A leader in the White House

Tony Blankley

6/4/2003 12:00:00 AM - Tony Blankley

Until about two weeks ago, our friends in the liberal media, the Democratic Party, the State Department and France had consistently accused our president of being a simpleton. He was not like them, with their beautiful, subtle minds that could see 12 sides to every issue and thus be paralyzed into inaction. George Bush -- in their lofty view -- saw everything as good and evil, black and white, right and wrong, friend and foe. He was, of all appalling things -- a moralist, and, gasp, a practicing, believing Christian. He simply didn't have the intellectual firepower of his critics that permitted them to be devious, clever and amoral. Unlike them, President Bush didn't understand why we could never beat the Taliban in the rocky redoubts of Afghanistan (after all, they had held the British Empire and Soviet Union at bay for generations). Unlike his critics, the president didn't understand that defeating Iraq, if it could be done at all, would cost tens of thousands of dead G.I's, who would be subject to blistering volleys of chemical and biological weapons. But somehow, George, in his simpleminded, straightforward way, managed to blunder into Kabul and Baghdad, taking fewer casualties than are typically run up by drunken U.N diplomats crashing their cars into civilians around the world in a good year.

But after two years of being accused of being too stupid and moralizing to be president, George W. has passed two tax cuts, won two wars and maintained the highest sustained public job approval ratings in the history of presidential polling. So, just in time for the 2004 model year unveiling, the liberal media, et. al have come up with an even more implausible description of George W. Bush. We are now to believe that the president is the devious mastermind of a mind-bogglingly complex plot to deceive the world into thinking Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons. Not only did he have to deceive the credulous and naive French Intelligence Service, but also Russian and German intelligence, the U.N. Security Council and their inspectors, the State Department bureaucracy, including Colin Powell personally, and Tony Blair and the vaunted British Intelligence establishment. Because before the war, all those entities honestly believed -- and consistently reported to the world press -- that they believed Saddam had such weapons.

Let's be clear what the news media and political charge is against President Bush: He "hyped" the facts, he politicized classified intelligence, he misled the world, he stated facts he had reason to know weren't true. To have accomplished such a thing he didn't have to merely fool a gullible public. He also had to fool his own government bureaucracy, because in Washington a classified government secret is the common knowledge of every 27-year-old cable news producer by about 11 a.m. Remember, last August, field grade officers were leaking Pentagon war plans to The New York Times and The Washington Post on a regular basis. If these same war-averse men had information to contradict President Bush over the last six months when he was talking about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, does anyone doubt they would have leaked such information before their morning coffee breaks? To have accomplished both such manipulation of his government and of world opinion would seem inconsistent with the media's portrayal of him as a Forrest Gump type. Now they would have us see George Bush as possessing all the skills and instincts of Niccolo Machiavelli and Joseph Goebbels.

It is now necessary to un-rewrite recent history. In 1998, President Clinton called for, and Congress passed into law, the official U.S. government policy on Iraq: regime change due to their possession of weapons of mass destruction. In January 2002, in his State of the Union Address, President Bush identified Iraq as part of the Axis of Evil because they were a rogue state that supported terrorists. As 2002 and 2003 progressed, he identified several reasons for going to war with Iraq: regime change, humanitarian relief, Saddam's support of terrorism, his failure to obey the terms of surrender in the 1991 war and the U.N resolutions over the past 12 years, his possession of weapons of mass destruction and the imperative for democracy in the Middle East and peace between Israel and the Palestinians. During that time, British Premier Tony Blair emphasized humanitarian concerns and WMD. But the world was indifferent to the suffering of the Iraqi people. The only reason that was of interest to the world was WMD, which thus became the focus point of U.N. negotiations and press coverage. The president has, at all times, honestly and sincerely placed all his cards on the table.

The real question the world should be asking is not why Bush went to war, but why Saddam did. For what was Saddam willing to risk his regime and life? Consider, up to the moment of the war, if he had agreed to cooperate with the U.N. weapons inspectors, war could have been avoided. That Saddam chose to fight answers all rational questions. But even now, a deranged world and a Bush-hating Democratic Party (and their media auxiliary) insist on putting our good president in the dock, rather than the evil Saddam -- the greatest killer of Muslims in history.