November 17, 2005

Outta The Bunker; On the Attack

Cheney, excerpted prepared remarks, to be delivered tonight:

As most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s. I know what it's like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully. In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that's been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.

"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions. They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq's capabilities and intentions that was made by this Administration and by the previous Administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions and that, in a post-9/11 world, we couldn't afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of WMD programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, who had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder. Those are facts. What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie. The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we're going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. They and their families can be certain: That this cause is right and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable and this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.

Er, discuss....

UPDATE: I symphatize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period. Oh, and one last bone to pick with Cheney, who says: "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." If we're going to play that game, let's throw the "dictionary meaning" of "last throes" back at him. Let's ask ourselves, would public support for the Iraq war be flagging so, if there wasn't an elemental lack of faith in the honesty and ability of those prosecuting the war. Sure, the Dems are hurting the effort by screaming on and on about the Big Lies, but they're not alone in their duplicities and hypocrisies. Let's remember that too. After all, ask yourself, how many Americans have died to insurgent attacks since May 30th, when Cheney uttered this 'last throes' nonsense?

Posted by Gregory at November 17, 2005 12:17 AM | TrackBack (2)
Comments

Attacking Dems and moderate Repubs is not going to turn things around in Iraq or the White House. I find it surprising that this is the best strategy that the White House can come up with to deal with their political problems. This might buy them a week or two, but in the end, they are facing a restless society that wants to see some heads roll. We are a forgiving group for those that admit their faults. Pointing fingers and complaining is far from admiting fault and is even further away from any resemblance of leadership, command presence or being a man.

Posted by: tregen at November 17, 2005 01:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Might I also point out that contrary to Mr Cheney's assertion that Saddam said there were no WMD (of course he did), most of the UN INSPECTORS were able to account for 90-95% of Iraq's pre 1991 WMD arsenal and were pleading for more time to confirm the destruction and/or decay of the remaining 10%. Whilst I don't buy into Scott Ritters assertions of a conspiracy by the CIA to block the inspections, nonetheless given the comments of Hans Blix at the time and others, I do beleive the numbers quoted above.

In the march to war their voices were not heard, and now would be the time to admit tha perhaps more attention should have been paid to what they were saying and less on creating strawmen from inconclusive intel.

That said, the Dem's stance is highly disappointing - and Cheney, is right on one thing. Now is not the time to be telling the Insurgents and the Iraqi people that in 12 18 months they're on their own....

Posted by: Aran Brown at November 17, 2005 02:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The major part of the debate Cheney is contributing to is and will be taken up with dueling debating points: whether exaggerations and misleading statements by Cheney and other Bush administration officials in the 2002-03 period were technically lies, whether Democrats who voted for the war were acting honestly or blowing with the political winds then or now, and so forth. I don't have much to contribute to this part of the discussion.

Right now I confine my observations to two: first, it is particularly distasteful to hear a senior administration official engage in this kind of debate about a policy he played a major role in shaping, without even acknowledging that the need for the debate would never have arisen if his policy had worked out remotely as he intended. Instead, we get from Cheney this weak and unmanly hiding behind the troops; criticism of his policy from 2002 forward cannot be about him, it must be about the soldiers in harm's way, whose delicate spirits must not be upset by attacks on their leaders. Similar thoughts must have passed through Lloyd Fredendall's mind after Kasserine Pass in 1943; Eisenhower nonetheless thought the risk to morale, such as it was, was worth running, and sent Fredendall home.

The second observation is that Bush, obviously, cannot do this with Cheney. It would never occur to him even if it were possible. Alone among American Presidents, Bush is utterly dependent on his Vice President not just to speak up in his defense but to make decisions and policy. It is a dismaying and pathetic spectacle, a testimony to Bush's personal laziness and lack of interest in being President as opposed to running for President. It also puts Cheney's remarks quoted above about "wild departures from tradition" in a particularly ironic context. The wildest departure from our political traditions during Bush's administration has been Cheney's own role in it.

Posted by: JEB at November 17, 2005 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

????

Or is it simpler than that? Is it not possible that the administration is being deluged by their base - you know, the rest of us - to do something, say something, at least acknowledge the absolute filth being spewed by the democrats every night for the last month. You think the guys in my company are motivated by the nuances of appearing "cheap, vindictive and petty" when they're tossing their opinions around? They live in a world of respect, saying what you mean, and instant karma. Who do you think "Bring it on" was intended for?

It's beyond absurd. "Hiding behind"? Try standing by. You think Nancy Pelosi's vision of America is something we want to retire in?

Don't think we don't love this stuff - Give 'em hell, boss.

