Since the indictment of Scooter Libby, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been under relentless assault.
The gravamen of the charge is that Bush, Cheney and the War Party cherry-picked and hyped the intelligence on Iraqi WMDs and Saddam’s ties to al Qaeda and 9/11 and spoke of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities when they knew Saddam had not reconstituted his nuclear weapons program.
Echoed by an anti-Bush media that can smell the blood in the water, the Democratic Party is charging that Bush misled, deceived or lied us into war.
With polls showing 57% of the nation no longer believes Bush to be honest and truthful, the unanswered charges have had a devastating impact.
But Bush has a last card to play and, on Veterans Day, he played it, the ace of trumps in any president’s hand: the patriot card.
Speaking in Pennsylvania to the troops, Bush said that the pro-war Democrats like John Kerry saw the same intelligence he did and raised the same alarms, and that Democrats now accusing him of faking intelligence are undercutting our fighting troops in Iraq.
Translation: Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. We are one step away form the T-word.
With his poll ratings at rock bottom and little to lose, Bush has just escalated the war politics. Democrats who have had it all their way since Cindy Sheehan set up Camp Casey would do well to wonder whether they have not ridden out a little too far into Indian country and are heading for the Little Big Horn where their daddies disappeared long ago.
In the late 1940s, the Party of Truman and FDR was shredded by Nixon, Bill Jenner and Joe McCarthy for having sold out Eastern Europe at Yalta, lost China, and coddled Communists and Stalinist spies like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White. And there was a reason the attacks stuck. They had the ancillary benefit of being true.
The media may have rewritten history to make the Edward R. Murrow left look like the heroes of the era but the Democratic Party never recovered from the charge its leaders had groveled to Stalin. JFK knew it, and ran and won the presidency as an anti-Communist hawk.
A generation later, Nixon and Agnew charged the Democratic Party with having marched us into Vietnam and, then, when the going got tough, of having turned tail, cut and run, and gone over the hill to march with the children against the war into which they had themselves led the United States. Those charges, too, stuck, for the same reason. They were true.
Between 1961 and 1969 when America was plunged into Vietnam, Washington was a Democratic bastion from the White House to the Capitol to the pro-war Washington Post. When Nixon arrived in 1969, Democrats started calling it “Nixon’s War,” but the country knew it was a Democratic war. And when the liberals turned on Nixon, America turned on them and gave him a 49-state landslide.
Vietnam was the wheel on which liberalism was broken and the FDR New Deal coalition shattered forever.
Now, Democrats have maneuvered themselves out into the same risky terrain once again.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice took us to war but Democrats were the happiest of camp followers. And everybody knows it. Daschle, Kerry, Edwards, Biden, Clinton, Schumer all declared Saddam a threat to the Middle East and the United States. All voted in October of 2002 to give Bush his blank check to take us to war. Now that the war is dragging on toward its fourth year, now that footage of young men trying to walk with artificial limbs is on nightly TV, now that the morning papers report three or four more American dead every day, they are trying to say they were misled, they were deceived, they were lied to.
It’s not our fault!
But the truth is they failed America. They handed to Bush the war power the Constitution had given to them. Having enlisted enthusiastically in a “cakewalk” war national Democrats and Big Media are now deserting and applying for conscientious objector status.
Sorry, it is too late for that.
What Bush was saying in Pennsylvania is this: You may accuse me of falsifying intelligence, but you are falsifying history. And you will not get away with it. I am going to fight it out on this line, even if it costs me my presidency. But if I am going down, you are going down with me.
If Iraq is lost to chaos and civil war and this is an historic defeat and strategic disaster for the United States, Bush is saying, I will charge you with cutting and running, abandoning our troops under fire, and losing the Iraq war. No wonder Bill and Hillary seem wary of throwing in with the Cindy Sheehan crowd.