Me, or your own lying eyes â€¦
On OpinionJournal.com, Norman Podhoretz "debunks" the left's "lies" about how the Bushies spun us into Iraq.
Apparently, the right's echo-chamber has signed onto the administration's "hit-back" strategy. The Columbia Journalism Review has a good piece about how Podhoretz's arguments have rippled through the right-wing blogosphere and rallied the troglodytes that reside there.
The problem that Podhoretz and other administration apologists are going to continue to bump up against is that we all lived through the run-up to the war. It's a question of whether we're going to believe them or "our own lying eyes."
His piece is a well-researched round-up of all the people outside of the administration that thought that Iraq had the now-generic "WMD." Bill Clinton, the French, John Kerry, my grandmother - everyone agreed!
Two problems: first and most obviously, none of those people started a war. Bill Clinton never invaded Iraq, although he did bomb the country several times. French intelligence may have concluded that Hussein had some prohibited weapons stockpiled, but they opposed the war nonetheless.
That's because while they believed that Iraq may have kept some old weapons hidden away, the starving and beaten country was clearly not a credible threat to a superpower. The inspectors were back in, our airforce was patrolling 2/3 of the nation's airspace, we still have a huge force of really kick-ass WMD with which to deter others from attacking us and Hussein was the sworn enemy of radiccal Islamic terror groups (and not even on the State Department's list of state-sponsors of terror).
That's why Podhoretz's lengthy collection of quotes (even Ted Kennedy once said Saddam was a threat!) is immaterial: the lie was the "frame" of the debate itself, and a majority of Americans now know it.
The real question wasn't whether or not the Iraqi government may have had some chemical weapons buried in the desert. The administration and hawks like Podhoretz made that debate into a proxy for the real question: does the Iraqi government have the weapons, the delivery system and, most importantly, the intent of attacking the United States (even though such an attack would be suicidal for the regime).
The answer --regardless of the spin -- was always maybe, no and no.
But Americans heard "mushroom clouds," and they heard "seeking uranium" and they heard Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden used in the same sentence again and again. So whether or not Bush used the word "imminent" to describe the threat, or just words like "grave and growing," remains irrelevant.
And, it turns out that Americans -- 57 percent of them anyway -- aren't dumb enough to believe otherwise.
Kevin Drum has a slightly different reaction.