Commenter "RM" stepped up to my challenge, and here's what he said:
With all due respect, an implication or inference is not something you can prove. All President's speeches are highly crafted to send multiple messages to broad constituencies. Different people hear different things and rarely is it unintentional.
Many people simply "heard" Bush make a connection between Iraq and 911. Were they stupid? Poor listeners? Who knows. They are voters however and the President needed them to support the war.
Evidence aside, your gut should tell you that Bush did everything in his power to build the case for war, including implying a connection to 911, and raising the specre of a nuclear attack. What exactly about Bush would make you think he would shy away from bending the facts to make his case?
I don't know why people cant just acknowledge that he manipulated the public, and THEN debate if it was necessary or not, and what the effect of that manipulation might be for American society.
The closest thing to proof of his desire to link 911 to Iraq is the assertion, "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here". As the London bombing proved, the statement is patently absurd, and even contradicts his own words that more attacks on the US are inevitable. If this is a global war then how can it have a front line?
Thanks for your input- you lay out your argument in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, and for that I commend you. Now here's where you're wrong-
Yes, Bush did everything in his power to make his case for war- if I were President, I'd have done the same thing. I would not expect any President to say, "Hey, I'm going to invade a country right now- trust me it's the right thing to do, and I'll tell you all about it later."
Of course he's going to lay out his case! And he's going to have thousands of staffers get together and form a PR campaign that essentially says "here's why we're going to war."
As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, I knew that I'd be one of the first to go over there, so I listened CAREFULLY. I'm going to say it again- not once did I hear anyone in his administration even imply that Iraq was involved in planning and/or executing the attacks on 9/11. To do so would have been absolutely absurd. Anyone who knew anything about 9/11 knew that the 19 hijackers were mostly Saudi (none Iraqi) and that it was an act of bin Laden's AQ network- I wouldn't insult anyone's intelligence to suggest otherwise, and I wouldn't expect our governement officials to do so either.
I agree with you- some people may have been "poor listeners" or just "too stupid" to grasp the literal meaning of what was said. That's their problem- if they can't pay attention or if they hear only what they want to hear, that's great- they just need to be prepared to lose any debate that they decide to engage in. If they hear Bush say "9/11" and "Iraq" in the same sentence and then conclude that he must have meant that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, then I can't help them. But when they tell me (a person who actually listened to him) that Bush said "Iraq was responsible for 9/11," I'm going to call them out every single time. I'm going to tell them that they're wrong. I'm going to ask them to show me where he said that or even implied it. And when they say "well, I can't really think of a specific time when he said it, but I know for a fact that he used '9/11' and 'Iraq' in the same sentence!" then I'm going to devaluate their argument- severely. I'm going to tell them that maybe they should listen to the whole sentence- better yet- the whole speach, before attempting to argue about what Bush said or even "really meant to say." If those people had been on the verge of a deployment, they probably would have listened a little more carefully. Last thing- I don't think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of those "poor listeners" are card-carrying Bush-bashers.
Did he bend the facts? No. He did not. I've not seen one shred of evidence to suggest that he "bent any facts"- our intelligence matched up with every intellegence agency in the world. He did, however, present a lot of reasons (some turned out to be better than others) for going to war. Is this manipulation? I suppose you could call it that. I'd call it "doing his job."
Here's where you're right-
I think you were alluding to this debate:
"If Bush did lie/cheat/steal in order sway public opinion in support of this war, why does that automatically have to be a bad thing?"
I agree with you 100%- this is an excellent topic for debate. It brings up a ton of points to consider. Here's just a few...
1) Is political correctness a factor? You know- in the sense that we can't just come out and say "Hey we need to transform the middle east before that place becomes infested with Islamic fundementalists." Iraq would be the logical first step because Saddam is hated and despised by the vast majority of his constituents for obvious reasons (he kills them a lot, etc.), and so we build our case for going in without ticking off the entire Muslim world...
2) Does this mean it's okay for our government to lie to us? If it's in our best interest? For the sake of national security? Certainly it's been done before, right? Are there times when we have to act on a certain geopolitical agenda, even though it would outrage our overly-politically correct culture (especially the "poor listeners" who really just can't seem to get a handle on things)?
Just a few questions that can be debated until the end of time.
I agree with you about the "we fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here" stuff, but I think you read a little too much into it. I don't see anything in that statement that suggests Iraq was responsible for 9/11. I think it's pretty obvious that he's making the point that there are terrorists over there who are fighting like hell to keep Iraq from becoming a free society- and it's better that they are engaged in that fight instead of planning and executing attacks on US soil.
I don't like the way he phrases that statement, because it implies that it's "OK" for terrorists to be raising hell in some other country- as long as they're not in our back yard. It's sort of a selfish way of putting it. I can tell you that the Iraqi people (whom we are there to help) would rather we be fighting those terrorists in Iowa instead of Baghdad and Mosul, and I certainly don't blame them. But most of them accept that it's a battle between good and evil that needs to be fought and won by the good guys (the good guys being us and the Iraqi Security Forces).
I believe that we will prevail in Iraq- and when we do, the Iraqis will begin to enjoy life again. The entire middle east will follow them towards the path of freedom, and the world will be a better place. And I'll just be glad to have been a part of it...