E.J. Dionne Is Lying

Check out this howler from the increasingly-unhinged E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

He doesn’t want us to remember that he injected the war debate into the 2002 midterm election campaign for partisan purposes, and he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he used the post-Sept. 11 mood to do all he could to intimidate Democrats from raising questions more of them should have raised.

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

Now, almost none of this is remotely accurate. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the summer of 2002! Here’s then-Senator and then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle, speaking on July 31, 2002, a full two and a half months before a resolution came up for a vote in Congress, and long before the mid-term elections:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, agreed. “It would be a big mistake for the administration to act without Congress and without its involvement,” he said.

“I think there has to be a debate; there has to be some good discussion,” Daschle said. “There has to be some opportunity for the people to be heard. … Congress needs to be equal and full partners in this discussion, and ultimately in the decision.”

Daschle spent most of the summer of 2002 demanding a Congressional vote on the use of force in Iraq. This was simple pandering to the pacifistic core of the Liberal base, and politically idiotic during a national election year, but Dionne can hardly blame Bush for Daschle’s incompetence (well, he can, but the complaint doesn’t make any sense). When Bush agreed early in the fall that yes, Congress should vote on going to war and Daschle finally realized the political consequences of getting what he’d been asking for for months, he nearly had a stroke. The vote, on October 11, 2002 was 77-23, and Daschle was among those voting in favor, saying:

[T]he threat of Iraq’s weapons programs “may not be imminent. But it is real. It is growing. And it cannot be ignored.”

To further jog Dionne’s Bush-Derangement-Syndrome-addled memory, here’s a bit of good sense from that noted member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, David Corn of The Nation, written a couple of weeks before the congressional vote on Iraq:

The GOP is perfectly within its rights to urge voters to back Republican candidates who support Bush and his war on terrorism and his war on Iraq to come, and to claim that these are the most important questions facing the United States. It is up to the Democrats, if they so desire, to present a different case. That is the essence of politics. The Democrats can argue they care about national security and domestic matters. They can champion a different definition of “national security” than that embraced by the Republicans. They can assert Bush is using a justified or unjustified war to divert attention from the in-the-dumps economy. Democrats who oppose the war can try to persuade voters they know better. That is what an election is about.

War should not be beyond politics. When Karl Rove, Bush’s master political strategist, earlier in the year was caught suggesting Republicans could gain from the war on terrorism, Democrats howled. But he was really only saying GOPers should position themselves close to a popular President and a popular war, and let the voters decide. When a computer disc containing a GOP briefing that advised Republican candidates to focus on war was found on a street, Democrats again complained about politicization. But this is not politicization. Perhaps exploitation. It also is what every politician does: emphasize the issue that provides a perceived advantage. But a crucial component of a campaign is debating what topics deserve focus.

There is nothing underhanded about defining an election as one between a party in sync with a president and a war (or two) and a party opposed to a president and filled with some who support those wars and some who do not. The Democrats are upset because, split as they are, they do not believe they benefit from such a comparison.

Just so. And that’s also why Dionne and others on the Left are in a hissy fit right now. Apparently, it was completely fair to attack Bush for doing things he didn’t actually do–but it’s entirely unfair for Bush to counter by talking about what Democrats actually said in 2002, and are actually doing now.

E.J., get some therapy. You aren’t doing yourself or your side any favors by printing this kind of dishonest tripe.


35 Responses to “E.J. Dionne Is Lying”

  1. Nick Says:

    Whole heatedly agree with most of what you say… except for one thing which I find strange. The way you write it, its almost as if you think that Bush didn’t need Congress’ approval to go to war, and that he was being generous in giving Congress a say in the matter.

    I’m a big fan of enumerated powers… and last time I checked… the power to declare war is one of those powers that is expressly given to Congress in the Constitution. Let’s not forget that. It wasn’t just that Congress should have had a say in it… ultimately it was only their say that mattered.

    Bush is Commander-in-Chief… but ultimately that just means he decides how the war is executed.. but who to execute is power that resides with Congress… as it should.

