Sunday Thoughts

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Books, Books, and More Books

President Bush said at Saturday's White House Correspondents Association Dinner that some people say he's not done much for the economy, but objected, saying that he's done a great deal of good for the book publishing industry.

The latest anti-Bush book comes from Joe Wilson, the ambassador who went to Niger to check out the uranium story, whose wife was "outed" as a CIA "operative" by Bob Novak, now has his own book. It seems a lot like the Clarke book, but with fewer facts, which isn't a good thing.

That is, in Clarke's book, his analysis was to be taken with a grain of salt -- because he was clearly so angry with and biased against Bush -- but he was there for so much of what happened, and knew so much of what happened, that the many facts he had firsthand knowledge of were, for the most part, to be trusted.

You could say the same thing about Wilson, except for the "many" part. When he was on Meet the Press yesterday, his most damning allegations about the Bush administration were complete hearsay. For example, an anonymous source tells him that the White House was out to "get him" in March 2003, months before his wife's name was released; another tells him that Novak said -- to a complete stranger -- some nasty things about Wilson and noted his relationship to Plame a week or so before the story broke in his column.

He claims he has anonymous sources, but what reason do I have to trust him, or them? With Bob Woodward, we have not only 30 years of proven trustworthy use of anonymous sources, we have the actual sources themselves saying the facts are accurate (if not the characterizations). With Wilson, we have nothing at all.

That's not to say he is lying, or that his sources are. It just means that I can't bother to care about something I have no reason to believe. Just because you can get someone to pay you for a book doesn't mean you get my trust. You have to work hard for it, and it will take a long time. I wish other people had such reasonable standards.

Kerry : Medals :: Bush : Mission

Look, everyone who can be the least bit objective knows that the mission Bush was talking about on that aircraft carrier was the one about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. There's simply no reasonable question of it. Operation Iraqi Freedom was to overthrow Hussein's government. It was accomplished. He even said in that speech, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous." He also said, "our coalition will stay until our work is done."

Similarly, everyone who can be the least bit objective knows that Kerry was not attempting to be dishonest about what he threw over what wall. Who cares whether he said "medals" or "ribbons"? The point is what he meant to accomplish: to protest the war by throwing some of the symbols of war away.

Both of them acted somewhat imprudently, but both of these little "scandals" -- same as the ones last week, and the weeks before -- are just partisan wastes of time to try to make the other guy look bad, to avoid talking about the issues. Can we please get back to the issues? Please?

Radio Address

Giving the Democratic Party response to President Bush's weekly radio address, on Saturday, was Army National Guard 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of the current Iraq War. He made many excellent points -- including the fact that our military is being used for work they are not trained for (something Bush said he would not do in the debates with Al Gore in 2000) -- and his voice is one that needs to be heard.

But -- could you feel that coming? -- he was being less than honest, and it disturbed me. He actually sat on This Week and told George Stephanopolous he was trying to be as non-partisan as possible. This man, who sought out pro-Kerry veterans groups to see how he could get involved, who gave the response to the President on behalf of the Democrats, who accused Bush of misleading with the "mission accomplished" banner, and implied that Bush said the troops would return home by July 4 (which Bush did not do), said he was trying to be non-partisan. It was a ridiculous lie -- he is acting out the definition of partisan -- and it undercut his credibility.

He said, "I am not angry with our President, but I am disappointed."

Well, I am not angry with Paul Rieckhoff, but I am disappointed. I don't want to make a big deal out of this, but hey, I'm not the one who went on national television and radio saying he isn't partisan. If he actually had been nonpartisan, I'd have no criticism of him. If he had been partisan and owned up to it, I'd have only very little criticism, and probably wouldn't have bothered writing about it at all. But he was trying to have it both ways, saying he is not against the President, while at the same time campaigning against him, so I am calling him on it.


Rieckhoff also said, "I don't expect our leaders to be free of mistakes, I expect our leaders to own up to them." It's a valid complaint, but I urge people to not get hung up on Bush not admitting mistakes.

As proven last week by the heavy criticism Bush received for the *appearance* of a change of course in Fallujah (which never happened, according to General Myers), these days you lose more than you gain by admitting mistakes. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but it's the way it is. That also doesn't mean you can't make changes without publicly admitting mistakes, but we know that many adjustments have been made in the last year in exactly this way.

Different people feel strongly about different things, and this might be one of those things for Rieckhoff. I find no fault in that, though I hope he and others realize that not admitting mistakes in public is not the same thing as not realizing mistakes, or not working to fix them.

Prison Guards

I don't have a lot of substance to add to the story of the horrific abuse shown in the pictures that surfaced last week, that everyone else hasn't already said. Looking beyond the pictures, we can see a larger scandal brewing. It's been said that the U.S. guards were acting on orders from military intelligence, attempting to break their spirit so they can be more successfully interrogated.

And all I want to say about it is that we must exercise caution and wait for the information to come out, which it surely will. Feel free to push for the information to come out, but don't jump to conclusions about what happened. This applies to everything in life -- in my opinion -- but moreso at a time when we are dealing with one of the worst public relations disasters in our lifetimes, where we must do what we can to salvage the situation. Don't ignore truth, but don't pretend you know it when you don't, either.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on May 3, 2004 9:59 AM.

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