Sunday, May 11, 2014

But A Fine Son, Brother, Husband, And Father

Yahoo News' Matt Bai commends

Peter Baker, my former colleague at the New York Times. Bush comes off there as compassionate and well-intentioned — a man who came into office underprepared and overly reliant on his wily vice president and who found his footing only after making some tragically bad decisions. Baker's Bush is a flawed character you find yourself rooting for, even as you wince at his judgment.

But as is the way in modern Washington, it was never enough for Bush's political opponents that he was miscast or misguided. He had to be something worse than that — or, more precisely, a lot of things worse. He had to be the most catastrophic president ever, in the history of ever. He had to be a messianic war criminal. Or a corporate plant looking to trade blood for oil. Or a doofus barely able to construct a sentence.

Hullabaloo blogger and Salon contributor Digby disagrees, commenting

I'm sorry, you want the job of president, there are no excuses for bad decisions on the level of the Iraq invasion. Sorry. It's a rare leader whose record includes a major terrorist attack, an illegal invasion of a nation that didn't attack it and a catastrophic economic crisis. I'd call that just a little bit special.

Basically, what's Matt Bai is telling you in that condescending way that only the best of Villagers can muster: "get over it." 

George W. Bush was no "doofus," though Digby may disagree. But it's even worse than she suggests.  As demonstrated by the Iraq war itself, the 43rd President was not merely Peter Baker's "flawed character" of bad judgement, . A great deal of the propaganda in the run-up to the war centered on Sadaam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, a vague term generally meant to include chemical and biological weapons while conjuring up the specter of use of nuclear weapons.  Further, the attack on the USA on September 11, 2001 was exploited to gin up war hysteria as when President Bush on November 21, 2002 declared

... for the sake of protecting our friends and allies, the United States will lead a mighty coalition of freedom-loving nations and disarm Saddam Hussein. See, I can't imagine what was going through the mind of this enemy when they hit us. They probably thought the national religion was materialism, that we were so selfish and so self-absorbed that after 9/11/2001 this mighty nation would take a couple of steps back and file a lawsuit.

Former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, as early as January, 2004, was quoted by journalist Ron Suskind as noting "From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go."  Suskind also referred to a Pentagon document entitled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," which, he said," talks about contractors around the world from ... 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq."

Evidence mounted.  Then in a summary of documents released in September, 2010, Joyce W. Battle of the National Security Archive (an organization "founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy") summarized

As available documentation and a review of the literature show, the Bush administration was well along the path to war before the 9/11 attacks, and certainly well before the protracted 2002-2003 debates over the re-admission of weapons inspectors to Iraq and a U.N. resolution to legitimize the targeting of Baghdad. At this point, the weight of evidence supports an observation made in April 2002 by members of the covert Iraq Operations Group – Iraq “regime change” was already on Bush’s agenda when he took office in January 2001. (Note 33) September 11 was not the motivation for the U.S. invasion of Iraq – it was a distraction from it.

To some in what Digby long has labeled "the Village," the man they like to call "W" is "the kind of inclusive conservative you can deal with, a guy who bikes with wounded veterans, a sensitive portraitist of world leaders."   No doubt he also helps little old ladies across the street, eleven years after he waged a war that got 4,000 Americans killed with perhaps as many as 200,000 Iraqis killed, and told us it was because of the horror of 9/11/01 and of those nuclear weapons Saddam Hussein never had.



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