  2. Ed Driscoll.com Says:

    Rope-A-Doping Lying Liars

    While Steve Green is in transit to the Pajamas Media eastern command post (wonder what he’ll make of the Austin Powers psychadelia meets Max Headroom chewing gum and bailing wire tech), Will Collier is holding down the fort–err, bar, at…

  3. kreiz Says:

    This kind of historical revisionism is great. Bush 41’s pre-Gulf War efforts don’t stick in my mind as one of the “most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation.” 48 Dem senators opposed the war, painting vivid pictures of 50,000 to 100,000 US deaths. If the war had stalled for any length of time, you bet your bippy that the Dems would’ve been taken out after Bush 41. The Dems were still in the throes of Vietnam. Funny, a successful war is always supported after-the-fact.

  4. hey Says:


    you may not be aware, but the argument for not needing a congressional declaration was the various pieces of enabling legislation for the Gulf War armistice as well as those calling for Iraq to be liberated from Saddam’s rule. Since Saddam was violating a bunch of treaties that halted the previous war, W had the ability to go (back) to war, as well as having a Congressional demand that Saddam be replaced. You may not like this or feel that it was sufficient, but it was there and is a legitimate (and fairly solid) rationale.

  5. Neptunus Lex Says:

    Politics by other means

    This is new: The President dared to defend his presentation of pre-war intelligence and call out those who would, for political advantage, twist the facts and history of events leading up to the war in Iraq. I say for political advantage, because no s…

  6. tefta Says:

    When David Corn is holding the high ground, how low must EJ be? Pretty darn low, I’d say.

  7. beautifulatrocities Says:

    The Corn piece is sensible. I used to subscribe to the Nation before I couldn’t stomach it anymore, but there was occasionally some good writing in it, sandwiched between the Gore Vidal/Alexander Cockburn/Robert Scheer Axis of Crackpot, & the Katha Pollitt/Katrina vanden Heuval/Barbara Kingsolver Axis of Twit

  8. wayne Says:

    I read Dionne’s column the same way you did. First he tries the tired ol’ three card monte routine of accusing Bush of questioning the patriotism of his critics, then he moves on to how mean Bush was to put these spaghetti-spined Dem’s on the spot right before an election. How dare he? Didn’t he realize the admirable thing to do would be to allow the Dem’s two years to obsfucate their vote?

  9. William Says:

    I think all this discussion about revisionism circumvents and neglects the more important point: How did we screw up so badly in Iraq?

    Yes, there are and were legitimate reasons for going in (I don’t consider WMD’s to be in the top 2), but how did the US allow such a weak military plan to carried out? We had no postwar planning, not enough soldiers, very little international support, and thus set the stage for the situation we are in, where we have, despite being on the right path, thusfar done more harm than good.

    To make it worse, this is all in stark contrast to Gulf War I, where everything went smoothly in accordance with the Powell doctrine, which was entirely neglected in GWII.

    Now the very concepts of nation building, regime change, and American wars stands the chance of being maligned and shunned in the American political atmosphere for decades to come. And not because they are bad concepts, but because they were badly implemented.

    Whose fault is this? Personally, I say primarily the executive branch for being hugely incompetent, secondarily congress for trusting the executive branch, and finally the American people for their unwillingness to sacrifice (thus put more effort into this war). Feel free to disagree, but please have some substance.

  10. corvan Says:

    Why hijack this thread when you could simply start your own blog?

  11. JD Says:

    Corvan – the reason is simple. It’s much easier to copy-and-paste Donk talking points than it is to come up with original material and formatting.

    That, and “bushsucks.blogspot.com” is already taken.

  12. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Seems to me you should know this stuff, but here are a couple of examples–that you should have heard of.
    1991 went smoothly because it only kicked SH out of Kuwait. His armies were at the end of their supply line–which had been cut. What happened to them was what happened to them in 2003, which is to say they got hammered or evaporated most quickly.
    In 1991, we did not move into his territory, surrounded by forces we would have to fight. You presume this is a reprise of 1991. Not even close.
    Clear now?
    In 1991, he had not thought to bribe potential allies. We were supposed to outbid SH for the French? They had much to lose. Contracts, intelligence on how they’d been complicit in sanctions busting, so forth. You know that a Frenchman, Merimee, once a UN diplomat, has been JAILED in the OIF investigation. Others are being investigated but apparently sleep at home, for now. It wasn’t a failure of diplomacy. Ditto Russia and Germany.
    We had fewer soldiers because of Clinton’s squandering of the military. On the other hand, whether we had enough or not enough is not evident. What, exactly, would more do? Keep in mind that they’d all have to be supported. More footprint. More targets. No matter how many we have, we couldn’t be everywhere, so the question is are we in enough places? Follow Belmont Club or The Fourth Rail.
    We didn’t hammer the country flat, kill the bulk of its young men as we did to Germany and Japan, so, as V. Hanson noted, they may not be convinced they lost. Not convinced enough.
    Presuming we didn’t have a plan for the post-three-weeks period. How long until we came up with one? A week? What would it have looked like? How would it have been different?

