The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Thursday, September 2nd,  2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?
President Bush almost told the truth this week, to the shock and awe of attentive followers of the news.  Asked about the war on terror on NBC, he replied “I don’t think you can win it.”  Only the attentive took notice, because his statement was supplanted by more important news, such as Mr. Kerry’s windsurfing on Nantucket.  The President’s remark, however, deserves scrutiny.  His choice of pronoun apart, it’s as close to veracity as Mr. Bush gets.  Had he said “I don’t think I can win it” he’d have been guilty of the whole truth, but that’s too much to ask of the dissembler-in-chief.

His party cavorts in Madison Square Garden, dancing to raucous music and hooting and hollering their support for our men and women in uniform, even as those less fortunate citizens swelter and bleed in the Iraq inferno, even as the U.S. toll of dead and wounded reaches the eight thousand mark (7,999 according to  Demonstrating a sense of humor as refined as their sense of propriety, the fun-loving Republicans are passing around free bandages decorated with little purple hearts.  The message of the convention so far:  the war on terror is the business of America, and Mr. Bush has amply demonstrated that he is the right and only man for the job. 

That of course is far from the only lie being trumpeted at the Garden, but it’s the central one.  Leaving aside the administration’s failure to thwart the 9/11 hijackings, how is Mr. Bush doing?  He botched the pursuit of Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan after the hijackings occurred.  The use of uncommitted and uncontrollable local fighters instead of an adequate complement of our own forces allowed bin Ladin’s escape.  That blunder was converted into a disaster when the administration didn’t capitalize on the international goodwill we enjoyed at the time, failing to muster a sufficiently large international force to impose order.  Now we have a quasi-anarchic Central Asian quagmire that, though not often in the news, shows every sign of worsening by the day.  The result:  bin Ladin still at large, the Taliban re-grouping, and al Qaeda still free to pursue its murderous agenda.

Instead of trying to retrieve its errors in Afghanistan, the administration invaded and occupied Iraq. That, as neatly stated by former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke in his book,
Against All Enemies, made as much sense as an invasion of Mexico after Pearl Harbor.  Despite the incessant linking of Iraq with the war on terror by the President and his proxies, the leitmotif of the Madison Square Garden party, the bipartisan 9/11 commission put that canard out of its misery for good, concluding that there was no Iraq – al Qaeda connection then or ever.  The result:  thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, precious manpower and resources diverted from the real fight, and the greatest recruiting tool al Qaeda never invented.

Add to this sequence of pratfalls the ludicrous Department of Homeland Security, which spends more per capita protecting Wyoming’s rattlesnakes than it does the citizens of New York or Los Angeles;  the thousands of detainees arrested and held by both the Pentagon and the Justice Department, none of whom seems to have yielded much except embarrassment for the U.S.;  the pathetic inability to arrest the anthrax mailer;  and the damage our actions have done to long-standing alliances all over the world.  Finally and most direly, there’s the administration’s complete failure to reform our incompetent intelligence apparatus, leaving us as vulnerable to attack as we were on September 11th of 2001.

Mr. Bush’s record in the war on terror mirrors his business career, and consists of one appalling blunder after another.  His performance is indefensible and inexcusable;  it’s also his argument for reelection.  For Mr. Kerry to succeed him, the Democrats must make that point to the voters, and convincingly, by November.
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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