If lying is wrong -- and it is -- lying about lying (falsely accusing others of lying) is also wrong. So if lying about WMD is wrong, so are false accusations that President Bush lied about WMD.
Two recent news stories tend to exonerate the president with respect to Iraqi WMD. One concerns the overworked Democratic allegation that Bush lied in his 2003 State of the Union Speech in saying that Saddam sought to acquire uranium from Niger. Yet the British are set to release a report finding that Saddam indeed may have tried to procure substantial quantities of this vital nuclear weapons component after all.
The other exculpatory factoid, ironically, is implicit in the newly published Senate Intelligence Committee report that we had miserable intelligence failures respecting Iraqi WMD leading up to the war.
The Committee concluded, based on hundreds of interviews with intelligence officials, that the Bush administration did not try to pressure the CIA to fabricate or exaggerate the case for Iraqi WMD. If the primary American spy agency told the administration (and Congress) that Saddam was feverishly pursuing WMD and acknowledges that the administration didn't pressure it to say so, isn't it obvious that the president wasn't lying about WMD?
More significantly, the president didn't make this decision alone. Congress, including Senators Kerry and Edwards, joined him in it after reviewing the same intelligence data. So when Kerry accuses Bush of lying about Iraqi WMD, he is tacitly implicating himself in the same lie.
Kerry has really boxed himself in here. Either Bush lied, in which case Kerry did, too, or Bush did not lie, but Kerry is still lying by maintaining, falsely, that Bush lied. Either way, Kerry is lying. Amazing, when you consider the whole thrust of the Democratic case against President Bush is his alleged dishonesty. And just so we're clear, Kerry continues to accuse Bush of lying, even following the release of the Committee report.
In fact, one reason I've been able to remain cautiously optimistic through the campaign is that I believe that at least a plurality of American voters will see through the Democrats' consistently hysterical conspiracy theories and shameless defamation of George Bush and Dick Cheney.
I trust that despite the ebbs and flows in President Bush's personal approval ratings, when the time comes for competent voters to separate the chads from their ballots, they will choose the team that places our national security interests above partisan politics.
The Democratic machine has been flogging Bush/Cheney mercilessly since shortly after 9/11, and they still haven't been able to score a knockout punch. Even the injection of the sunny Edwards elixir into the decaying Kerry cocktail appears to have yielded but a temporary kick to the negatively laden campaign.
Some are worried about Edwards' charm, ebullience and knack for sounding positive even when delivering the most divisive, disingenuous and demagogic economic diagnosis about the American economy (two Americas).
But even if he were able to conceal his hollow substance with his slick form, it wouldn't be enough. He is, after all, not the ticket's main attraction. John Kerry, as John Kerry reminded us on "Sixty Minutes," is the presidential candidate, not John Edwards.
Besides, to the inevitable chagrin of the economy-fixated and foreign policy challenged Edwards, this election is going to be more about Iraq and national security than the economy. National security has an unmatched urgency during wartime. Plus, economic issues might be a virtual wash when comparing the sluggish start to the late-arriving recovery. (If Republicans were smart, social issues would play a much greater role as well, but they often aren't smart, to wit: the speaking roster at their convention.)
The emphasis on national security, believe it or not, will ultimately work in the president's favor. Sure, the situation in Iraq could be so bleak in November that the voters will hold their noses and opt for the manifestly unappealing Kerry, but it isn't likely.
It's not just that voters instinctively trust Republicans more than they do Democrats on national security issues. It's that these particular Democrats have nothing to offer as an alternative, as I've written, other than their irrelevant refrain that Bush should have deferred more to the United Nations and European Left.
In the end, the voters will probably realize that President Bush is taking the war to the enemy instead of waiting around to be attacked again -- though Democrats can't seem to grasp the connection between Iraq and the War on Terror.
Alas, their only remaining weapon is to falsely accuse the Bush team of lying about Iraq. So between now and November we should expect more lies about lies. I'm not lying.