    Ken Layne & co. are hammering Green and Reynolds for complaining about dems and press lies. Interesting.
    I made the following point, which I believe was deleted, although as these things go, it may reappear.

    Suppose CBS’ TANG document fraud and bogus al Kaka ammo dump stories had not been debunked until after the election and Kerry won. We see Rather trying to read the news through a fixed, ear-to-ear grin. When called on it, he says, tough shit.
    Would the danger to the First Amendment be greater than today?
    If not, why not?

  13. William Says:

    Sorry for trying to get some discussion (I suppose).

    I’m not saying Bush is any more incompetent than any other politician, so far as the war is presently concerned. Certainly the mere fact that he is sticking to it deserves considerable credit.

    That being said, I’m not at all convinced that regime change requires this kind of suffering. I think if we had had a plan, the Iraqis would have run with it, and there’s no denying that we screwed up on a catastrophic scale.

    But I’ll leave you to your politics and move to my own blog.

  14. Robin Roberts Says:

    William, your comments are just ignorant. We had a plan, parts of it worked so great that people have forgotten the concerns pre-war ( like our fear that the Shiites would fight us due to religious extremism ), some parts didn’t work well and had to be rethought. The political organization has gone much faster than most people thought possible – and that was due to the Iraqis insisting that they were ready to write a constitution and elect a new government faster than they were first credited.

    Nothing similar has ever gone so well in history before, but we have silly comments like yours from people ignorant of history.

  15. Sean P Says:

    As someone who is old enough to remember the debate on the 1990-91 Iraq War resolution, I wanted to echo annd add to Kreitz’s comments.

    One thing I remember very clearly was that there was a pretty significant amount of grumbling over Bush’s decision to wait until two days after the 1990 midterms to announce that he was prepared to use military force to expel Iraq from Kuwait. He was accused of hiding the ball from the American people and not giving the voters an opportunity to weigh the potential future votes of the Senate and Congressional candidates they had just voted on. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  16. GZ Expat Says:

    What was wrong with pressuring them to vote before an election?? I suggests that they might vote different if there wasn’t the pressure of job security on the horizon.

    The argument about Bush 41 and 43 being different is a laugh. The biggest difference…Bush 41 was a nice guy and, hence, a one term president.

  17. bb Says:

    Hissy fit is right. The whining from the Dems right now tempt me to use the “p” word but that would be tasteless. I just don’t understand how various politicians can on one hand expect to be re-elected, based on the promise of wise and effective leadership, and on the other complain that the awesome pursuasive powers of the president overwhelms their incredible lack the spine.

    Since everybody is taking a trip down memory lane, one of the defining arguments to me, one of the most compelling, was given by Senator Biden on the Senate floor in the lead up to the war.

    I don’t have the transcript but he basically laid out the argument that the US and Iraq were technically still at war because of Iraq’s non-compliance with the treaty ending Gulf War 1. It was an effective argument against the “preemptive war” talking points.

    I did find this “Meet the Press” transcript that very briefly touches on that point.

    “But Saddam Hussein, if we leave him unfettered, leave him unfettered for another five years, he will with that billion, $200 billion a year, have a nuclear capacity. This is a guy, remember now, this is a guy who started a war of aggression. He got beat after crossing the border and doing damage to another independent country.
    The condition for him staying in power, the treaty in effect he signed with the whole world was he would get rid of his nuclear weapons. Now what do you say in the future if, in fact, we, the world, do not enforce that? What do you and I say? It’s just like you sign a peace agreement. You clearly violate it. The whole world knows it and you are doing bad things. Now, what’s the deal here? The deal is this is the world’s problem. We should be smart enough to keep it the world’s problem. And if we keep it the world’s problem, we’ll get this done the right way.”

    As the debate rages now, the fact is that I was probably most convinced that war with Iraq was necessary not by the administration but by Democrats who made similarly compelling arguments.

