THE TROUBLE WITH THE LEFTISTS’ VIEW OF THE WAR ON TERRORISM IS NOT MERELY THAT THEY BELIEVE LIES, as we have so frequently and so recently proven they do. The problem is they believe so many lies, errors so ahistorical and counterfactual as to represent an unreality. The leftist’s myths, intricately layered and mutually reinforcing, bond in such a way as to enclose their adherent within an ideologically driven mania. Subject to imprecision or exaggeration, and folded within the subtext that the United States has always been an oppressive nation, this fervor constitutes, not so much an alternate history as a fairy tale: a simplistic morality yarn for children that carefully tailors its narrative to vindicate its own premises.
In simple terms, nearly everything the Left believes about the United States for the past eight years is a lie. Taken one-at-a-time, such misinformation is not necessarily corrosive. Taken as a whole, they erode a citizen’s ability to support his nation’s cause during a time of war, giving the enemy invaluable aid and comfort. Indeed, this is one of the lessons of the new book David Horowitz and I have written entitled, Party of Defeat.
Lying Lies and the Leftists Who Tell Them
The left-wing dream sequence begins with the election of George W. Bush – or rather, the election of Al Gore. The Left universally insists Al Gore won the presidency. Campaigning for the nomination he eventually won, Sen. John Kerry whined in 2003: “Florida is the place where America’s democracy was wounded.” His future running-mate, John Edwards, stated bluntly: “We had more votes; we won!” And former president Jimmy Carter – who vouched for the authenticity of Hugo Chavez’s electoral triumph – told American University students, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Al Gore was elected president.” Bush was permitted to “steal” the election, according to the Left, because the Supreme Court halted the (most recent) Florida recount (Bush having won more than one recount already).
However, the media put the lie to this shortly after the election. In 2001, CNN reported that a conglomerate of media groups, which sponsored its own recount, “showed that Bush's razor-thin margin of 537 votes – certified in December by the Florida Secretary of State's office – would have tripled to 1,665 votes if counted according to standards advocated by his Democratic rival, former Vice President Al Gore.” Some may counter that the recounters weren’t using Al Gore’s standard. CNN added, “If that recount had proceeded under the standard that most local election officials said they would have used, the study found that Bush would have emerged with 493 more votes than Gore.” The recount did nothing but postpone Bush’s inevitable inauguration – and prevent him from implementing the comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy, which reached his desk on September 10, 2001.
This lie leads to the next: after stealing his office, President Bush set about dividing America. Al Gore told an adoring audience of MoveOn.org members, “far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America. His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of 'civil cold war' against those with whom they disagree.” However, Bush attempted in his first year to govern the nation as he governed Texas: a bipartisan champion. He allowed Ted Kennedy a hand in writing his education reform bill, straddled a moral divide on stem cell research, and for eight years has negotiated such pork-rich budgets that it cost his party control of Congress.
Terrorism – which Bush did nothing about in his first eight months in office – undid the damage he unleashed, according to his detractors. The tragedy of 9/11 united all political parties as never before. The trouble is, the two parties were not so united. Security instructed the president not to return directly to the White House, a target of the hijackers, and he followed their prescription; and the Left roared. On September 13, 2001, Rep. Marty Meehan, D-MA, pronounced: “I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That’s just PR. That’s just spin.” Paul Begala informed his CNN audience Bush “didn't come home for 10 hours, 10 hours when all the planes were accounted for. And he gave us some cock-and-bull story about Air Force one being under attack.” Way to end the petty partisan sniping, boys.
In attack, contrary to the Left’s pretensions, not everyone was united in fighting the enemy in Afghanistan. Rep. Barbara Lee voted against toppling the Taliban, and in time, more significant players began pulling away from the president. Following 9/11, Bush again tried to unite the nation, calling regular meetings of Congressional bipartisan leadership. In return, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle leaked word that the president was “disengaged” and “uninformed,” killing the unity. Soon, he informed the president he would offer no “rubber stamp” to continuing the war in Kabul. In February 2002, Sen. Robert Byrd blasted the war in Afghanistan, saying it would “keep us going beyond doomsday. How long can we afford this?” (If only the war were being waged in Charleston, Sen. Byrd would have no questions about taxpayers’ price tag.) In the fifth column’s imagination, it was Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq that divided the nation. In reality, only when offered the specter of a second front in Baghdad did the Democratic Party Left drop its opposition in Afghanistan.
The mainstream of the Democratic Left, to borrow John Kerry’s phrase, voted for the war before they voted against it. To compensate, they argue President Bush lied about WMDs, Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda, and its status as an “imminent threat.” War began in March 2003; in July, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-CA, declared, “I believe that this administration cooked the books on the intelligence that caused us to believe that Iraq was an imminent threat.” It has been noted in these pages many times that President Bush’s statements to Congress were less alarmist than those he regularly received from the CIA. (The contention that Bush lied about WMDs, etc., is refuted in thorough detail in Party of Defeat.)
Most of thsee reports originated with one of two sources, both originally anonymous and both discredited: Joe Wilson and Karen Kwiatkowski. Like Mary Mapes clinging to an elusive story of George W. Bush evading National Guard duty, the Left has claimed these liars’ stories are true, even if the sources have been shown maliciously mendacious.
Only by holding to this lie can leftists assert that the Bush administration revealed Valerie Plame’s CIA identity to punish Joe Wilson for telling the truth – and that a jury proved that when it convicted Scooter Libby of perjury. Chris Matthews replied in a fit of oratorical onanism, “This is all about the war in Iraq.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi lied this somehow showed “a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, opined, “It's about time someone in the Bush administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics.” Yet it was antiwar realist Richard Armitage who “outed” Plame, not a hawkish ideologue. And Plameologist Matthews knew that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald specifically stated, “This indictment is not about the war.”
