Published on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 by the Madison Capital Times
To Tell the Truth is Not George W. Bush's Game
by Ed Garvey
From time to time, we have all encountered, for lack of a better term, a pathological liar. You know, the person without that little voice in the back of his head that says "tell the truth." Some of those with this illness move on to positions of great power perhaps because of their facility for always saying what the audience wants to hear.
Richard Nixon comes to mind. While it finally caught up with him, truth was never his guide. If he told the truth it was not premeditated.
Now we have George W. Bush. Examples of lack of truthfulness include his shameful campaign against John McCain in South Carolina, the extraordinary Florida and Supreme Court scandal, and debates with Al Gore.
The one exchange in a debate that sticks in my mind was the question regarding affirmative action. In listening to Bush, an avowed opponent of affirmative action except for the wealthy, one could have been convinced that Bush was admitting that he would "act affirmatively" to give opportunities to minorities. With his play on words, he must have known he was deliberately misleading. Of that there could be little doubt, and his shameful position on the University of Michigan case is proof of his real intentions. But I suspect if you could ask him about it, he would say, "Hey, look at Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. I'm a man of my word."
Bush favors open government except for his and his father's. He's an "environmentalist" except for drilling in Alaska, clean air and water. He would leave "no child behind" except for those in public schools. He leans forward on the podium and says it like he means it.
He took us into combat. Not one child of a member of Congress or an official of the administration was wounded or killed in Iraq.
As I looked at the pictures and read the short stories about those killed in action, I saw they could have been a next-door neighbor. They were not worried about the Bush tax plan affecting their lives or their parents'. They were poor or middle class. Dreams of a better life motivated most to join the military. It would be a short-term commitment and on to college - perhaps the first in that family's history. Young, good-looking in those uniforms, they meant it when they said the Pledge of Allegiance. They believed their commander-in-chief.
Now, while Bush marches around like a tin soldier, Donald Rumsfeld declares that he is master of the universe and he wants to make certain that citizens of the world know that it was his plan, his war, and his victory. But it was Bush's lie.
We went into combat, we caused the deaths of those Marines and Army soldiers, and we killed and wounded thousands of citizens. The picture of a 13-year-old without arms and with burns over most of his body, whose family was wiped out in front of him, says volumes. But then Charlie Sykes and Rush Limbaugh will say we are just pathetic bleeding hearts. "We liberated that boy!" they'll say.
And what was the reason for combat? George W. Bush said it over and over and over that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had the capacity to harm the United States with those weapons. That was the reason we could not let the United Nations continue to inspect. We had to act. We had to protect ourselves.
Now we know the real reason. Events proved what we argued in opposition to the invasion. The United Nations inspectors knew what Rummy knew. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had given Hans Blix more time, the U.N. inspectors would have proven what we now know. Iraq didn't pose a threat after 11 years of American bombing and international sanctions. It didn't have an air force, it didn't have the capacity to fight, and it did not have the capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
Knowing that, Bush knew this would not be a war. It was target practice on live targets.
Now the apologists are saying, ironically, "give us more time and we will find" those weapons. The last guy who said that, Blix, was vilified by the administration. But suppose they find some. What's the point? They had no capacity to deliver them, and the proof was that in total defeat such weapons were never used.
But one rule of President Bush is to never admit a lie and never apologize for your actions. He lied about weapons of mass destruction in order to invade Iraq to grab the oil fields, create profit for Halliburton and Bechtel, and tell the world that we are No. 1.
This is a tragedy of almost unimaginable proportions. The United States will be viewed for generations to come as a country that will lie to gain its ends. We, as a nation, are missing that little voice we call a conscience. If the world needed proof, listen to Bush and Rummy say that we invaded for "democracy." But, of course, we will impose democracy on our terms. We liberated them, and by God we will democratize them.
As for those who suffered collateral damage, or lost a son or daughter, well, no one ever said liberty comes without sacrifice.
Ed Garvey is a Madison lawyer who was the Wisconsin Democratic candidate for governor in 1998.
Copyright 2003 The Capital Times