  18. bb Says:

    Sorry, here is the link to the transcript;


  19. monkeyboy Says:

    I wold also add post-facto support to Afghanistan. Immediately after 9-11 the left was concerned that we ould have to find “somebody” to bomb because of our rage at minorities.

    They went from “you can’t bomb people out of the stone age” to “we always supported it” quickly.

    William, on the point of not planning to have enough troops, would it have helped if the original plans included another division going in immediately? Like..oh..the 4thID comming in from Turkey?

  20. doug quarnstrom Says:

    Hey “hey”,

    I do not know that the cease fire gained in the first gulf war actually *was* useful for authorizing the second in an intenrational legal sense. That document was signed with the UN, I believe, and I read a fairly convincing argumtent, I think in the back of Laurie Mylroie’s “Bush Vs. the Beltway” that since the agreement was with the UN, then only the UN could authorize enforcement with the military.


  21. holdfast Says:

    Corn is so deluded / honest that he actually thought that Dems could win on their principles. The Dem leaders in government knew better – they went with expediency and counted on the friendly media to cover up any later contradictions. It was working pretty well until Bush FINALLY counter-punched last week.

    Dems can say that Bush eats ground baby harp seal on toast while ordering the massacre of Iraqi children so that Halliburton can sell their bones for fertilizer and that is civil discourse, but dare to point out that lyin’ Joe Wilson is a Dem adviser whose junket to Niger was arranged by his wife and it is a “smear”.

  22. William Says:

    Monkey, Robin,

    We did have a plan. The state department drew up a very extensive one. It included stuff like securing arm depots and the border. And it was rejected because its’ assumptions were too negative. It would seem that the administration, or the DoD, thought of the war purely in terms of knocking out Hussein, and assumed everything would take care of itself thereafter. Rumsfeld even said, in an interview in Kuwait previous to the war, that he expected we would be out in 90 days.

    Yes monkey, we needed and do need more soldiers, and one division would not cut it. In GWI we had 500,000 for a much smaller task, on top of a larger foreign alliance. Our current force is smaller than some metropolitan police departments, and would have been smaller had some in the pentagon not held out for the current number.

    True, we were not met by violent Shi’ite resistance, although it did all the same appear after we arrived, or are we conveniently forgetting Najaf & Al Sadr?

    Furthermore, we basically created the insurgency. One of our first actions was to disband the army and kick all the Baathists out of the government. Thus we rendered unemployed and angry the sunni community, especially those with guns, while destroying the most effective tool (the government), at keeping order, forcing us to build from scratch.

    Admittedly, we are mitigating many of these problems now, although, as McCain has recently mentioned, more occupation and less raiding would be advisable, something not possible without more troops.

    I just cannot see how incompetence can be accepted, especially when our soldiers’ lives and the very concepts of regime change and nation-building are on the line.

    I also, politically speaking, think you don’t have to abandon Bush to accept his administration’s incompetence in this regard. They have improved considerably, and to this point no major politician, to their dismerit, (except kinda McCain), has called him out on it, primarily because that would entail calling for more troops in Iraq. Besides, we are currently suffering in Iraq, and something is going to get the blame. If somebody doesn’t come out and say the problem was logistical, somebody else is going to say it was conceptual (as is happening), and thus call for withdrawal rather than a stronger effort.

    Admit he messed up, call for a stronger, and let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again. Then we can clear the concepts (regime change, nation building, even pre-emptiveness, unilateralism & WMD’s, if that’s what suits you) of the carnage that is being dumped in their laps.

  23. Riz Wyman Barr. Says:

    Math of Destruction

    1 Comment

    Oh, those WMD
    Posted on Tuesday 15 November 2005
    Some basic facts:
    1) Saddam Hussein had 500 metric tons of yellowcake uranium, and about 2 metric tons of LEU.
    2) An input of 226 kilograms of natural uranium (containing 0.7 percent U-235) is required to produce an output of 1 kilogram of uranium enriched to weapon grade at 93 percent U-235.
    3) The centrifuge method is as easily used for producing HEU (highly-enriched uranium, nominally 95% U-235) as it is for producing LEU (low-enriched uranium, typically 4.4% U-235 in U-23.
    4) A good example of a basic, largely declassified implosion design accessible to Iraq is the weapon dropped on Nagasaki, with HEU substituted for plutonium in the core. With a 10.2 centimeter-thick reflector of natural uranium, a material which Iraq had in plentiful supply, about 18.5 kg of HEU enriched to 93.5% U-235 (or its equivalent) would be required.

