Jonah Goldberg

It began before the guy was even sworn in. During the Florida recount, Democrats insisted that blacks were deliberately blocked from the polls. But there was no evidence, and Dems offered no evidence of this in their many, many court challenges - because you can't lie and spin in court. Then we were told that Bush had put more arsenic in the water, a distortion of staggering proportions (he merely put on hold a last-minute Clinton regulation to restrict acceptable arsenic levels even further).

But it was after 9/11 that the assaults lost all coherence. Critics said Bush was fomenting - or not stopping - a nationwide anti-Arab "backlash." Bush was a fool for attacking Afghanistan because the Muslim street would turn against us. Ditto if we attacked on Ramadan. They said there was no link between al-Qaida and the Taliban. A couple weeks into the Afghan war, various liberal commentators insisted it was a disaster and a quagmire. After the war they said Bush was shortchanging nation-building.

In the lead-up to Iraq, Bush's critics insisted that Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction, even as they warned that Saddam might use them against our troops. He might also launch a strike on Israel and create a huge outflow of Iraqi refugees. A week into the war, the word "quagmire" again appeared in The New York Times and elsewhere, even as America led the fastest military advance in history.

After the war, the looting of the Baghdad Museum was a world historical calamity of the first order. President Bush was spending too much on nation-building. Now we're told that Bush "lied" by repeating what every intelligence agency in the West believed to be true at the time - that Saddam had undeclared WMD. And, of course, the Patriot Act has trampled the Bill of Rights.

In other words, almost every major criticism of the administration has either been false or an exaggeration, with the exception of Bush spending too little on nation-building. But now the Democrats have flip-flopped on that.

Now, of course such scorekeeping is a bit unfair. Many individual Bush critics were consistent and honest (Beinart's one of them). But if it's OK to lump conservatives into a monolithic bunch, it's fair to do it to liberals, too. And on that score, conservatives are winning. In fact it's a blowout.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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