We got a little taste of what’s to come with Rummy’s speech to the American Legion on Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty. It seems that BushCo is just getting warmed up and if the main course is anything like the appetizers, be prepared to be fed a pack of lies.
President Bush and his surrogates are launching a new campaign intended to rebuild support for the war in Iraq by accusing the opposition of aiming to appease terrorists and cut off funding for troops on the battlefield, charges that many Democrats say distort their stated positions.
With an appearance before the American Legion in Salt Lake City today, Bush will begin a series of speeches over 20 days centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he and his top lieutenants have foreshadowed in recent days the thrust of the effort to put Democrats on the defensive with rhetoric that has further inflamed an already emotional debate.
It’s classic Karl Rove Playbook 101 stuff, starting with Bush suggesting last week that “Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war.”
Vice President Cheney this week said critics “claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.”
And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that “many have still not learned history’s lessons” and “believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased.”
Oh please… not this tired routine again. Even some in the media are on to this, “Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone.”
So, why say it, you ask? Because, White House and Republican officials say “those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.”
So this all too familiar routine may have worked in ’02 and ’04, but now even some Republican’s are starting to draw the line, like Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), who recently aligned with Democrats in “seeking a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq.” Now, when BushCo accuses those “favoring such a timetable of “self-defeating pessimism,” as Cheney put it this week, they risk spraying friendly fire on some of their own candidates.”
In an interview yesterday, Shays said the charges by Cheney and Rumsfeld are “over the top” and unhelpful. “The president should be trying to bring the country together and not trying to divide us,” he said. Shays, a longtime supporter of the war who just returned from his 14th trip to Iraq and faces a tough reelection battle, said he plans to outline next month a deadline for replacing U.S. troops doing police-style patrols with Iraqi forces. But he fears the Bush administration might not be supportive.
Other GOP incumbents, such as Reps. Gil Gutknecht (Minn.) and Michael G. Fitzpatrick (Pa.), are also raising serious concerns about Bush’s Iraq policy.
BushCo’s got back-up to as the WaPo reports, Republicans plan to stack the “congressional agenda with national security issues, including votes on spending for the military, terrorism-fighting measures and symbolic bills supporting U.S. troops,” and Democrats have their own agenda, with plans to force votes on “providing more equipment to U.S. troops” (hmm.. about that cutting off funding lie), implementing the long overdue “recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission” and tops on the list, “condemning Bush’s Iraq policy.”
Bush’s speech to the American Legion Thursday morning will launch his third repetitive “campaign in the past year to address public anxiety over the war.” Bring it on, Dubya, because each time you do, less and less of the American public buys into the sorry ass lies like this one…
“They’re not political speeches,” he [Bush] said. “They’re speeches about the future of this country, and they’re speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy. These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn’t politicize these issues that I’m going to talk about.”
Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei report in the WaPo, that “the Democratic strategy for the next few weeks is twofold: First, punch back every time Republicans challenge their commitment to national security.”
Yesterday, for instance, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was among the half-dozen leading Democrats to strike back at Rumsfeld by noontime. “Secretary Rumsfeld’s efforts to smear critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy are a pathetic attempt to shift the public’s attention from his repeated failure to manage the conduct of the war competently,” she said.
At the same time, Democrats plan a series of events in which to condemn Bush’s Iraq policy and amplify their charge that Iraq is not a central front in the campaign against terrorism. In a late-morning conference call, Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the Democrats’ leading spokesman on national security issues, said only a small minority of those involved in the bloodshed in Iraq are the kind of international terrorists the United States should be hunting down.
Let the lies begin… we’ve got there number and come November their number will be up.