The Truth, Mainly - 02/26/2007

Is this any way to talk about a president?
by Leon Satterfield

Last Monday was Presidents' Day and I found myself experiencing something I never would have foreseen: I was feeling sorry for President Bush.

Yes. I was. Here's why: rather than being honored on Presidents' Day the way presidents are supposed to be, our current White House occupant was being criticized all to hell and back. To wit:

Carl Bernstein (you remember, the guy who with Bob Woodward and Deep Throat brought Richard Nixon down in the Watergate scandal) in a St. Valentine's Day interview on "Frontline," was asked to compare President Nixon's relationship to the press with that of our current President Bush. Here's part of what Bernstein said:

"Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.

"I think what we're talking about with the Bush administration is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation, and unwillingness to tell the truth…is something I have never witnessed before on this scale…This is a presidency that is not willing to tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests…."

Is that any way to talk about a president on St. Valentine's Day, less than a week before Presidents' Day?

Or how about what a first-term member of the House, Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.) was quoted as saying by Jonathan Weisman in the Washington Post (also on St. Valentine's Day):

"We stand together to tell this administration that we are against the escalation, and to say with one voice that Congress will no longer be a blank check to the president's failed policies. The president's plan to send more of our best and bravest to die refereeing a civil war in Iraq is wrong."

And what does Rep. Murphy know about war in Iraq? He was a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad, that's all.

Another veteran of the current war, 22-year-old Marine Corps Sgt. Liam Madden, last month told a church audience in Norfolk, Va. That "It is time for U.S. troops to come home….Not one more of my brothers should die for a lie. This is my generation's call to conscience."

Then there's what Frank Rich wrote about the president in his Feb. 18 column in The New York Times—just one day before Presidents' Day: "His real aim is to provoke war with Iran, no matter how overstretched and ill-equipped our armed forces may be for that added burden. By this line of thinking, the run-up to the war in Iraq is now repeating itself exactly and Mr. Bush will seize any handy casus belli he can to ignite a conflagration in Iran."

As if that weren't enough, Rich went on to say "Oh what a malleable war Iraq has been. First it was waged to vanquish Saddam's (nonexistent) nuclear arsenal and his (nonexistent) collaboration with Al Qaeda. Then it was going to spread (nonexistent) democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it is being rebranded as a fight against Tehran. Mr. Bush keeps saying that his saber rattling about Iran is not 'a pretext for war.' Maybe so, but at the very least it's a pretext for prolonging the disastrous war we already have."

Well, you're probably saying, all of that vitriol probably comes from Democrats doing what the party out of the White House is supposed to do.

But Nebraska's own Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, isn't much kinder to the President's war policy.

"We better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. "I don't think we've ever had a coherent strategy….This is a ping-pong game with American lives."

But what really led to my sympathy for the president is what got posted on the internet on Feb. 5. It's a piece by Richard W. Behan called "From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil," and it tells us that "In the Caspian Basin and beneath the deserts of Iraq, as many as 783 billion barrels of oil are waiting to be pumped."

And, he charges, "The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were not prompted by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They were not waged to spread democracy in the Middle East or enhance security at home. They were conceived and planned in secret long before September 11, 2001 and they were undertaken to control petroleum sources."

It gave me the fantods to read such an anti-American lie.

If you want to share my indignation, you can read it yourself at or at .

But don't go there unless you've got a strong stomach.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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