Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s op-ed yesterday did not mince words. In Dionne’s view, the president’s speech on Veterans Day was pure, “partisan politics” that “will only add to his troubles.” Dionne’s contention was that the president is just continuing a pattern of partisan attacks that he started in October 2002 as Congress was debating the Iraq war resolution:
“There is a great missing element in the argument over whether the administration manipulated the facts. Neither side wants to talk about the context in which Bush won a blank check from Congress to invade Iraq. He doesn't want us to remember that he injected the war debate into the 2002 midterm election campaign for partisan purposes, and he doesn't want to acknowledge that he used the post-Sept. 11 mood to do all he could to intimidate Democrats from raising questions more of them should have raised.”
For some reason, Dionne chose not to address the obvious: none of these members of Congress was in any well compelled to vote in favor of this resolution. If they voted in a fashion that they believed maximized their re-election chances, but was contrary to what they felt in their hearts was in the nation’s best interest, how is this the president’s fault? Isn’t Congress supposed to act as a check and balance over the executive branch? If members cede this responsibility for their own personal gain, haven’t they failed in their responsibilities, and aren’t they themselves guilty of forsaking the public’s trust? Moreover, why should any American revere a politician who puts his or her re-election efforts ahead of principle and the country’s national security?
Yet, Dionne ignored this logic, and continued with this premise:
“The bad faith of Bush's current argument is staggering. He wants to say that the ‘more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate’ who ‘voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power’ thereby gave up their right to question his use of intelligence forever after. But he does not want to acknowledge that he forced the war vote to take place under circumstances that guaranteed the minimum amount of reflection and debate, and that opened anyone who dared question his policies to charges, right before an election, that they were soft on Hussein.”
Oddly, Dionne doesn’t appear at all disgusted by those who, if he is correct, sacrificed their own personal integrity in October 2002 for votes just weeks later. Why is that?