Thursday, June 16, 2005


Lying makes very strange bedfellows

The Democrats are now trying to make something out of the so-called "Downing Street Memos," which purport to show that President Bush was fixated on war with Iraq as far back as the summer of 2002, during which time he was supposedly publicly posturing that he was still hoping for a negotiated settlement. These "memos" are actually minutes of meetings between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and some of his Cabinet officers and intelligence officials.

Bush, of course, has denied that the memos show what they clearly appear to state; i.e., that Washington wanted war and was "fixing" the intelligence to make the requisite case, a case that most British officials thought was extremely thin at best.

Ordinarily, the thing for the Democrats to do would be to call upon Prime Minister Blair and ask him what the memos mean. Blair is the Labour leader, a friend of Bill Clinton, and would presumably be sympathetic to the Democrats' desire to finally get something - anything - on the heretofore untouchable Bush.


Blair is caught in a terrible bind, of his own making. Regardless of how thin the case for war may have been 3 years ago, Blair went along with it. In fact, he made the case better than Bush did! The main reason for his recent relatively narrow election victory was that the British public is pretty damn sure he lied to them about the justification for invading Iraq.

What this means is, Blair has no choice but to back Bush up and continue to lie to his people. He has to swallow hard and say that the memos don't mean what they clearly appear to. Otherwise, he's basically admitting that he lied and thousands died.

Therefore, the Democrats are shorn of their potentially most valuable ally - the man for whom the "memos" were written in the first place. At the time we need real cross-Atlantic solidarity the most, the man who should be most eager to help the Democrats has to continue to pretend that the war was justified and that no one - and most certainly not his friend and yours, and mine, George W. Bush - cooked the books to scare the American public into supporting a war that has turned out to be such a disaster. A war that Tony Blair must know has turned out to be a complete disaster, but which he can never publicly admit to be that disaster.

And so, he has to deny that the memos mean what anyone with half a working brain cell can clearly understand from a cursory examination - Bush wanted his war long before he was willing to say so out loud. For whatever reason, Blair went along with him then and cannot walk out on him now.

I'm sure it's eating him up. (At least, I hope it's eating him up.) I'm sure he'd like nothing more than to be able to hold a press conference in London and proclaim that the "memos" are 100% accurate and that George W. Bush lied in order to foment a war that America was never obligated to undertake. (Where do you think the war crimes tribunals would be held, if Blair were to speak out like that?) But he can't possibly indict Bush without jumping into the dock with him. For the sake of his future reputation, for the sake of world peace, for ths sake of his immortal soul, you wish Blair would stop lying and join forces with John Conyers. But you know he's not going to, at least not in time to help Conyers and the Democrats make any real traction with these "memos". I'm afraid that Bush will slither out of responsibility for one of his many screwups - again.

What an irony - the man who has absolutely no reason to be in favor of almost anything Bush has done turns out to be the man whose self-enforced silence will probably save the squinting little dummy.

Somewhere, Minerva weeps. Or laughs out loud. Or both.
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