Colbert has fond memories of Cheney pre-invasion speech
Stephen Colbert spent some time on Thursday's Colbert Report reminiscing about the events of exactly five years ago that began the march to war in Iraq. "Let me bring you back to late summer of 2002," he said nostalgically. "Afghanistan was newly liberated and America was still hunting for Osama bin Laden. But there was a bigger fish taunting us to be fried: Saddam Hussein."
"Unfortunately, too many Americans were saying, 'Why Iraq? Why now?'" Colbert continued. "Well, into that morass of look-before-you-leap-ism leaped Vice President Dick Cheney, who, as every schoolchild knows, five years ago this Sunday, at the national Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville, Tennessee, launched a preemptive strike -- on doubt."
"Many of us are convinced that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon," said Cheney in a video of his remarks on that occasion. "Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined."
"And you gotta think, this guy can imagine some sick stuff," Colbert interjected.
"There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney went on. "There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."
"When the speech was over," commented Colbert, "there was not a dry eye in the house. Nor an uncrapped pair of pants in America. ... The rest, they say, is history. Or will be some day, assuming it ever ends."
Colbert then turned to journalist Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, saying, "I think it was a fantastic speech, a landmark speech. Why have you and other people been so critical of it?"
"It turned out to be based on false information," said Ricks. "There were a lot of doubts, and those were swept aside."
"He still stands behind every word of that speech," insisted Colbert. "As well he should!"
"I haven't heard any apologies," agreed Ricks.
"What's there to apologize for?" said Colbert. "If you're such a smart guy, tell me how to sell a war without any material evidence."
"What are the lessons of this speech, do you think?" Colbert then asked Ricks. "How can we more successfully sell the next war with Iran?"
"My gut feeling is, it would be almost impossible at this point to sell a war with Iran," Ricks replied. "This country is so upset by the Iraq War that even if there were legitimate reasons put forth, I don't think anyone would believe it at this point."
The following video is from Comedy Central's Colbert Report, broadcast on August 23.