fair and balanced? Only for those administration brainwashers ...


Anonymous Poppyseedman said...

With daily news reports of terrorist bombings and what seems to be
at least in part religious forces at play in France nightly unrest

Whatever message the administration plays to the masses will be listened to.

It will be very hard to cut though the noise.

Think it might help if we asked to Muslims extremists real nice to behave themselves so we can get the message out?

12:38 PM  
Anonymous kevinmc said...

Another Gem, JABBS

12:39 PM  
Anonymous FtWayneBlue said...

Yes, part of Bush's lie is that the Senators voting had the same information as he did. Wrong. They only had the information he gave them. He barred them from getting the classified information which included the caveats that that the intelligence being presented was tainted at best and possibly flat out wrong, when he took away their security clearance in October of '01.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

If Bush and Cheney knew other things, but didn't present them to Congress when supplying them with intelligence, then the Congressional Democrats and the American people should not only be upset, they should be talking impeachment.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous ash said...

"If," Rob???

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the truth matter anymore?
How can Bush make such statements as he did in the speech, calling the allegations of misused intelligence on WMD "baseless", without factoring in all the convincing evidences even some new ones released earlier this week to suggest otherwise.
Why don't reporters confront the White House head on with the evidences instead of scribing the baseless claim that the claim is baseless.
Why can't the Democratic National Committee release their own talking points incorporating the facts reported by JABBS above.
Would this not be more effective than the few rebuttal comments we've seen from Kennedy and Kerry.
That's the problem. JABBS presents excellent information but how to get it out to the masses and the Bush sheep.
I'm already hearing the inevitable. That anyone who attempts to question Bush on the issue is automatically acting for political gain or against the soldiers, although it is Republicans and Independents raising some of the same questions.
Wouldn't the American people want the truth above partison sides, etc. on such an important issue such as how the U.S. got into a War now wreaking havoc on the economy and the world?
Bush's speech and the MSM response was an Orwellian nightmare.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Blue Turtle said...


perhaps we would to encourage journalists to adhere to the values underlying US democracy?

4:00 PM  

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