Lies that matter: Did you hear the one about WMDs?

Now that I’ve had sufficient time to mourn for Howard Dean – though I still get a bit choked up when I see ads for the CNN special on his “improbable rise and spectacular fall” – it’s time to focus my energies on getting out the good on the man who will be known as the more liberal JFK and the absolutely infuriating on the man who has forever tarnished the initials GW. The spin the “liberal media” puts on stories about Al Gore saying he “invented the internet” (email me for the actual transcript, you sheep) is horrifying enough, but the fact that it lets Bush off the hook for the whole Iraq debacle is worrying at best.

Fun facts: The UN had serious doubts about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons capacity and requested more time to follow up on this suspicion. By the time it was too late – by the U.S.’s standards, not the rest of the world’s – both the U.S. weapons inspector and the UN weapons inspector came back with the conclusion that Iraq hadn’t had any illegal weapons since about the end of Gulf War Act I. And, oh yeah, that faulty intelligence? The CIA did say Hussein was one killer badass, but they also made it clear that no illegal weapons had been found yet. Problem is, Fox News cuts to a doctored photo of John Kerry sharing a mike with Hanoi Jane or a clip of Howard Dean screaming just before George Tenet gets to that bit, so people head into the commercial break crying for war. Ah, creative editing.

We’re supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton and John Kerry suddenly became hawks and voted to invade Iraq when in truth they simply voted to allow military force as a last ditch effort. While a policy of containment could work – and, for that matter, was working – Bush had a go at the whole wartime president thing and took the number of dead civilians from 9/11 and more than tripled it. Bush seems at his best when his constituents are distracted from real issues at hand. You know what’s more pressing than a floundering job market and disappearing Social Security? Gays getting married!

It’s downright foolish to say that Bush had nothing to gain from a war in Iraq. Those 90% approval ratings were finally waning when people started realizing that a couple of guys in turbans were not the main threat to their accustomed way of life. It’s a lot scarier to think of a guy whose administration acts with utter contempt for the rest of the world or, indeed, the truth. But, you know, nothing rallies people like good old-fashioned scare tactics. And lying about a blowjob is worse than fabricating grounds for war, right?

Patrick Gibbons can be contacted at