Friday, August 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Lies

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big."

That was what an unnamed White House official told Agence France Presse after the plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic Ocean was exposed.

And in the two days since that potential horror was stopped, the White House, various Bush administration officials, the head of the RNC, and pretty much the entire right side of the blogosphere has been partying hard in their exuberant, headlong stampede to portray what almost happened as a glorious vindication of their policies and an indictment of Democrats.

The word for that is projection, and Joseph Hughes at TPM Cafe notes that Republicans are experts at it:

It's as common a right-wing tactic as is racism, passing the buck and screwing the poor: Accusing your opponents of what actually represents your greatest weakness. So, given Thursday's news, was it any surprise that the party on whose watch September 11 occurred and under whose leadership the world has become a far more dangerous place again put politics over national security, accusing Democrats of being soft on terror, doing so knowing that arrests were imminent? Not only that, but that White House officials seemed downright giddy over the potential loss of thousands of lives?

Speaking before the arrests about Joe Lieberman's loss in Tuesday's Connecticut Democratic primary, Vice President Cheney said, "The al-Qaida types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task." Also speaking before the arrests was RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who said about the Lieberman loss, "It reflects an unfortunate embrace of isolationism, defeatism, and a 'blame America first' attitude by national Democratic leaders at a time when retreating from the world is particularly dangerous." He later added, "Maybe it would be easier not to take the war to the terrorists. Maybe it would be easier to leave Iraq. Maybe it would be easier to stay at home and hope it never happens to us again. But it would be wrong." Reacting to Thursday's news, President Bush offered yet another in a long line of straw-man arguments, saying, "It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America."

In the words of self-styled terrorism expert Bill "Saddam" O'Reilly, "Iran's betting we Americans have no will to restrain their jihad, and judging from the Connecticut vote last night, they might be right." Said the disgraced Tom DeLay, "They don't want to fight this war on terrorism. ... Their world view is, 'Can't we all get along? Surely we can talk our way out of this.' And so when we are attacked, their first reaction is to recoil, and say, 'This is really horrible. It's too harsh and you can't go after these wonderful people that just killed a bunch of Americans. You've got to just find a leader here or there, put him in jail,' instead of understanding, as the President understands, that we are at war."
The worst quote, to me, gives Americans all the evidence we need as to how seriously this administration takes the threat of terror. Hint: Not seriously at all. Per an Agence France-Presse report, a nameless White House official said, "Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big", later adding that certain Democratic candidates this fall won't "look as appealing" given Thursday's events. What's more, we also learned that Bush had learned about the plot last Friday and had received two "detailed briefings" on it Saturday and Sunday, even discussing it with Tony Blair. Curious, don't you think, that Cheney most likely knew about what was going to happen before he said what he said, which came before the arrests? One wonders what Mehlman knew, too, as he spoke from Cleveland. One also wonders what Tony Snow knew when he helped jump-start the coordinated Republican response to Lamont's victory by saying Wednesday, "There seems to be two approaches, and in the Connecticut race, one of the approaches is ignore the difficulties and walk away. Now, when the United States walked away, in the opinion of the Osama bin Laden in 1991, bin Laden drew from that the conclusion that Americans were weak and wouldn't stay the course and that led to September 11th."

I suppose that Tony Snow believes that, if he tells Connecticut voters they just voted for another September 11th, they will be stricken with shame and vote for the Republican candidate next time. But in the real world of men and women who actually survived 9/11 or know people who did, or lost co-workers, friends, and loved ones in the twin towers, or know people who did, being told that you want another 9/11 to occur doesn't play well. Especially when the administration that's telling you that you want another 9/11 just spent the last five years exploiting your pain and your fear to fill their election coffers and consolidate their power.

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