By pushing forward with this unilateral “cowboy diplomacy,” Bush is guilty of much more than dividing the nation; he “squandered” the goodwill of the world following 9/11. As one DNC ad put it in 2004:
A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
Ted Kennedy added, “The eyes of the world were on us and the hearts of the world were with us after September 11 – until this administration broke that trust.” As leftists never tire of reminding us, the day after 9/11 the influential French publication Le Monde ran the headline, “We Are All Americans.” However, the story’s contents belied its headline. The same story concluded that terrorists responded to American foreign policy, and “America gave birth to this devil.” One week after 9/11, in the pages of Le Monde, Marie-José Mondzain of the National Center for Scientific Research alleged that Americans had perpetrated 9/11 against ourselves. There were no reserves of French goodwill to deplete.
Nor were there any reserves of left-wing shame, perhaps best exemplified by the constant rumor that Bush was on the verge of drafting the flower of America’s youth to fight his imperial wars. Howard Dean told an audience at Rhode Island’s Brown University, “I think that George Bush is certainly going to have a draft if he goes into a second term, and any young person that doesn't want to go to Iraq might think twice about voting for him.” Former Senator Max Cleland scared up Colorado college students in 2004 with tales that “America will reinstate the military draft” during a second Bush term. However, the only proponent of the draft in Washington was Charlie Rangel, an antiwar Harlem Congressman who ultimately voted against his own bill when Congressional Republicans called his bluff.
As the war wound on, the Left’s lies became increasingly anti-American: U.S. soldiers torture or murder innocent people. As Al Gore thundered, “Over 100 [“innocent”] captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated.” However, in reality the news report Gore misrepresented stated that 27 of 65,000 prisoners, or 0.0003 percent of all foreigners taken into custody on two fronts over four years, had “been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel” – and most of the two dozen perpetrators had already faced or received disciplinary action by the time Gore lied. Yet he convicted where no crime had taken place – like Jack Murtha’s pronouncement of murder “in cold blood” at Haditha, a venomous lie now disproven.
Yet the lies multiplied, exerting a wearying effect upon the national psyche. According to the Left, the American people spoke in the 2006 midterm elections and demanded an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. They know we’re in the middle of a civil war and want us out now, but the Democratic Party in Congress has been too cowardly to act on this, because the freshmen they elected voted so conservatively. However, the American people have not overwhelmingly backed any measure for immediate withdrawal. The 2006 midterms had more to do with the nation’s feelings about Mark Foley than Jack Murtha. The Democratic Congress has approved multiple timetables for withdrawal in Iraq, fully cognizant that no such bill would ever become law – effectively squandering the nation’s precious legislative time. And those new “conservative” freshmen “moderates” voted for imposing a timetable in Iraq, eliminating a secret ballot in union elections, and increasing taxes by $400 billion.
These are but a sample of the many lies the Left has promulgated, in some cases for nearly eight years. However, even this incomplete picture fails to do justice to their ability to undermine the War on Terror when combined in typical leftist cant.
The Fairy Tale
This dishonest narrative, shorn of any complicating facts, runs thus:
“President Select” George W. Bush stole the 2000 election after his daddy’s Supreme Court justices stopped the Florida election boards from counting all the votes. When he got into office, he did not make terrorism a top priority but immediately began dividing the nation along political lines. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the entire country came together in unity to get those who perpetrated this atrocity, and we stayed united as we fought al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But soon Bush and his neocon allies took our eye off the ball and used the attacks as a pretext to invade Iraq based on lies. Administration officials pressured CIA analysts, twisted intelligence, and insisted Saddam Hussein was an “imminent threat” who had sponsored 9/11. Bush lied that Saddam had WMD stockpiles and invented a story about him trying to buy nuclear material in Niger. But there were never any WMDs; Iraq had no ties to terrorists at all, much less al-Qaeda; and our presence in Iraq is drawing these terrorists to Iraq. (The CIA did not misinform him, because it is an instrument of ruling class hegemony and probably puts manganese into the crack it sells in black neighborhoods, when it’s not blowing up levees in New Orleans.) The administration’s perpetual campaign mode had them slur anyone who got in their way, questioning the patriotism of anyone who opposed the war and revealing Valerie Plame’s identity when Ambassador Joseph Wilson told the truth about them. Bush even declassified sensitive information in the NIE to punish his political enemies. Ultimately, a jury convicted Scooter Libby of fixing Iraq intel to get us into war. Our soldiers – who are too poor and uneducated to help getting stuck in Iraq – are caught in the middle of a civil war. Even though the American people overwhelming want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and voted for it in 2006, the cowardly Democrats keep passing funding bills and ignoring the will of the people. The Surge has failed, and our best option is to redeploy within six months, even if genocide follows.
One prevarication upon another, the Left’s contentions form an internally coherent argument that advances the enemy’s policy goal: to break Americans’ will to defend themselves, to retreat before al-Qaeda, and to give bin Laden his greatest propaganda victory since his allied dragged American bodies through the streets of Mogadishu 15 years ago.
That such falsehood substitutes for reasoned argumentation is an indictment of leftists’ reasoning capabilities; that it does so during a time of war, which many of those falsehoods’ progenitors voted to authorize, indicts their motives, judgment, and desire for self-preservation.
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