There’s still a lot of talk in DC surrounding President Barack Obama’s shout-out to former President George W. Bush during his speech on Iraq Tuesday night.
While many conservatives believe that Obama did the right thing, some liberals think the call amounted to a pat on the back, and are angry that the president who campaigned against the war said nothing about the US disinformation campaign regarding nonexistent Iraq WMD.
The following day, pundits continued to argue about whether Bush deserved praise for his role in withdrawing troops from Iraq. Appearing on CNN Wednesday night, former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said he wished that Obama had mentioned Bush more in the speech.
The former press secretary helped found the now-defunct Freedom’s Watch organization which lobbied in support of President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” following Obama taking office.
“I think it would have been gracious of him if he’d mentioned the surge, but the problem he has, for President Obama to put the words ‘President Bush,’ ‘Iraq’ and anything good in the same sentence, the Democrat [sic] base, which already doesn’t want to show up in November — what will Nancy Pelosi see if he starts talking like that?” wondered Fleischer.
“I wish he was more gracious about it, but he has his own Democratic political imperatives,” Fleischer said.
But Paul Begala, a CNN contributor and former advisor to Bill Clinton, turned that argument around.
“But I’ll make a deal with President Bush,” Begala told Fleischer. “We’ll give you all the credit for the surge if you take half of the blame for the lies that got us into the war,” he said.
“…by which I mean Ari himself saying Iraq was an imminent threat to America, by which the president of the United States saying it was a mushroom cloud that could become a smoking gun, by which I mean the threat of unmanned aerial drones that Saddam supposedly had that would gas America, the connections that they allege which were false between al Qaeda and — and Saddam’s regime,” Begala continued.
“So, you know, there was so much they got wrong about this. Some of it just was botched, and some of it was deeply dishonest. And the notion that somehow George Bush is owed any moment of grace here is appalling to the history.”
“Neither you nor anybody else, including your old boss, Bill Clinton, challenged George Bush when he said that, because the intelligence that they all saw, too, led them to the same conclusion,” Fleischer replied.
“They didn’t see all the intelligence, because you guys weren’t sharing it,” Begala quipped.
“[Bush] manipulated and cherry picked the intelligence,” said Begala. “…as did Mr. Cheney, as did Mr. Rumsfeld, and that’s why 4,427 Americans are dead.”
This video is from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, broadcast Sept. 1, 2010 and uploaded by Crooks and Liars.