E.J. Dionne Is Lying

Check out this howler from the increasingly-unhinged E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

He doesn’t want us to remember that he injected the war debate into the 2002 midterm election campaign for partisan purposes, and he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he used the post-Sept. 11 mood to do all he could to intimidate Democrats from raising questions more of them should have raised.

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

Now, almost none of this is remotely accurate. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the summer of 2002! Here’s then-Senator and then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle, speaking on July 31, 2002, a full two and a half months before a resolution came up for a vote in Congress, and long before the mid-term elections:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, agreed. “It would be a big mistake for the administration to act without Congress and without its involvement,” he said.

“I think there has to be a debate; there has to be some good discussion,” Daschle said. “There has to be some opportunity for the people to be heard. … Congress needs to be equal and full partners in this discussion, and ultimately in the decision.”

Daschle spent most of the summer of 2002 demanding a Congressional vote on the use of force in Iraq. This was simple pandering to the pacifistic core of the Liberal base, and politically idiotic during a national election year, but Dionne can hardly blame Bush for Daschle’s incompetence (well, he can, but the complaint doesn’t make any sense). When Bush agreed early in the fall that yes, Congress should vote on going to war and Daschle finally realized the political consequences of getting what he’d been asking for for months, he nearly had a stroke. The vote, on October 11, 2002 was 77-23, and Daschle was among those voting in favor, saying:

[T]he threat of Iraq’s weapons programs “may not be imminent. But it is real. It is growing. And it cannot be ignored.”

To further jog Dionne’s Bush-Derangement-Syndrome-addled memory, here’s a bit of good sense from that noted member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, David Corn of The Nation, written a couple of weeks before the congressional vote on Iraq:

The GOP is perfectly within its rights to urge voters to back Republican candidates who support Bush and his war on terrorism and his war on Iraq to come, and to claim that these are the most important questions facing the United States. It is up to the Democrats, if they so desire, to present a different case. That is the essence of politics. The Democrats can argue they care about national security and domestic matters. They can champion a different definition of “national security” than that embraced by the Republicans. They can assert Bush is using a justified or unjustified war to divert attention from the in-the-dumps economy. Democrats who oppose the war can try to persuade voters they know better. That is what an election is about.

War should not be beyond politics. When Karl Rove, Bush’s master political strategist, earlier in the year was caught suggesting Republicans could gain from the war on terrorism, Democrats howled. But he was really only saying GOPers should position themselves close to a popular President and a popular war, and let the voters decide. When a computer disc containing a GOP briefing that advised Republican candidates to focus on war was found on a street, Democrats again complained about politicization. But this is not politicization. Perhaps exploitation. It also is what every politician does: emphasize the issue that provides a perceived advantage. But a crucial component of a campaign is debating what topics deserve focus.

There is nothing underhanded about defining an election as one between a party in sync with a president and a war (or two) and a party opposed to a president and filled with some who support those wars and some who do not. The Democrats are upset because, split as they are, they do not believe they benefit from such a comparison.

Just so. And that’s also why Dionne and others on the Left are in a hissy fit right now. Apparently, it was completely fair to attack Bush for doing things he didn’t actually do–but it’s entirely unfair for Bush to counter by talking about what Democrats actually said in 2002, and are actually doing now.

E.J., get some therapy. You aren’t doing yourself or your side any favors by printing this kind of dishonest tripe.