Rachel Maddow is on a mission -- to stop what she perceives as egregious revisionism when it comes to the war in Iraq. And if Maddow has to engage in the real thing to indulge her outrage, all while airbrushing away the ominous decade between the Persian Gulf war and 9/11, so be it.
The media's fave lefty mouthpiece of the moment has been in high dudgeon, her indignation initiated by Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard describing the so-called "Bush Legacy Project."
On her MSNBC show Dec. 3, Maddow showed a clip of Bush's interview with Charles Gibson of ABC News where Bush said "the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq." Many people "put their reputations on the line" that Saddam Hussein's suspected possession of WMD justified an invasion, Bush said, and "it wasn't just people in my administration." This is "not a do-over," Bush added, but "I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."
Maddow then quotes Rove from a Rosenkranz Foundation debate the night before when Rove said that "absent the [weapons of mass destruction], I suspect the administration's course would have been to work to find more creative ways to constrain [Saddam Hussein] ... I don't think there would have been an invasion."
Here's where Maddow engages in her own brand of revisionism, distorting Rove's remarks and conflating them with Bush's --
OK, Bush Legacy Project, meet the Internets. You see, the problem with trying to rewrite history in the 21st century is that history has a way of finding its way onto the Google machine. Remember what Rove just said? Absent weapons of mass destruction, there wouldn't have been a war. Well, through the magic of the Internets and the Google and the fact that interviews with presidents tend to be preserved on tape, here's President Bush in an interview with Brit Hume in December 2005. He says this, quote, I made the right decision. Knowing what I know today, I would still have made that decision. Then Brit Hume says, so, if the weapons had been out of the equation because the intelligence did not conclude that he had them, it was still the right call? Bush's response -- absolutely.
The spinning is happening right now and history is being rewritten before our eyes. The man heading up the Bush Legacy Project says Bush would have never started the Iraq war if only he'd known. Well, Bush is on tape saying no matter what he knew and when he could have known it, he still would have started that war. They are trying to rewrite history, they're trying to do it right now. We are supposed to not let them. As of today -- history, one; Bush Legacy Project, zero. Let's try to keep that streak going.
A friend of mine describes Maddow as "slippery" and her remarks here are an example. Notice how Rove's comment that, absent WMD in Iraq, "I don't think" the US would have invaded is contorted by Maddow into "never" would have invaded. Maddow takes an opinion offered by Rove -- "I don't think" -- and props it up as an emphatic, unequivocal assertion.
While Bush, Rove, et al., engage in alleged rewriting of history, Maddow's doing her darndest to whitewash it. What Bush told Brit Hume in 2005 and Charles Gibson last week is no different than what Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said during the 2004 campaign, as reported by The Associated Press on Aug. 10, 2004 --
Last Friday, Bush challenged Kerry to answer yes-or-no to the question of whether he would have supported the invasion of Iraq "knowing what we know now" about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.
"I have given my answer. We did the right thing and the world is better off for it," the president said.
In response, Kerry said, "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have."
By Maddow's illogic, Kerry rewrote history four years ago. But her fans needn't worry. Maddow will never trouble them with this inconvenient fact.
He said the decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11. He said this today. Bush said in a world where terrorists armed with box cutters have just killed nearly 3,000 people, America had to decide whether we could tolerate a sworn enemy that acted belligerently, that supported terror and that intelligence agencies around the world believed had weapons of mass destruction. He said it was clear to me, to members of both political parties and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11, this was a risk we could not afford to take.
Hey, in other words, this war wasn't my idea. It was the other countries around the world who didn't want to start a war, they all pushed me into it, they all believed the weapons of mass destruction thing and those Democrats, the Democrats, two-thirds of whom in the House voted against the war, they pushed me into it! I was just one among the international global consensus that believed that the war in Iraq had to happen because of 9/11, not that Iraq perpetrated 9/11 but they all but did, we all knew that. This is just incredible to me.
Maddow disparages Bush's undeniable assertion that he was not alone in believing Saddam possessed WMD -- we know that Iraqi generals believed it as well -- while giving a wide berth to Bush's remarks about how the threat from Iraq could no longer be tolerated after Sept. 11, 2001.
What is actually "incredible" is how any intelligent observer can deny the obvious connection between 9/11 and Iraq -- even in the absence of evidence that Saddam drove Mohammed Atta to Logan Airport. Put another way, al Qaeda did not conspire with Iraq on 9/11, at least not that we are aware -- al Qaeda attacked America in large part because of Iraq.
How do we know this? Because bin Laden told us so when he appeared on Al Jazeera Oct. 7, 2001, the same day the US began bombing al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Mass murderers are hardly considered paragons of truth, but occasionally they do not lie, such as when boasting of plans for a Thousand Year Reich, their virulent hatred of Jews or the motivation for slaughtering innocent people with hijacked aircraft.
Here's what bin Laden said, as reported Oct. 8, 2001 in The New York Times --
...What America is tasting now is only a copy of what we have tasted. Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more than 80 years, of humiliation and disgrace, its sons killed and their blood spilled, its sanctities desecrated ... A million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak, killed in Iraq without any guilt. We hear no denunciation, we hear no edict from the hereditary rulers. In these days, Israeli tanks rampage across Palestine, in Ramallah, Rafah and Beit Jala and many other parts of the land of Islam, and we do not hear anyone raising his voice or reacting ... Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing and the wind of change is blowing to remove the evil from the Peninsula of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
As to America, I say to it and its people a few words: I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
That "army of infidels" in "the land of Muhammad"? The US military in Saudi Arabia, there to defend the kingdom from Saddam and to ensure the flow of Middle East oil to a global economy. The Iraqi children bin Laden grieved for? Victims of Saddam's preference for opulent palaces over food and medicine for his own people while he defied UN resolutions to disarm for more than a decade after the Persian Gulf war.
What's "incredible" is how people like Maddow would have responded to 9/11, not by eventually racheting up pressure on Iraq to the point of war -- but by maintaining a status quo that led directly to 9/11. By keeping American soldiers in the land of Muhammad, thereby enabling al Qaeda's greatest recruiting tool. By continuing UN sanctions -- not US sanctions -- against Iraq, measures condemned by the Left before 9/11 as responsible for killing countless Iraqis. Through the oil-for-food program that allowed Saddam to bribe government officials in France, Germany and Russia while he whittled away at sanctions.
What is also "incredible" is how observers like Maddow are boundless in their wrath toward Bush, yet hardly ever summon any toward those deserving of it, such as Saddam.
Why is that? For the same reason liberals shrugged off Stalin's "excesses," blamed America for the Cold War and deny overwhelming evidence that archetypal leftist Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. They know a soulmate when they see one.