Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review July 21, 2003 / 21 Tamuz, 5763

James Lileks

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

No winners in this game of gotcha | 2002: Bush Knew!
2003: Bush Lied!
2004: Bush Re-elected!

Or not, perhaps. We'll see. The entire nation may swing left with such force and fury that everyone in the Midwest not wearing a seatbelt will be pitched into the Atlantic. In the next year public fury may build and boil until we hear people literally punching the ballot for the Democrats, shouting, "That's for the yellowcake lie, you lying liars!" After all, look what happened to Bill Clinton -- he bombed an aspirin factory on faulty intelligence, and less than two years later he was out of office.

Granted, he wasn't running for the job, but still. You remember the fury over the aspirin factory? No? Right, there wasn't much of a fuss at all. The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant was bombed right in the middle of the Monica Lewinksy mess, but that was coincidence. Apparently the CIA got information that the aspirin factory was going to escape in the middle of the night, so it had to be bombed RIGHT AWAY.

Some wags questioned the timing, but no one thought the president made up the target's importance. No doubt the intelligence service presented its information with a certain amount of confidence, and the Sudanese target was added to the list for that two-front panache, the impression that the United States was really, really serious about its ineffectual responses. Did Clinton choose a target based on shaky info? Looks like it now. But we do know one thing: Not everything we know is always right. Even that sentence.

This doesn't mean the president gets to lie, of course. So it's a good thing President Bush didn't.

Donate to JWR

From all the hurly-burly in the press you'd think Bush had spent six months stumping the country shouting about how he personally saw Saddam Hussein slap down his Amex Platinum for a brick of Niger Yellowcake. You'd think the entire case for war depended on this detail. You'd think Bush dropped the lie on the table like a fresh-caught flounder, well aware it would start to stink after a while.

Who knows? Perhaps it's all part of a master plan. "Don't worry, boys, by the time they figure out the whole weapons-of-mass-destruction thing was a hoax, I'll distract them with a big trip to Africa, the very continent mentioned in my prominent, naked lie. They'll never catch on!"

Now we have caught on, and there's nothing they can do but suspend the next election and start shipping key members of the Democratic National Committee down to Guantanamo. Flights leaving daily by week's end, no doubt.

There's no profit in this for the Dems. None. It's tasty meat for the base, but to everyone else it looks like the same sort of perpetual hissy fit that overtook many conservatives in the '90s: "If the public didn't turn on Clinton during the bloody nightmare of Travelgate, they'll surely turn on him for the lost billing records! Finally they'll see his cloven hooves! Finally!"

Each time, the Republicans were disappointed, either because the electorate wasn't paying attention, or wasn't inclined to care or believe the charges. But the reasons for disinterest have changed, perhaps; back then the charges seemed lightweight to those who don't breathe the heavy, humid Beltway air. Back then things were good; the boat was moving again. Why rock it?

Now it's different. Now we are at war. Granted, it doesn't feel like a hot war right now, unless you have a relative in the service. But it's war nonetheless. In the most recent campaign a very bad man went down, face first, and no one's digging mass graves for children anymore in Iraq. The torturers are out of work. And Saddam or his sons are in no position to buy a nuke from North Korea.

Yes, North Korea. Remember? The country that says it's making nukes hot and fresh as we speak?

But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about 16 words. In fact let's go over every speech since 9-11 and look for split infinitives. Let's tear ourselves up playing pointless gotcha. Give the people some political theater instead of leadership and substance. Let them eat yellowcake.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks