Friday, July 23, 2004

The Final Word on Uranium From Niger? 

I have been reading a lot about this story in recent days, and I think today's Daily Howler summarizes the situation as we understand it. The big Republican "victory" in the Joe Wilson case is that, it turns out, Bush just didn't know whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger: and, apparently, it's OK to state such a fact when trying to convince people that allowing their sons and daughters to die is a good idea as long as you add the caveat "The British government has learned..."

Having said that, there's plenty of blame on the other side. Here's what the Howler has to say:
Over the last year, Wilson’s presentations have foundered on a simple fact—a fact he has never seemed able to grasp. Here it is: Joe Wilson doesn’t know if Iraq sought uranium in Africa. Two weeks ago, Lord Butler looked at the British intelligence, and he said that the intel was good on this point. What was Wilson supposed to say? He doesn’t even know what is in it!

Furious partisans will shake their fists and insist that none of this really matters. But it does really matter, in one key way. Wilson has overstated so many things that the Republican Party’s current attacks have a measure of truth to them. For example, he has persistently called Bush’s statement a “lie,” although he doesn’t know if the statement is true or false. He seemed to acknowledge that fact in his original piece, but slowly slid into overstatement.

Bush didn’t know if Iraq sought uranium. For that reason, he shouldn’t have said that he did, and he took a load of heat for his 16-word statement. But Wilson doesn’t know if Iraq sought uranium either. He is now starting to take some heat for acting as if he did.

Furious partisans will shake their fists and insist that none of this really matters. And of course, it doesn’t matter—unless you care about the truth, and unless you want Kerry to win.

This is what I love about Republicans now. When Clinton tried to cover up an affair by totally and completely honestly asking what the word "is" meant in a question (and, by the way, the meaning of the word "is" in that question was not at all clear), Republicans acted like the world had come to an end with his parsing of the English language. When Bush left himself linguistic outs as he tried to convince the country to go to war, it's fine.
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