Saturday, March 04, 2006

I wrote a blog posting earlier today about the Pat Tillman investigation, and as I was writing it what hit me is how doggone unnecessary all the Bush scandals have been. I mean, I know that all Presidents, and their administrations, lie sometimes, and sometimes there may even be very good reasons for the lie, for example to protect the security of the United States. But so many of the Bush lies have been in situations where there was absolutely nothing to be gained by lying, and where the truth would not have been so awful if it were said. And the penalty for the lies is that now they are catching up to him, making things much more unpleasant for the White House than they would have been if they'd just told the truth.

Of course, the grandmother of lies was about the supposed weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was supposed to have all over Iraq, which could deploy in 45 minutes and kill millions in surrounding countries with poison gas attacks. Now, this lie was enough to stampede a lot of people into supporting the Iraq war. Suppose though that he hadn't told it. Suppose he had simply said that Saddam was an evil guy, and because he was so wickedly evil, that he (Bush) had made a decision to invade Iraq and try to replace him with a Democracy. Those who opposed the war on the grounds that it isn't our business to 'fix' everyone else's problem would still have opposed the war. And probably been joined by others. But given Bush's stance on the matter the war would have happened anyway, and we would pretty much be where we are today-- but he would have had a lot more credibility on that and other issues. So, the lie that he told has damaged him, and in the end he has gained nothing for it.

And what of telling the truth-- too much of it? Someone-- Scooter Libby, or Karl Rove, or both-- leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. This was done for a crassly political reason, to get back at her husband, Joe Wilson. So today, Libby is gone and under indictment, the investigation continues against Rove, and as I blogged sometime back, morale at the CIA has hit rock bottom (if you can't trust the C-in-C then who can you trust?) with huge numbers of career officers leaving. Now, if they had not leaked the name-- how would things be different? Probably very little in terms of the international situation, except that we would still have more experienced professionals in their jobs at the CIA, but certainly very different in the Bush administration. Scooter Libby would still be working for Dick Cheney (who knows, with a more experienced chief of staff, he might even have had the right hunting permits), Karl Rove and the President wouldn't have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and people wouldn't wonder about the commitment of the administration to national security and protecting our officers in the field.

The White House lied about the projected costs of the Medicare prescription drug bill in order to get it passed. What good does it do to lie in order to pass bad legislation? It's still bad legislation, especially if it gets passed.

The White House lied about how creating private accounts would do anything to save Social Security. Fortunately by that time, his own lies had caught up with him (especially the one he told on October 18, 2004, a day after John Kerry had accused the administation of having a plan to begin privatizing Social Security, and the President denied it and accused Kerry of using 'scare tactics.' Maybe he pulled his plan out too soon after the election to avoid having that quote thrown back at him.)

We of course have the Tillman investigation. I blogged on it earlier today at Deep Thought, but suffice to say that the criminal investigation announced today would not have happened if they had told the truth when it happened. We know that he was killed by friendly fire anyway, just now the fire is directed at the army and the Defense Department.

There was the speech in Buffalo where the President said that 'we're talking about getting a warrant,' before tapping people's phones. So now, we know they don't necessarily get one. The cost of his earlier speech is that people question him when he claims that they only monitor conversations involving suspected foreign terrorists. We know they have the technological capability to monitor domestic calls, that they do in fact 'mine' data, and as such, what the President's lie has done is make anything he says about limiting the warrantless wiretaps that he denied using in his speech, highly suspect.

We have the denial by the President that he knew Jack Abramoff. Then pictures came out showing Abramoff meeting the President, and records that show that he met with him often. Now, what would be the harm to the President if he had simply said that he knew Jack Abramoff, but didn't know he was corrupt? People understand if you make a mistake, but much less so if you compulsively lie about it.

The Dick Cheney hunting accident? Wouldn't have been a story except for how the White House handled it-- first saying nothing, then saying as little and in as misleading a way as possible, then coming out and saying they were saying everything there was to say about it even as the Press secretary who was talking about being completely open knew that Dick Whittington had suffered a minor heart attack but chose to not say it (thereby keeping the story going for at least three more days).

The President and his administration has had 'complete confidence' that, among others, Jeff Gannon, Bernard Kerik, Harriet Miers and Michael Brown were all qualifed for the job. Need I say more?

Now, like I said, all of this was just SO... DARN... UNNECESSARY. An administration with even a minimal amount of competence would have avoided all of it.

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