James Kirchick, assistant editor of The New Republic, has come under NewsBusters scrutiny for his bias before, of course. Our job is, we all know, to document and analyze that bias. But while we naturally focus on when the media get it wrong, we should have the maturity to point out when those who we criticize get it right. Here is a case when a member of the media that we usually criticize did, indeed, get it right and this time it might get him in Dutch with his lefty pals in the nutroots. After all, the surest way to get the nutroots upset at you is to say Bush did not lie about the war. But that is exactly what Kirchick just did and he did an admirable job chronicling it, too.
In an editorial in the L.A. Times on the 16th, Kirchick said that "Bush never lied to us about Iraq" and then went on to substantiate his claim in a style that runs contrary to the Media and nutroots meme that "Bush lied and people died."
Kirchick started his piece with a recounting of the flip flop that Mitt Romney's father, George, undertook when he reversed his support of the Vietnam war as he geared up to run for president in 1968. Romney initially supported the Vietnam War but later claimed that the administration and war supporters "brainwashed" him into believing in the war. With his flip flop he claimed that he had seen the light, but critics said that he was merely playing to a perceived anti-war changing tide and trying to capture that vote -- in other words, Romney's flip flop was only calculated to get votes. This, Kirchick says, is the same thing that politicians like John F. Kerry have done with the Iraq war. They voted for it before they voted against it.
The left narrative, one the media is happy to parrot, has been that Bush lied us into war. Kirchick points out that "the notion that the Bush administration deceived the American people has become the accepted narrative of how we went to war."
But Kirchick then steps out into some of the most intellectually honest analysis I've seen from the left since before the 2000 election when BDS first began to infect the media.
Yet in spite of all the accusations of White House "manipulation" -- that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods.
Kirchick goes on to chronicle some of the agencies and investigative bodies that have found absolutely no evidence that the Bush Administration manipulated Congress as it made the case for the war.
Kirchick also comes as close to calling John D. Rockefeller (D, W. Va.) a liar as you can without using those specific words when he notes that Rockefeller's "highly partisan" Senate Intelligence Committee report does not support the wild eyed claims made in its summation.
Yet Rockefeller's highly partisan report does not substantiate its most explosive claims. Rockefeller, for instance, charges that "top administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and Al Qaeda as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11." Yet what did his report actually find? That Iraq-Al Qaeda links were "substantiated by intelligence information." The same goes for claims about Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons, as well as his alleged operation of a nuclear weapons program.
Kirchick also trenchantly notes that the latest partisan attack that is being presented as a "report" conveniently forgets to mention the words of the many dozens of highly placed Democrats who's words were nearly identical to Bush's in the run up to war.
In 2003, top Senate Democrats -- not just Rockefeller but also Carl Levin, Clinton, Kerry and others -- sounded just as alarmist. Conveniently, this month's report, titled "Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information," includes only statements by the executive branch. Had it scrutinized public statements of Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees -- who have access to the same intelligence information as the president and his chief advisors -- many senators would be unable to distinguish their own words from what they today characterize as warmongering.
In the end, Kirchick finds no shred of proof that Bush "lied" about anything. In fact, he scolds every Democrat and partisan leftist for saying that he did and that the claim that Bush lied us into war is an "unsubstantiated allegation" that is "cowardly and dishonest."
So, kudos to James Kirchick for an honest look at the record. Certainly we can agree to disagree right now, at this point, if the war was a good idea or not. But, it is beyond question that there were no lies disseminated by the Bush Administration and neither did the president "manipulate" any evidence to "mislead" the nation into war.
Go read Kirchick's piece and marvel that it came from a lefty. He really nailed it. "Bush never lied to us about Iraq" is worth your time.
(Photo taken by unknown photographer at San Fran protest, 2005)