The Lies of George W. Bush
by David Corn
Presidents have lied, as a matter of habit, since the institution was formed. Lincoln lied when he portrayed himself as a simple country lawyer, we invaded Mexico based on deliberate falsehoods under Polk, and Johnson had his Gulf of Tonkin. It is doubtful that a study of any president would be free from examples of truth-bending. This is not to say that misleading the nation and the world is right, only that it isn’t rare. What’s rare is that a president is ever taken to task for it. The Johnsons and Clintons serve out their terms, protected by our national security apparatus–damaged, yes, but serving to the end. Only Richard Nixon has had his reign prematurely ended because of his falsehoods.
It is doubtful given the Republican controlled Congress that our current Liar in Chief, George W. Bush, will have his time at the helm shortened by even a day, but one cannot abandon hope. The Lies of George W. Bush shows that most every statement Bush campaigned on was a distortion of his record, his promises to “return to the White House an element of integrity” a hollow sham. David Corn– who it must be said is an editor at the liberal journal The Nation, and thus would have his sabers drawn for any GOP president•has documented an impressive (or amazingly depressing) catalog of the inability of our President to tell the truth.
What has allowed Bush to present himself as an honest, Christian man while all the while serving up easily refutable falsehood after falsehood? The 9/11 attack on America, which transformed an inept, big business toady into a statesman. Without the “War on Terror” a second term for Bush would have been unthinkable-even allowing for the recent economic surge, Bush’s religious right hot topics of abortion, faith-based funding – and don’t forget gay marriage – wouldn’t carry an election. No, it is only as commander in chief that Bush continues living in the White House, escaping the fate of his father, who had his misrepresented, fraudulent war too early to save his political hide. The book quotes Machiavelli’s statement “Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions” and by keeping the world in a state of constant fear of imminent attack (either against us, or against someone else), Bush is able to get away with any bit of spurious gibberish that escapes his mouth. The infamous “16 words” of his State of the Union address is an apt example. Right-wing mouthpieces are fond of hanging on the semantics of the statement – that Bush didn’t lie when he said “The British government has learned…” – and in a limited sense, this is true. While Bush’s speechwriters worked overtime to exactly craft a phrase that was both strongly worded while at the same time immediately deniable, they never lost sight of their intent, which is the entire point. Bush’s intent in his address was to state that Iraq had attempted to purchase materials to make an atom bomb. This statement was a lie, and Bush knew it as he spoke it. He could come out with the statement “The government of Iceland has learned that Syria has attempted to purchase Disneyland” tomorrow and use it as a pretext for invasion.
This book paints a one-sided view of Bush, as is to be expected, and statements that have been borne out to be true are ignored. But since the majority of those most likely occurred in closed-door meetings with big time donors to his campaign and energy companies, we aren’t privy to them. The importance of this book is in its cataloging of the seeming inability of Bush to tell the truth on any major subject. It is a book to loan to your friends who keep the radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh and replace the flags on their import car every 3 months.