'Critics' (and NYT Reporters?) Say Bush 'Squandered the Country's Moral Authority'

February 13th, 2008 11:28 AM

New York Times reporter Steven Lee Myers's "news analysis" on Tuesday's front page, "Trial's Focus To Suit Bush" (on seeking the death penalty for six Guantanamo detainees for the 9-11 attacks) could have more accurately been labeled "one reporter's anti-war opinion."

Note the strangely precise excorations that Myers elicited from unnamed "critics."

Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country's moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq.

"Six and a half years ago, our country faced the worst attack in our history," Mr. Bush said late last week, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference. "I understood immediately that we would have to act boldly to protect the American people. So we've gone on the offense against these extremists. We're staying on the offense, and we will not relent until we bring them to justice."

The 9/11 candidate, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, may have dropped his bid for the White House. But the 9/11 presidency is far from over.


Only a year ago, Iraq appeared to have deflated the president's popularity and eroded his standing even among Republicans and the Pentagon's generals. But Mr. Bush now appears to have laid a foundation to keep more than 130,000 American troops on the ground in a mission he has justified as part of a broader fight against terrorism, despite an overwhelming groundswell against an unpopular conflict. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates on Monday essentially endorsed a "pause" in further troop withdrawals once those troops sent in last year as part of a temporary buildup go home.

Tuesday's story reads much like Myers's "White House Memo" from August 27, which also put words in the mouths of unnamed "critics" in order to forward his own opinions about Iraq, like this:

Critics have called Mr. Bush's ever upbeat message delusional. His rationale for the war has shifted so much since 2003 that any new pitch will have skeptics. His analogy last week between the war in Iraq and the epic struggles of World War II, the Korean War and, especially, the Vietnam War was ridiculed by some as revisionist or simply inaccurate."