October 21, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCIV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

If it feels like you’re reading a Richard Cohen column, then it must be because you’re Not Getting the Truth:


On the road again,
Richard’s places that I’ve never been.
The life I love is writin’ Scourges for my friends,
Oh I can’t wait to get on his case again.

In 1967, following the ambush and mauling of an American unit in Vietnam, …

Don’t worry; I’ve retired the extended quagmire motif -- for now.

… Gen. William Westmoreland awarded Purple Hearts to the wounded. One of them was Bud Barrow, a top sergeant with plenty of experience, who politely told the general that his outfit had "walked into one of the damnedest ambushes you ever seen." Westmoreland corrected him. "Oh, no, no, no, that was no ambush," the general told the man who had been there. Rank has its privileges -- and one of them is to turn black into white.

Say, Dick’s not implying that General Wesley Clark is something less than completely forthright and truthful here, is he?

I cite this incident, taken from David Maraniss's magisterial and brilliant new book, "They Marched Into Sunlight," for a reason.

Pray tell.

It is not because I think that what is happening today in Iraq is necessarily what happened in Vietnam decades ago.

Not necessarily, but hey, if the jackboot fits, eh Dick?

It's because once again we have a government that baldly insists on telling us what we know is not true.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"

Take, for instance, Vice President Cheney's recent speech. In it, he repeated the now-discredited charge that the war in Iraq was "an essential step in the war on terror."

Discredited? In what sense? Has the echo chamber induced tinnitus the Angry Left seems to be suffering from made it impossible to hear anything that is vaguely uncomfortable to their sheltered world view that might imply President George W. Bush and his puppeteers aren't evil morons?

He trotted out the old bugaboos of weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaeda and, of course, reminded us that Saddam Hussein was a beast, a fact that not even critics of the war dispute.

Bugs, Dick, not just bugaboos. Sarin, and toxins, and germs, oh my!

"They must concede . . . that had their own advice been followed, that regime would rule Iraq today," he said.

A non sequitur, but true nonetheless.

Hear, hear. But also, wait a minute. We now know -- as we did even before the war -- that Iraq's links to al Qaeda and therefore to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were so tenuous as to be nearly nonexistent.

And that would be important if anyone ever claimed that Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed because of his links with Al Qaeda, but so far as I know, that claim was never made – no matter how many times the Angry Left repeats the Big Lie.

The celebrated meeting between an Iraqi official and one of the Sept. 11 hijackers happened only in the minds of administration propagandists.

Czechoslovakian administration propagandists. Right. Link courtesy of that other den of administration propagandists, CNN.

There is no proof of it. In fact, the terrorist in question is now believed to have been somewhere else that day.

And again, this would only matter if it was used as a rationale for the liberation of Iraq. But let’s not let logic cloud the issue.

Weapons of mass destruction have not been found.

Sigh. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

It now seems possible that the much-abused United Nations inspectors did a credible job.

Oh, please. A credible job of what? Giving Saddam Hussein the chance to hide or export his WMD so it would be extremely difficult for allied forces to find them later? Of course, Saddam probably assumed he would just have to ride out the storm. Nothing before could have led him to believe that the US or the UN would really depose him.

Of course Hussein once had such weapons and used them, ...

Gas me once, shame on you. Gas me twice, shame on me.

... but sanctions and inspections -- not to mention the looming threat of war -- may actually have done the trick.

That’s right; I forgot that Richard believes in the efficacy of the stern finger-wagging threat. The unyielding hold on the utopian mind that pointing a finger at someone and squinting will do the trick is something to behold. Hmmm, where have I heard this before?

If these weapons programs still existed, particularly the nuclear one, they did so in the most rudimentary form.

And we knew that before hostilities began because of the fine job the UN inspectors were doing, right Dick?

This was no just-in-time program.

Thank God. I can only assume that Mr. Cohen would be more pleased if Saddam's weapons programs had progressed somewhat farther from this sentiment.

President Bush now says the American people "aren't getting the truth" about Iraq, and so he has taken his pitch to regional media outlets that are thought to be more compliant than the national newspapers and television networks.

Maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for the administration to seek out alternative outlets for reporting the news if Big Media deigned to offer something approaching a balanced view of what has actually transpired in the liberation of Iraq, instead of the endless doom and gloom, which somehow wouldn't be so bad if only Al Gore were in charge.

He forgets that many of the national outlets originally supported the war in Iraq -- my own Washington Post and yours truly come to mind.

Non sequitur alert! The fact that Dick supported the war before it happened doesn’t give him carte blanche to ignore or distort reality now. Not that Dick has ever needed a reason to ignore or distort reality before.

Now the president says that great and wonderful things are happening in Iraq but that the media are unaccountably fixated on the daily suicide bombings and the general chaos.

Perhaps, because it’s true. But who's General Chaos?

But there are plenty of reports about progress in Iraq -- the opening of schools, etc.

Thank goodness for blogs. I sure haven’t seen many of these stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where I live.

Still, both the press and the American public are entitled to wonder whether these numbers add up to anything more than wishful thinking.

And if they do, then what?

Vietnam –

Flashbacks of the glory days of marches and protests 35 years on must be a bitch.

… that awful analogy …

Yes Dick, it is truly an awful analogy.

– also produced its hopeful numbers, enemy body counts and the like, and while they were often wrong and sometimes just plain lies, even when they were true, they were largely beside the point.

You see truth is a subjective construct used by those in power to oppress those without it. Truth is whatever Big Media, uh, I mean, Big Brother wants it to be.

A school could be opened -- and the students still fight you at night.

Yea, all those massacres involving 10 year-old girls who now have a place to study and plan their ambushes have been tragic. Students? Yea, whatever, Dick.

More to the point is the administration's Westmorelandish insistence on asserting the insupportable -- that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the United States because he was linked to terrorism and armed to the teeth with those awful weapons.

I smell the other Big Lie of imminence nearby.

There is no truth to that -- none. And yet Bush continues to insist on it.

Yep. I can smell it a mile away. Dick can try and cover up the smell with a rhetorically perfumed rephrasing, but the stench remains.

Once, it was possible merely to argue the matter, as some of the Europeans did. Now, though, questions about facts have become questions of judgment -- and candor. How can we believe what Bush says about the reconstruction of Iraq when we no longer believe the rest of what he says?

I missed the part where the Angry Left had ever believed the administration concerning Iraq.

I am ensconced here at the American Academy in Berlin. I came to see my country from abroad, to defend it and what it did in Iraq (to the extent that I can), but the task has become increasingly difficult.

“See your country from abroad?” No wonder Dick’s task is difficult.

No one specifically mentions Vietnam –

Except you, Dick. No one except you.

… that's my own point of reference …


– but they wonder about an administration that has been ambushed by the facts in Iraq and insists it has been vindicated.

Read the Kay Report. Vindication complete.

It's one thing to be an Ugly American.

So, believing in pre-emptive self defense make one an Ugly American? It would certainly seem that way in the circles jerks like Dick run in.

It's another to be a dumb one.

Oh yea, Bush is a moron, just in case anyone forgot.

Posted by Charles Austin at October 21, 2003 08:07 PM

Weapons of mass destruction have not been found.

Saddam hasn't been found either. Maybe neither one of them's real.

Posted by: tanya at 12:00 PM