16 words Bush delivering state of union address "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" —Bush, in 2003 State of Union speech

Overwrought?

No, over-dosed on bullshit!

Unless you've been in a coma or have not watched a television newscast for the last week, you can't have missed seeing endless repetitions of a clip of our President, George W Bush, making a flat-out declaration in the state of the union address last January that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Africa. We can imagine the speaker notes: [Note to W: Pause for dramatic effect. This is your trump card.]

Among other things, we now know that the claim was based on forged documents and that the CIA and others in the administration knew it was a bogus accusation. In fact, nearly a year earlier, the CIA had sent former US ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to check out the story in order to respond to an inquiry from the vice president's office! (Joseph C Wilson 4th, NY Times, 6-Jul-03)

But the point is not what we know now. The point is that the administration knew then!

baby with foot in mouth

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For an administration with such skillful spinmeisters and imagemeisters on staff, they sure spend a lot of time with their foot in their mouth.

Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell

At a press conference in Africa, Colin Powell tried like the good soldier he is to say it was a tempest in a teapot, "very overwrought and overblown and overdrawn":

There was sufficient evidence floating around at that time that such a statement was not totally outrageous or not to be believed or not to be appropriately used.
—press conference in Botswana

I'm sorry, but I expect my president to launch a preemptive war on information that's better than just "floating around" and "not totally outrageous." Floating around? Not totally outrageous? (I supposed that means it was only a little outrageous.) War demands a higher standard. Interestingly enough, the transcript posted on the White House website eliminated the "floating around" and "not totally outrageous" statement.

The president and Condoleeza Rice began the blame-game by pointing fingers at the CIA. Bush said his speech was "cleared by the intelligence services" and Rice illuminated the target by saying "the CIA cleared the speech in its entirety."

That was George Tenet's cue to fall on his sword, and the director of the CIA issued a statement saying that he was indeed the one responsible for saying okay.

Bush in a further display of his moral certainty declared that the whole issue didn't really matter because "it was a speech that detailed to the American people that dangers posed by the Saddam Hussein regime. And my government took the appropriate response to those dangers. And as a result, the world is going to be more secure and more peaceful." [Smile serenely.]

Essentially that is an argument that the ends justify the means.

All of this fuels the suspicion that Iraq was a faith-based war: W had faith that it was the right thing to do and the administration tried to find reasons to justify it. Instead of using evidence to form a conclusion, evidence was selectively used to confirm a conclusion. (That delicious term, faith-based policy, is attributed to Greg Thielmann, formerly of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, by Fox News.)

They never learn. It's clear how the Bush administration intends to handle this issue: pretend it doesn't exist, charge that anyone who raises questions is just engaged in partisan politics, claim that the whole thing is an effort to re-write history. The Bush White House values loyalty and secrecy much more than it values honesty and transparency. This from someone who, as a candidate, promised to restore integrity to the White House.

The plan is obvious: Do everything possible to maintain Bush's image as commander in chief. Admit no mistakes. Acknowledge no doubts.

Sorry, the Pope is supposed to be infallible, too, but I don't believe him either.

Nixon thought he could get away with Watergate. Clinton thought he could get away with the sordid Monica affair. Reagan thought he could get away with Iran-Contra. Free speech and freedom of the press always win out in the end (thankfully!).

It won't go away. Already Bush's sky-high approval ratings are declining sharply. The American people will forgive a lot. The American people will sacrifice a lot. But we ask our president to level with us.

This Bush tells us there's a "coalition of the willing," but won't say which countries are in it and what they're contributing — it's a Coalition of the Anonymous.

This Bush tells us the US will stay the course in Iraq, but they won't say what that course is, how long they think it will take, or how much it might cost.

This Bush tells us he's making the world more safe and secure, but we are apparently on alert level Yellow for the foreseeable future.

If this Bush wants to be re-elected — as he obviously desperately does — there's a way to do it:

no bullshit