Frank Rich: As the war drags on, the lies get thicker

Published: Saturday September 16, 2006

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Until recently, the mainstream media has been loathe to call out the Bush administration on false statements. And even when a reporter or commentator did so, he or she would would not characterize the misstatements as deliberate lies.

That may be changing. Frank Rich's column in Sunday's New York Times trots out the "L" word in matter-of-fact fashion.

He also suggests that if what Bush says really were true -- that the safety of Americans depends on the success of the Iraq war -- then Americans are in trouble, given the course of the war so far.

Excerpts from Rich's column:


The untruths are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job. Maybe that's why I am beginning to find Dick Cheney almost refreshing. As we saw on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, these days he helpfully signals when he's about to lie. One dead giveaway is the word "context," as in "the context in which I made that statement last year." The vice president invoked "context" to try to explain away both his bogus predictions: that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and that the insurgency (some 15 months ago) was in its "last throes."

The other instant tip-off to a Cheney lie is any variation on the phrase "I haven't read the story." He told Tim Russert he hadn't read The Washington Post's front-page report that the bin Laden trail had gone "stone cold" or the new Senate Intelligence Committee report contradicting the White House's prewar hype about nonexistent links between al-Qaida and Saddam. Nor had he read a New York Times front-page article about his declining clout. Or the finding by Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war that there was "no evidence of resumed nuclear activities" in Iraq. "I haven't looked at it; I'd have to go back and look at it again," he said, however nonsensically.

Rather than tune this bluster out, as the country now does, let's try a thought experiment. Let's pretend everything Bush said is actually true and then hold him to his word. If the safety of America really depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad, then our safety is in grave peril because we are losing that battle...