Though liberals denied the importance of presidential character and honesty throughout Clinton's tenure, they swear by it today. Indeed, their major case against President Bush is that he lied to get us into war against Iraq.
Using the Left's criterion -- that presidential lying concerning such weighty matters as foreign policy and war is the most important issue in the campaign -- how do the candidates fare?
Democrats say that President Bush's main disqualifying sin is that he misled Americans into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and coordinated with Al Qaeda on 9-11 so that they would support him in his imperialistic, neoconservative war. Our troops died unnecessarily, says Kerry, as a direct result of Bush's lies.
Sure, Kerry has other complaints, such as that President Bush approached the war unilaterally. But that charge is not only erroneous on its face (the coalition is 32 members strong, and Bush tried to persuade France, Germany and Russia to join us). It is clearly specious when considered in conjunction with Kerry's principal complaint that Bush lied about WMD, because if he did it makes the composition of the coalition moot according to Kerry's other stated positions on the matter.
Specifically, Kerry said that this was the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." He would never send troops to die in a war unless "we had to, not because we chose to," which meant that the threat to America had to be "real and imminent."
Well, if President Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam's coordination with Osama, then under the Kerry "real and imminent" test, there could be no justification for sending troops to war even with the joinder of every other nation in the world. So his talk about the sparseness of the coalition, unilateralism, or alienating allies, is all irrelevant chatter, as is his boast that he could do better in building a coalition.
Forget that France and Germany said they couldn't have been persuaded to join the coalition in any event. Forget that we have since learned they were on the take in the "Oil for Food" scandal. Common sense tells us that John Kerry couldn't have convinced them to join a war that he thinks is a mistake and in which our troops unnecessarily died.
Now let's examine Kerry's statement that "even knowing what we do now (about Iraq's supposed lack of WMD), I still would have voted to authorize the Iraq war resolution," in light of his "real and imminent" threat test.
Even if we accept as true Kerry's bald-faced lie that he only voted for the resolution because President Bush promised he would further exhaust all diplomatic avenues and attack as a last resort, Kerry's position is still strikingly incoherent and disingenuous. If President Bush lied about WMD, there is no way Kerry can justify his vote to give the president even conditional authority to attack Iraq -- because without WMD there was no real and imminent threat. Case closed.
The inescapable conclusion, then, is that John Kerry is the one who has misrepresented his positions and President Bush's concerning Iraq. Using the Left's most important issue: lying about war, John Kerry has disqualified himself.
As for President Bush, I can't repeat enough that the CIA was convinced we had WMD and shared that information with President Bush and all government officials, including Kerry. The CIA said, and investigations confirmed, that President Bush did not pressure it to exaggerate this intelligence.
Most other major nations, including France, Germany, and Russia, also believed Saddam had WMD. And, the 9-11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee, based on hundreds of interviews, concluded, in effect, that Bush did not lie about the intelligence.
President Bush couldn't possibly have lied about WMD unless he miraculously knew something that neither the CIA nor all the other world's intelligence agencies knew: that Saddam didn't have WMD. Now how could he have known that? Did he hire his own private investigators to dispatch some Farsi-speaking, cowboy hat-wearing paragon of erudition to comb its entire landmass to confirm there were no WMD?
Frankly, it is nothing short of amazing that Democrats are still peddling this canard about Bush lying about Iraqi WMD. But they are. In the meantime we see that they really don't care about presidential lying about war, because it is they and John Kerry who are lying about it. If lying about war were truly their criterion, they would be voting for President Bush and against Kerry.
Their real issue is not lying; it is their unquenchable hatred for President Bush. And until Election Day and beyond they'll repeat their Goebbelsesque lie that