Doug Giebel: What If Bush Didn't Lie?
What If Bush Didn't Lie?
by Doug Giebel
Mr. Lehrer: Right, well, what - he used the word truth again.
Mr. Bush: Pardon me?
Mr. Lehrer: Talking about the truth of the matter. Used the word truth again. Did that raise any hackles with you?
Mr. Bush: I'm a pretty calm guy. I mean, I don't take it personally.
--from the September 30, 2004, Bush/Kerry debate.
Since the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, much has been written about the lies of George W. Bush, centered primarily on claims of weapons of mass destruction and the other bogus reasons offered for occupying Iraq. During the first presidential debate, even moderator Jim Lehrer raised the subject a couple of times, causing President Bush some apparent discomfort.
In his exchanges with John Kerry, President Bush repeated that Saddam had not "disarmed," which would seem to be the repetition of earlier misstatements of fact made over the past two years. Although Senator Kerry seemed too absorbed in his own thoughts to respond to the Bush claim, it is accepted fact that Saddam did in fact "disarm," since no WMD and related armaments have been found in Iraq. But was the president lying, or does he really believe what he says? And why might he believe it?
By the end of the first debate, George W. Bush appeared eager to just get the hell off the stage and go back out on the campaign trail where he is shielded from critical comments and probing questions. The deliberate insulating of the president, however, has a negative side. That is, when confronted with even moderately-critical questions or accusations, the insulated president lacks the experience to deal with them effectively. Instead, he bristles, as if to say, "I don't want to hear bad news."
Throughout his entire political career, George W. Bush has relied on Karl Rove and others to advise him and often to tell him what he should think, what he should do. They told him what they wanted him to hear, avoided bringing bad news, and this pacified the President's need to be soothed. "Everything is beautiful." At the same time, President Bush appears to be, as he says, a man of deep faith. What happens when the irresistible force of "truth" confronts the immovable object of a reliance on "faith"? For years George W. Bush has had faith in his closest advisors. He has been able to ignore those who express alternative views. Would the president now be shaken to learn, not from critics but from the passing parade of events, that much of what his advisors told him was not the truth?
It seems entirely possible that those who want to wrap a thick plastic bubble around President Bush may not have told him the truth about Saddam Hussein, Iraq, the WMD--and much, much more. Therefore, when he went before the nation and expressed his convictions regarding the threat posed by Iraq, he may not have been lying--he may have been stating what he truly believed to be the what it was, not just the way it ought to be.
Consider the oft-repeated statements that "we relied on the best intelligence available" and "we were all fooled." Both propositions are thoroughly false. Not only were many experts and others not fooled into thinking Iraq had WMD or that it was a "gathering threat" to the United States, the nay-sayers didn't keep their opinions to themselves. Clearly those opinions did not reach the eyes and ears of President Bush. And as for relying on that "best" intelligence: if the intelligence stating Iraq had WMD, was an imminent threat, was ready to use nuclear weapons and all the rest were not factually correct, then that "intelligence" was not "the best," it was "the worst." And so it was. The worst.
For high-ranking counsellors to deliberately mislead the President of the United States into going into an unnecessary and illegal war seems criminal.
It seems clear that George W. Bush enjoys being President of the United States. For one thing, it gives him a feeling of success after his long string of personal screw-ups and failures. "Top of the World, Ma!" And he really seems to enjoy campaigning to his hand-picked audiences where it's all cheer and no jeer. At the same time, the emerging facts and truths exposing the errors of the president's ways are becoming apparent even to this most insulated president in our history. Laura Bush knows it, and even she can't protect her husband forever from the hurricane of facts that contradict his dearly-held beliefs.
What the world may have witnessed during that first debate was the gnawing and dawning realization on the part of George W. Bush that he has been misled and lied to by those nearest to him. That's why it seems to be more and more difficult for him to keep up the cheerful outlook, despite his words about positive thinking. As with drama's great tragic figures, President Bush may be reaching the moment of enlightenment -- the enlightenment he most feared might come.
What does a man do when that in which he had absolute faith begins to crack up and fall apart not just before his eyes but before the eyes of the watching world? One recalls the words of the fictional New Englander: "My Faith is gone!"
And so begins the genuine Education of George W. Bush.