The extent of the Bush administration's abuse of intelligence and
propagandizing on behalf of this "optional war," as George Will
casually called it, is at
this point clear to anyone watching. So are the recent and continuing lies
and fictions. To take one of the most striking: Donald Rumsfeld said on March
30 that we knew precisely that weapons of mass destruction were in and around Tikrit and Baghdad; Condoleezza
Rice said Sunday, "No one ever said that we knew precisely where"
the weapons caches were.
It may not have been one of my most important journalistic assignments, but going up to Bristol, Conn., to spend a Sunday afternoon in October 1991 with Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and the rest of ESPN's NFL Prime Time crew still rates among the most enjoyable. I remember how agog I was as they led me into their inner sanctum, a dimly lit conference room with mammoth bowls of chips and popcorn, footballs for tossing around (for mood establishment) and, most impressively (especially for 1991), 15 or so televisions arrayed along one wall so they could watch every game in progress.
A fresh and potentially damning revelation about pre-war manipulation of intelligence comes out, and the administration -- for the first time -- has to acknowledge that an "incorrect" justification for war was bruited. It's yet another instance -- the 13,862nd, I think -- over which we shake our heads, imagining what the right would have done if a Gore administration had tried to get away with something like this. And so, once again, we are confronted with the same exasperating question: What has to happen to make the American people care about the lies told to get us into this war?
A leading conservative trope these days seems to be a genuine (although I wonder how genuine) puzzlement over liberal anger. For reasons we'll get to shortly, the Fourth of July strikes me as a very appropriate occasion on which to explain that anger's sources. Permit me, then, as a certain famous American document once put it, to submit these facts to a candid world.
It's not as if we needed one more example to prove that the mainstream media have developed a reflex of accepting the premises of the right in order to make liberals look discredited. But try this one on for size.
This past Sunday, Howard Dean was a guest on Meet the Press. Host Tim Russert wanted to engage the former Vermont governor on whether repealing the Bush administration's tax cuts, a position Dean supports, would amount to a tax increase.
Russert confronted Dean with the "fact" that a repeal of both major Bush tax cuts would lead to a $1,933 tax increase for a couple earning $40,000.