If His Words Are His Bond, We're in a Bind

Quick, somebody get the Bush White House a copy of "All the President's Men." A slow drip, drip, drip of incremental revelations and long-overdue admissions is not the way to stem a brewing scandal.

But that's exactly the approach the administration is taking with the firestorm arising from the president's Misstatement of the Union fiasco, a.k.a. Yellowcake-gate.

Suddenly everyone is asking: What didn't the president know, and why didn't he know it? And why does he know less and less every day?

The White House's handling of the yellowcake-uranium-from-Niger deception has been atrocious, and its attempts to spin the aftershocks have been even worse. The White House just doesn't seem to grasp the concept that, when you're sending American soldiers to die, the reasons given -- all of the reasons -- should be true.

In July 1973, at the height of the Watergate hearings, Richard Nixon announced: "What we were elected to do, we are going to do, and let others wallow in Watergate."

George Bush seems to be taking the same head-in-the-sand approach, letting it be known that, with the CIA's director taking responsibility for the Niger snafu, he considers the matter closed.

In the spirit of Tricky Dick, let me make myself perfectly clear: I'm not saying that Yellowcake-gate is the equivalent of Watergate.

I'm saying it's potentially much, much worse.

At its core, Watergate was about making sure that Nixon won an election. Yellowcake-gate is much more than a dirty trick played on the American public. It's about the Bush administration's pattern of deception as it shoved this country into a preemptive war -- from the much-advertised but nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda to the hyping of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

No one died as a result of Watergate, but more than 200 U.S. soldiers have been killed and thousands more wounded to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't. To say nothing of the countless Iraqis who have lost their lives.

And those numbers will only rise as we find ourselves stuck in a situation that Gen. Tommy Franks predicts will continue for at least four more years.

Bush is coming across as very presidential indeed.

Like his dad, he's out of the loop; like Bill Clinton, he's become a world-class word weasel; and like Nixon, he's shown a massive propensity for secrecy and dissembling.

Clinton was impeached for seven words he should not have uttered: "I never had sex with that woman." What price will Bush have to pay for his 16-word scam?


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