Mr. Bush Comes to Town

Speaking approximately fifteen miles from my home yesterday, President Bush said:

Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. . . . We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. . . . I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time.

Then, repeating (again and again) what has apparently become his campaign mantra, he added, “The American People are safer.”

It’s interesting to see how Bush’s rhetoric has evolved. While admitting — finally — that WMD have not been found, he continues to litter his speech with allusions to them, though they’ve now morphed into “weapons of mass murder,” and — in a turn of phrase that would have made Monicagate-era Clinton proud — they are now modified with the nebulous term, “capability.” I wish someone would ask him what “capability” means, exactly. It seems a fairly significant question.

It’s also interesting to see how the year-long build-up to war has been reduced by his speech to a choice between trusting Saddam and declaring war on him. Forgotten are the voices of a majority in the United Nations and the millions of protesters, who resisted this false dichotomy. Forgotten are the alternative methods of defending America founded on multilateral diplomacy and the investment of resources in homeland security and the war on Al Qaeda. It’s all just a little bit maddening.

I didn’t have the energy to comment on the link that I posted on Thursday, but it does seem to me to be a significant (and largely unreported) story. I’ve been critical of the war since late-2002, when it became obvious that Bush would have his “show of force” regardless of what happened at the UN or in Baghdad, but I’ve tried to avoid the pessimism that marks so much of the anti-war crowd. I want Iraq to be a better, more just nation for our intervention there. The fact that Falluja, a city of 250,000 people, is now a “safe haven” for those building bombs and blowing up our soldiers and Iraqi civilians seems to call into question Bush’s claim that we are safer for his efforts. Is this his proud legacy?