Did you ever have a day that was just so lousy that you can’t even remember all the lousy details to complain about them to your family?
We’ve had an entire presidential term and a half like that. Six plus years of dismal, dreary, cartoonish, buffoonish, surreal, moronic, whining, amateurish, sniveling, excuse-laden failure.
So much failure, in fact, that it seems impossible to catalog it all.
The invaluable national treasure, Victor Davis Hanson, has, however, done us the important service of cataloging it all for us. Here.
In his column, Hanson gives us chapter and verse. It’s a great, if dispiriting, read. Hanson is a great writer; one of the finest in the world today.
Here are some key passages (some emphasis added):
The very mention of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and Iraq was toxic for Republicans by 2005. They wanted to forget about the supposed absence of recently manufactured WMD in great quantities in Iraq; Democrats saw Republican defensiveness as key to their recovery in 2006. By the time Obama was elected, the issue had been demagogued to death, was no longer of any political utility, and so vanished.
So why all of a sudden is the New York Times strangely focused on old WMD stockpiles showing up in Iraq? Is the subtext perhaps that the rise of ISIS poses an existential threat in such a dangerous landscape (and by extension offers an explanation for the current bombing)? Or are we to be reminded that Bush stirred up a WMD hornets’ nest that Obama was forced to deal with? Or is the sudden interest intended to preempt the story now before we learn that ISIS routinely employs WMD against the Kurds? How strange that Iraq, WMD, bombing, and preemption reappear in the news, but now without the hysteria of the Bush era.
Indeed, for the last two years, reports of WMD of some sort have popped up weekly in Syria and Iraq. Bashar Assad has used them, apparently with strategic profit, both in deterring his enemies and in embarrassing the red lines of Barack Obama, who had threatened to bomb him if he dared use them.
ISIS is rumored to have attempted to use mustard gas against the Kurds. Iraqi depots are periodically found, even as they are often dismissed as ossified beyond the point of easy use, or as already calibrated and rendered inert by either U.N. inspectors or U.S. occupation forces. But where did all the WMD come from, and why the sudden fright now about these stockpiles’ being deployed?
For much of the Bush administration we heard from the Left the refrain, “Bush lied, thousands died,” as if the president had cooked intelligence reports to conjure up a nonexistent threat from Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles of WMD — stockpiles that Bill Clinton had insisted until his last days in office posed an existential threat to the United States. Apparently if a horde of gas shells of 20th-century vintage was found, it was then deemed irrelevant — as if WMD in Iraq could only be defined as huge Iraqi plants turning out 21st-century stockpiles weeks before the invasion.
Yes, bottom line: there were WMD’s there, and Saddam Hussein had used them, and I don’t think there was a person alive who wasn’t absolutely certain that Hussein would use them again. However, as Hanson points out, the fact that Bush didn’t lie. Nor, therefore, did all those hundreds of powerful Democrats who also said that Saddam Hussein had plenty of WMD’s, and was surely willing to use them. No, those powerful Democrats subsequently lied very, very purposefully afterward, and only when it was politically advantageous for them.
Here’s a bit more from Hanson:
The smear of Bush was the bookend of another popular canard, the anti-Bush slogan “No blood for oil.” Once the fact that the U.S. did not want Iraqi oil was indisputable, that slander metamorphosed. Almost immediately the Left pivoted and charged that we were not so much oil sinister as oil stupid. If the Iraqi oil ministry, for the first time in its history, was both acting transparently and selling oil concessions to almost anyone except American companies, it was now cast as typically ungracious in not appreciating the huge American expenditure of blood and treasure that had allowed it such latitude. Was the Iraq War then a stupid war that helped Russia and the Chinese? Poor Bush ended up not so much sinister as a naïf.
Although we don’t hear much any more about “No blood for oil,” the lie about “Bush lied, thousands died” has never been put to rest.
Yet a tad more:
What was odd about the untruth was not just that Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and the anti-war street crowd become popular icons through spreading such lies, but that the Democratic party — whose kingpins (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, et al.) had all given fiery speeches in favor of invading Iraq — refined the slur into an effective 2006 talking point. That Democrats from Nancy Pelosi to Harry Reid had looked at the same intelligence from CIA Director (and Clinton appointee) George “slam-dunk” Tenet (who authored a self-serving memoir ankle-biting George W. Bush while still in office), and had agreed with Tenet’s assessments, at least until the insurgency destroyed public support for the war, was conveniently forgotten.
The Bush administration did not help much. It never replied to its critics that fear of stockpiled WMD had originally been a Clinton-administration fear, a congressional fear, an international fear — and a legitimate fear. I suppose that the Bush people wanted the issue of WMD to just go away, given the insurgency raging in Iraq and the effective Democratic campaign to reinvent fear of WMD as a sinister Bush conspiracy. (Do we remember Colin Powell’s U.N. testimony and the years that followed — cf. the Valerie Plame/Richard Armitage fiasco — in which he licked his wounds while harboring anger at his former associates for his own career-ending presentation?) In sum, the Bush White House certainly did not remind the country that most of the Clinton-era liberal politicians in the 1990s had warned us about Iraqi WMD (do we even remember the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act?).
Here’s a bit more. Hanson delivers a flurry of body-blows to the entire left-wing narrative about the Iraq War — a narrative whose spokes-drones are the leaders of the Democrat Party:
Nor were we reminded that foreign leaders like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak had predicted mass death for any invaders who challenged Saddam’s WMD arsenal. (“General Franks, you must be very, very careful. We have spoken with Saddam Hussein. He is a madman. He has WMD — biologicals, actually — and he will use them on your troops.”) Was part of the Bush administration’s WMD conspiracy forcing tens of thousands of U.S. troops to lug about chemical suits and masks in the desert? No one, of course, noted that the initial success in Iraq also helped shut down Moammar Qaddafi’s WMD program in Libya and pressured the Pakistanis to arrest (for a while) the father of their bomb, Dr. A. Q. Khan. The latter nations apparently feared that the U.S. was considering removing dictators who they knew had stockpiled WMD.
But enough about WMD’s. The bottom line is simple: Bush didn’t lie; Saddam Hussein had WMD’s — plenty of them — and likely would have loved to use them. We’ve been finding them since we went over there.
Here’s the larger point. It’s a point that I’ve made in these pages. The point: WMD’s were only one point — among quite a few — in the bill of particulars that the Bush Administration used to make the case for action in Iraq:
There were all sorts of untold amnesias about Iraq. No one remembers the 23 writs that were part of the 2002 authorizations that apparently Obama believes are still in effect. They included genocide, bounties for suicide bombers, an attempt to kill a former U.S. president, the harboring of terrorists (among them one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers), and a whole litany of charges that transcended WMD and were utterly unaffected by the latter controversy. How surreal is it that Obama is preemptively bombing Iraq on twelve-year-old congressional authorizations that he opposed as trumped up and now may be relevant in relationship to dealing with Syrian and Iraqi stockpiles of WMD?
Oh, yeah! Now I remember! There were 24 total charges against Saddam Hussein, only one of which was … WMD’s.