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Read Dick Cheney's speech today carefully.  He says that it's okay to debate politics, so long as you don't debate one thing: Whether or not the Bush White House lied in order to get Americans to support his invasion of Iraq.  By doing this, Cheney has framed the debate  with this question: Did Bush lie?  That's good for pro-peace Democrats and others who want to see the Iraqi occupation end sooner than later.  Combine this with Murtha asking if there's any good to come from American troops in Iraq and it's clear that Bush is in trouble.

Cheney started today's speech by saying that he didn't say that "debate" is reprehensible, or that war critics are dishonest.  He even claimed to like debate, and to accept its value even in times of war.  Cheney even claimed to value reexamining the reasons that Bush sent America into war in the first place.

Sounds fair, even reasonable.  Of course, it's a far departure from the rhetoric of last week, when Cheney said, "The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out." Or when he said, "we're going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us."  

Cheney's no dummy, so he knows that when the Vice President juxtaposes debate with subjecting soldiers to falsehoods he is sending a powerful message to his opponents: Speak out and we will accuse you of undermining the soldiers.  This tactic is ruthless, in that it shuts down debate and that it uses the soldiers as political pawns. It is shameless, and far more divisive that Cheney's tone today.

But Cheney didn't even back down from his original statement in his "toned down" comments today.  Instead, he simply narrowed that attack - from Americans that oppose the war to Americans that oppose Bush lying to send Americans into a war of choice.

Here's what Cheney said, right after claiming that he's okay with dissent and debate:

What is not legitimate -- and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible -- is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence. source

And here lies Bush's weakness.  Cheney and Bush are now on the defensive, denying that they did what they so clearly did.  They lied.  They lied in order to deceive Congress and the American people so that we'd invade a country that posed no immediate threat to the United States.  That deception broke the sacred trust between Commander and Chief and his troops, that he'll send them into battle only when absolutely needed.

Recently Bush made the mistake of saying "I lied."  Of course, he was saying this to deny that he lied, but that he uttered those words shows how little control Bush's team currently has over the debate.  Bush is no longer in control of the questions being asked.  Rather than, "should we stay the course and fight terrorism?" the question has become, "can we trust Bush?"

Of course, we cannot trust Bush.  And so long as that is what we are talking about, Bush will continue to look bad.  He lied about the reasons to go to war.  He lied to the Congress.  He lied to the United Nations.  He lied to the American people.

Representative Murtha was not talking about Bush lying.  He was talking about the best course for the war.  Murhtha's basic point was simple: There is nothing more that the military can do.  Being there keeps the Iraqi government from governing, and does no good.  This conversation needs to continue, and it will - given both Bush's low ratings and the terrible situation on the ground in Iraq.

We need both debates: Can we trust Bush?  Should we remain in Iraq? The answer to both questions is no.  And so long as these are the questions Americans are asking, the sooner Bush's reign of terror will end.

cross posted: Econo Culture's Blog: Political Porn

Originally posted to Tom Kertes on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:26 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Love These Guys (none)
    This is their strategy to fight back?  Well, it continues to put the question front and center in the news, so way to keep the debate going guys.

    Absolute Horror: The Best in Bad Horror Movies

    by dansac on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:36:14 PM PST

  •  Title: OOOps (none)
    Cheney has always had very limited credibility, like Condi. Most people didn't listen to him long enough to pay attention to his grim mutterings. Now Bush's credibility is shot. When you have to state that you didn't lie, you're already doomed indeed, since everyone already knows you're a liar.
  •  Have a *peach* on me ... (none)
     ... I know an orange grove where they are blooming this winter.

    -5.13;-6.92 George Bush, Jr: Barbara-f8cker

    by Yellow Canary on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:46:52 PM PST

  •  Great Analysis... (none)
    I think you're right.  And by extension... If Bush and Cheney lose the debate (what has become only a consideration as to what to do about it) as to whether they lied us into war, not just Bush and Cheney, but Republicans in general, are toast for the next score of years.

    Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. - OWH

    by blockbuster on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:53:18 PM PST

  •  I totally agree with your comments. (none)
    Just before the fixed 2004 election, I got into a rant with a rightie on my e-mail, saying NO WMDS, NO TIES TO 9/11, NO NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES, ALL LIES!!  This put my rightie into a complete freak-out.  His defense?  "No one is lying if they BELIEVE they're telling the truth and I'm donating more money now to Republicans because of what you're saying about my president!"  Of course, everything I said then was true and now, as you've pointed out, we must keep chanting, loud and clear, BUSH IS A LIAR!!  Bush can't be trusted and we need to BRING THEM HOME FROM IRAQ NOW!  Just as in Vietnam, ending this illegal, immoral war will only serve to help the Iraqis recover from our assault on their nation to steal their oil.  I'm sure our country will suffer the consequences of Bu$hCo's actions in the future, but at least we'll be saving some lives right now.  Especially the lives of American soldiers who have been so misused by their "elected" leaders.  PEACE NOW!
  •  damn it (none)
    D.S.M. D.S.M. D.S.M D.S.M D.S.M D.S.M D.S.M D.S.M.      "  THE FACTS WERE FIXED  "    !
  •  Let me dissect it further (none)
    Look carefully at this part of the phrase:

    What is not legitimate -- and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible -- is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence.

    They never said that Saddam was directly related to the 911 attack.  They didn't have to.  The Bush Administration and the Republican party have enough surrogates to spread the word.  Between FOX News, talk radio and TV commentators, they got all the misleading they needed. Like so much of what Dick Cheney says - it's just BS.

    MQAblog In the right. On the Left.

    by MQAblog on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 02:18:44 PM PST

  •  Cheney himself misled, (none)
    over and over, about Saddam's nuclear capability and about the link to 9/11 (the mythical Prague meeting between Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer).

    Whether he did it "purposely" or not is something he only knows. But given his track record in these matters, it is entirely appropriate to assert that Dick Cheney lied about these matters, in order to encourage public support for the war.

    Some Democratic senators should be out there TODAY calling Cheney on his bullshit.  

    The Republicans want to cut YOUR Social Security benefits.

    by devtob on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 02:42:55 PM PST

    •  I agree the key word is purposely (none)
      Bush did not purposely mislead us into war.

      Which means that he inadvertently mislead us into war.

      Also, notice that Cheney never says that he himself never purposely mislead Bush or us into war.

      The Republicans have a fundamental problem with telling the truth - Howard Dean.

      by NYC Sophia on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 03:19:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am not a crook, er liar (none)
    that is what is coming from bush soon
  •  I think Karen Hughes (none)
    is working overtime.  They've added a new talking point:  Its alright to criticize and express your opinion about the war.

    If they say that enough people will remember that they don't retaliate against people who don't agree with them, therefore, they couldn't possibly have outted Plame just to be mean.

    Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?...Carley Sheehan

    by nupstateny on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 03:56:07 PM PST

  •  One among many. (none)
    Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors -- confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.

    Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention
    August 26, 2002

    In August of '02 there was plenty of reason for doubt. This is a lie about pre-war intelligence. 'Nuff said?

    Beware the person who offers simple solutions to complex problems. IBE

    by JimG 103 on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 03:59:42 PM PST

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