Posted by: Tommy G at November 17, 2005 03:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have to disagree with you here that Bush and Cheney should stay above this. The "lies" propaganda peddled by the Democrats has taken such root in the public's consciousness that the efforts of Ken Mehlman and Congressional attack dogs would be utterly impotent against it. Fifty-seven percent--57%!--of Americans believe that Bush "deliberately misled" the country into war, according to recent polling (WSJ-NBC). The administration is facing a credibility crisis over this issue (well, they're facing one in general for plenty of reasons, but this is at the root of a good deal of it, and, I think, the most dangerous part of it). Assigning Ken Mehlman and other people most Americans have never heard of to fight the Democrats on this issue would be like assigning a handful of men with fire extinguishers to fight a forest fire. They simply wouldn't be able to move the numbers in a meaningful way. Restoring the Administration's credibility and Bush's personal resputation begins with convincing the American people that the most important decision of Bush's presidency was not built on a conspiracy of intentional deception. Only Bush and Cheney have any chance of being able to do this.

Posted by: Dan Larsen at November 17, 2005 04:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What on earth are you people talking about? And that includes you, Greg, at least on some of it.

The concept that it's irresponsible to discuss whether Bush misled the American public and his fellow public servants on the Hill without reference to whether Bush may or may not have done so is frankly Maoist. Congratulations on that then there.

The problem that the Bush administration has something to do with a bunch of Democratic politicians who voted for the war and now seem to want to pretend they never did. Well, OK, let's look at that.

First, there's a longstanding problem of Congress no longer voting for or against war, but rather some executive order that gives the president a lot of authority to do so without a war resolution. Not blaming Bush one iota for this circumstance -- the problem stretches back decades -- it's not a good basis to deal with situations as important as war. We want our legislators to take a stand on such issues, and the current system is a chickenshit one that incidentally gives the president too much power.

Meanwhile, in that system a bunch of Democrats went against their better interests in allocating Bush that authority. We all know perfectly well that if every Senator had voted the way he or she actually felt about the issue, the war resolution would never have gotten 70 votes. It might well have gotten 30. The Democrats were terrified of being punished mercilessly for making what could be characterized as an "unpatriotic" vote just a year after 9/11. Anyone who thinks that environment was a healthy one to be deciding this stuff is, well, wrong. But it's the only environment we had, and the prowar people should be glad about it, right? They got their war, after all. What's the problem?

But to return to the Democrats' fears: Has anything the administration done convinced anyone that their calculus was wrong? Has the administration ever held out an olive branch on anything related to the GWOT?

And this brings me to the final point: powerlessness. The Democrats have no power. Bush and the GOP wanted to push that far right agenda -- I'm not talking particularly of Iraq here -- and that plan cut the Democrats out of any part of governance. They voted for the war as a powerless bloc, and they oppose it now as a powerless bloc. If you find the Democrats irresponsible, then what did you expect powerlessness to instill in them anyway?

The Democrats' carping today is the exact opposite side of the coin of the situation you helped put them in. You didn't want them involved then, so they're making themselves involved now. Insofar as the premises for war were a bit dishonest at the time (I myself rather approved of the aims but not the methods), well, the thin support the war currently enjoys stems from that as well.

You guys are in power. Shut the hell up about how the Democrats are making it impossible for you to do anything and take some responsibility. It's your war, it's not going well, and the Democrats have virtually nothing to do with why it's not going well.

Posted by: Martin at November 17, 2005 06:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The ONLY thing going badly - from ANY reasonable historical perspective/comparison - is the MSM and DEM/LEFT's constant attacks on the war, WHICH AID THE ENEMY. As does their call for a timetable.

I've been a registered Dem since 1974, and I am ashamed of them. They have proven themselves unworthy; I could never trust them with he defense of the nation or the Free World.

It is good and right and proper for the elected leaders of our nation to speak otu - take the heat AND dish it out. It is NOIT beneath them; it is the very essence of democracy.

GREG: it may lack decorum to you and your precious
diplomat-type comrades, but it's the way real politics is done.

It is essential that we maintain resolve and focus in the GWOT.

The Dem/Left attacks undermine resolve and focus. And while they are making them for short partisan gain - to electrify their base, and sow doubt among the centrists - the real effect is to aid the enemy.

I KNOW THIS: I WAS A LEFTY DURING THE VIETNAM ERA. Now looking back, I SAW HOW THE ANTI-WAR MOVERMENT TURNED AN HONORABLE WAR - WE WERE WINNING! - INTO A VOCTIRY FOR TYRANTS.

