Friday, November 25, 2005

Two-week old quotes

A couple of joyful quotes from the November 11th edition of Washington Week [in Review]. First, the President himself:

The stakes in the Global War on Terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. [long-ish pause] [tepid applause] These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops, and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. — George W. Bush, 2005-11-11
Yes, it sends the wrong signal to our troops when politicians throw out false charges. Well, unless they have Karl Rove plant the false charges on someone instead of throwing the charges directly. Or unless the false charges are motivated by a desire to drag our country into a war of choice, rather than a desire to get the country out of an untenable situation.

The President's reputation for honesty has taken a tremendous dip in the last few months. The problem is, you've got about 49% of the American people who take it as proven that George W. Bush is a liar, and who have believed that pretty much since 2000-12-12, if not earlier. Right now, that polling number has swelled because of the many faithful who are now having their doubts, but Bush can never win back most of that 49% core disapproval rating, even if he walks on water. Having been demonstrated to be an unrepentant liar, George W. Bush will never have my full trust. I wouldn't lend him $5 if his wallet were in the next room.

Whatever else you say, the evidence is indisputable. As Doyle McManus put it:
There was evidence that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction, but there is plenty of evidence that, yes, the Bush administration put its thumb on the scale and pushed the evidence as far as it could to make a sales pitch. But on the other side, there are plenty of Democrats who are conveniently forgetting that they voted for the [Iraq] war.
I'm not forgetting the Democrats who have flip-flopped on the war. The difference is, I only hold them accountable for their error in judgment in 2003, not for finally coming to their senses.

Of course, the prize gem quote of that week came from the President:
Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture. And therefore we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward we make it possible — more possible — to do our job.
You note that the President did not in any way deny that the United States treats prisoners inhumanely? You notice the vigor with which, even two weeks later, the Vice President resists the effort to make it explicitly illegal for any government employee to treat prisoners inhumanely?

Treating prisoners inhumanely does not make it more possible for the President, the Vice President, or the third assistant deputy shoelace inspector, or anyone in between, to do his or her job. In particular, treating prisoners inhumanely does not make it more possible for CIA agents to do their jobs.

The legitimate concern that the Bush administration surprisingly has not raised is the issue of what access prisoners would have to an open courtroom in cases where they allege inhumane treatment by undercover government agents. After all, we mustn't have al Qaeda operatives calling up Robert Novak to help them blow the cover of a CIA interrogator. That would be no more acceptable than having a Karl Rove operative call Novak.

I know it's the day after Thanksgiving, but, in honor of the bits I've just been watching, Happy Veterans Day.