By Eleanor Clift
Friday 22 December 2006
In the spirit of holding our political leaders accountable, this year-end review will tabulate the worst lies told by Bush and company, along with several stories that were underreported in the media. Much of what was generated got lost in the fog of war, but the long arm of history will retrieve these moments. As the president said in his news conference this week, if they're still writing about No. 1 - George Washington - there's plenty of time before the historians can properly evaluate No. 43. Judging by the mess in Iraq, it could be 200 or 300 years - if ever - before Bush is vindicated.
Bush has shifted his rhetoric in deference to the grim and deteriorating reality on the ground in Iraq. Asked by a reporter on Oct. 25 if we are winning the war, Bush said, "Absolutely, we're winning." Offered the opportunity at his press conference to defend that statement, Bush has adopted a new formulation. He now says, "We're not winning, but we're not losing." That sounds like the definition of a quagmire.
Exploitation of the war gained Republicans seats in '02 and got Bush a second term in '04, but it wasn't enough in '06. Karl Rove decided the best way for Republicans to retain control of the House and Senate was to embrace the war in Iraq and run against the Democrats as "Defeatocrats" and "Cut and Runners." It might have worked, had not most Americans decided they did indeed want to cut and run. Not right away - the voters want an orderly exit - but they weren't buying Bush's big lie about the Democrats.
Bush campaigned this fall as though the Democrats were the real enemy, not the terrorists. "They [Democrats] think the best way to protect the American people is wait until we're attacked again…If you don't want your government listening in on terrorists, vote for the Democrats." Now that the Democrats have won, watch Bush try to off-load blame for the failure in Iraq. If the Democrats won't go along with whatever cockamamie scheme he comes up with, he can always accuse them of losing the war.