    Now some basic math:
    1) 500 metric tons = 500,000 kilograms.
    2) 500,000 divided by 226 = 2,212 potential kilograms HEU.
    3) Assume a (relatively high) loss rate of 10%, that leaves 1,990 kg of HEU.
    4) 1,990 divided by 19 kilograms (one bomb

  24. Neo Says:

    This is the price of having a name that reminds people of a jar of mustard.

  25. wrapper Says:

    Let’s see. I remember the W heaping scorn on dems who wanted to take the issue to the U.N.

    Talking carp about dems telling their constituents that they wanted to leave America’s security up to someone else. Of course the sad pathetic man injected the war into the elections. Try not to pretend that he didn’t

  26. Richard Aubrey Says:

    “injected the war….”
    I thought the war injected itself.
    It wasn’t going to go invisible for, say, ninety days prior to the election.
    Wars are noisy. They attract attention. They are one of the major lines of business of the executive branch and they provide unlimited opportunities for posing and preening at the cost of men’s lives in the legislature.
    How on earth do you think the war could have been kept out of the election?

  27. Scott Free Says:
  28. C-141 Crew Dog Says:


    “Let’s see. I remember the W heaping scorn on dems who wanted to take the issue to the U.N.”

    You mean the same U.N. that used the “oil for Food” program to line their corrupt pockets to the tune of $21-plus BILLION dollars?

    You mean _that_ U.N.?

  29. Sharpshooter Says:


    The Dem’s, going back to 1998 (three years before Bush took office), in their own words.

  30. William Says:

    I think Wrapper’s point is that we are now working with the UN with Iraq, and fairly successfully as well, seeing how the elections that they organized have went.

    Scott, of course a war between the msot powerful nations on earth is going to incur many more casualties than the occupation of a country that actually wants the occupation to win (the majority, not everybody, obviously). This does not mean 2000 is acceptable, nor the much larger number of Iraqi casualties to this point, especially when it was not inevitable.

    More importantly is the effect such casualties and image have on the American pysche. A perceived disaster can and will prevent us from taking action in the future when we need to. This pew study about increasing isolationist sentiment seems to demonstrate as much: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/national/17cnd-survey.html

    I don’t know who Omar from Iraq is, but his opinion does not align well with the facts. We are currently lining up hundreds and thousands for work in the new Iraqi army, despite the huge security risks. Why? Money. Couple hundred bucks a month. All we had to do was keep paying the old Iraqi army, and they would have stuck around, especially if we told them that they were saving their country (this is the rank and file, not the genocidal guys on top). And you didn’t even try and explain why we had to fire every ba’ath (basically the entire government, and all the sunnis), down to the school teachers and university professors. Nor the entire lapse of authority in the time following the occupation. Nor the fact that we DID NOT HAVE A PLAN.

    Blaming the warplan of GWI for GWII shows miscomprehension of my point. Powell doctrine basically says have a plan, have a clear goal, use overwhelming force, and have public support. We had a clear goal, the Powell doctrine provided effective means. The fact that the administration shut out the state department led by Powell shows incompetence as a war leader, and your unwillingness to accept is merely going to turn public anger towards things I know to be right.

    It’s alot easier to defend nation building, regime change, and a proactive foreign policy when gruesome wars are not an inevitable resultant.

  31. PEER Review Says:

    More “BS” from E.J. Dionne

    This insightful corrective piece from Will Collier over at Vodkapundit tells me I need to start reading Vodkapundit more. Apparently he’s some kind of blogger celebrity? Who knew. Anywho, he hits the nail on the head – E.J. Dionne is

  32. rosignol Says:

    E.J. Dionne is still unhinged.


  33. Purple Avenger Says:

    E.J. Dionne is becoming Dowd’ified.

    My local commie rag, The Palm Beach Post (aka Pravda in Paradise) runs them, der Kommisar Krugman, and all the usual BDS afflicted lefties columns all the time.

    What I don’t think is he will be as visually appealing in the sexy photo shoots as Dowd is.

  34. JM Hanes Says:

    As I recall, the Dems were pretty desperate to get the Iraq vote out of the way — so that they could campaign on domestic issues where they were convinced they had the advantage.

  35. wrapper Says:

    C-41 crew dog

    You seem to know nothing about the OFF scandal. Just as well.

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