The Dem/Left abandoned the South Vietnamese - and Camobodians - in 1975, TWO YEARS AFTER ALL TROOPS WERE REMOVED FROM VIETNAM! - and they will surely abandone the Afghanis and the Iraqis and the Lebanese IF AND WHEN THEY GET ANY POWER!

This must not be allowed to happen. That is how high the stakes are.

And this is why it is essential that Bush and Cheney and Rummy counter-attack against the baseless charges of the Dem/Left.

Posted by: reliapundit at November 17, 2005 03:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush and Cheney are liars.

Posted by: NeoDude at November 17, 2005 03:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What Martin Said.

Posted by: just me at November 18, 2005 05:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NeoDude is a child molester.

Posted by: profeti at November 18, 2005 08:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

        Pardon me, Greg, but I must dissent on this issue.

        I started out to write a post about how Deranged and Dishonest the Democrats were on this issue, and as I followed some links, I came to the conclusion that they were telling the truth -- Bush did mislead them.  I post about this here.

        Of course, it only worked because W. had some powerful, unexpected allies in the effort: Bill Clinton, and the Democrats themselves.  And I have to boast, he didn't fool me.  But he did fool them, completely.

        For which, thank God!

The House of Saud Must Be Destroyed!

Posted by: Stephen M. St. Onge at November 19, 2005 05:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I symphatize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period.

Greg, the Administration already has a strategy for Iraq. if Democrats think they have a better plan of winning the war in Iraq, then let's see it now.

The Democrats can present two choices to the public:

a) propose a better alternative winning strategy in Iraq than the one the Bush admin has, OR

b) propose a quick exit strategy, using former vets Kerry and Murtha as their main advocate.

Right now, the democrats have yet to offer any credible alternative winning strategy in Iraq other than cut-and-run--a move being spearheaded by Andrew Sullivan's candidate John Kerry and Joe Murtha.

Posted by: john marzan at November 19, 2005 01:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I symphatize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period.

Greg, the Administration already has a strategy for Iraq. if Democrats think they have a better plan of winning the war in Iraq, then let's see it now.

The Democrats can present two choices to the public:

a) propose a better alternative winning strategy in Iraq than the one the Bush admin has, OR

b) propose a quick exit strategy, using former vets Kerry and Murtha as their main advocate.

Right now, the democrats have yet to offer any credible alternative winning strategy in Iraq other than cut-and-run--a move being spearheaded by Andrew Sullivan's candidate John Kerry and Joe Murtha.

Posted by: john marzan at November 19, 2005 01:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I symphatize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period. Oh, and one last bone to pick with Cheney, who says: "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." If we're going to play that game, let's throw the "dictionary meaning" of "last throes" back at him. Let's ask ourselves, would public support for the Iraq war be flagging so, if there wasn't an elemental lack of faith in the honesty and ability of those prosecuting the war. Sure, the Dems are hurting the effort by screaming on and on about the Big Lies, but they're not alone in their duplicities and hypocrisies. Let's remember that too. After all, ask yourself, how many Americans have died to insurgent attacks since May 30th, when Cheney uttered this 'last throes' nonsense?

Cmon, it's unfair to compare Cheney's "last throes" comment with the DEMS "Bush lied" lies. Cheney mentioned it only once in an interview. BUT MANY Dems on many occasions have been repeating maliciously over and over again that bush misled the public into war and that Iraq and lied about WMDS. Wrong war wrong place wrong time, remember?

There's no comparison between Cheney's overconfident (or arrogant, if you like) remarks, and the dem deliberate and INSANE attempts to undermine the president for partisan political goals.

Posted by: john marzan at November 20, 2005 07:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I symphatize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period. Oh, and one last bone to pick with Cheney, who says: "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." If we're going to play that game, let's throw the "dictionary meaning" of "last throes" back at him. Let's ask ourselves, would public support for the Iraq war be flagging so, if there wasn't an elemental lack of faith in the honesty and ability of those prosecuting the war. Sure, the Dems are hurting the effort by screaming on and on about the Big Lies, but they're not alone in their duplicities and hypocrisies. Let's remember that too. After all, ask yourself, how many Americans have died to insurgent attacks since May 30th, when Cheney uttered this 'last throes' nonsense?

Cmon, it's unfair to compare Cheney's "last throes" comment with the DEMS "Bush lied" lies. Cheney mentioned it only once in an interview. BUT MANY Dems on many occasions have been repeating maliciously over and over again that bush misled the public into war and that Iraq and lied about WMDS. Wrong war wrong place wrong time, remember?

There's no comparison between Cheney's overconfident (or arrogant, if you like) remarks, and the dem deliberate and INSANE attempts to undermine the president for partisan political goals.

Posted by: john marzan at November 20, 2005 07:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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