Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Proof Negative

Something strange seems to have occured to the Democrats recently. Over the course of the past 3 years the democrats have begun to believe that they can prove negatives. The most recent example is Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times. Since NYT archives articles and makes you pay to see them, I'll explain briefly.

In today's piece (titled Missing in Action), Kristof makes the case that President Bush did not fulfill his national guard duties 30+ years ago. You might remember this controversy from early this spring, or last fall, or the fall of 2000. Yes, this is the exact same national guard issue that has been vetted 3 times already. In all three cases, Democrats have found someone who can't remember seeing Bush on the milatary base. So three times the Republicans have trotted out people who remember seeing Bush there and serving with him. Then they pull his service records showing that he had fulfilled his obligations.

But among Democrat faithful the idea that Bush is not a lying cheat on everything cannot stand. So they have to proclaim that someone who doesn't remember seeing Bush should stand as superior testimony to someone who says he does remember seeing him. Kristof's defense of this dubious proposition is that Bush's witness screwed up his dates and Kristof's witness (if you will) was actively looking for Bush 'cause he wanted to party down.

This at least adds a veneer of rationality to what is a largely irrational position.* This irrationality extends to other areas of Democrat's thought processes although always in the defense of the proposition that Bush is evil.

Example 2: Following President Bush's claim at the State of the Union that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from an African country, Joseph Wilson spent three weeks in Niger and came home to definitavely claim that Iraq had not sought to buy uranium there. This was the genesis of the "Bush Lied" meme that Democrats have held onto with a tenacity unseen outside of Paris Hilton trying to extend her 15 minutes. How exactly, did Wilson "prove" that Iraq did not try to buy uranium? Don't ask me, and don't ask a Democrat. It doesn't matter. It just matters that they be allowed to believe that Bush is a liar.

Example 3: The most obvious example, I think, is the line that there were "no weapons of mass destruction". Here is the deal: Saddam kicked out weapons inspectors, Saddam claimed he would never give up his weapons, our intelligence says he had them, as did the intelligence services of France, Italy, England, Germany, Russia and Israel. Iraq's enemies thought he had them, as did scientists who worked on the WMD programs in Iraq before defecting to the west. In short, everybody thought he had WMD.

As of today we have not found large stockpiles of WMDs (but have found several small caches). The Democrats could tweak Bush on the fact that we have not been able to find them. But to run with the idea that their never were WMDs is crazy. How exactly do we prove that? We could just as easily say that Nicole Simpson wasn't murdered because we haven't found the killers. Again, there is nothing to this but a pathological need to attack Bush.

*As an aside, the fact that Bush's witness confused the dates actually helps his credibility with me. If he were a white house puppet, wouldn't they have coached him to get the story straight? On the other hand, saying "well it was 32 years ago so I could be a little off on the dates" seems like what I would expect.


Blogger Tolles said...

Something strange seems to have happened to Republican apologists for the Bush administration recently. They seem to believe everything Scott McClellan says.

Claims that Nick Kristof is somehow representative of Democratic thought aside, let's cut to the most exagerrated claim that three times the administration has "pull[ed] [Bush's] service records showing that he had fulfilled his obligations."


In the interest of fairness, this is much easier to debunk after today's headlines regarding the president's newly released guard records.

But you know, my recollection of Bush's guard records information more closely resembles that of the American Prosepect's, excerpted below, than of say....Max's.

"During the 2000 election season, the Bush campaign claimed that Bush had released all of his military records. That was false. Early this year, under pressure, the White House released another batch of records, claiming that it had now released all of Mr. Bush's military records. That, too, was false. Two days ago, under lawsuit from the AP, the White House released another batch of documents, claiming once again that all documents had now been released.
Yesterday, for reasons not publicly explained, the White House centralized authority over all responses to requests for Mr. Bush's military records. This seemed strange if all the records had already been released."

Couple that with new memos released today, (today being, you know, the third time "all records" were released) including, "a 1973 memo titled 'CYA' in which Killian talks about being pressured to give Bush a favorable yearly evaluation. He refuses, saying, 'I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job.'" This is hardly trying to prove a negative.

The Joe Wilson bit is flawed too, but not nearly as flawed as this misleading statement "Here is the deal: Saddam kicked out weapons inspectors...." Well, yeah. In 1998 they were kicked out. Then before this last round of fighting, those dastardly weapons inspectors were back in Iraq finding...squat in the way of weapons. But the war was about to start and they were dismissed as some sort of sign of weakness by the war supporters. Citing "smaller caches" of weapons is a stretch, to say the least. Some old rockets left over form the Iran-Iraq war (U.S. funded - both sides, but that's an aside) hardly constitute the types of weapons that were hyped. Citing these is, to me, an indication of the fundamental weakness of the pro-Iraq war position.

But the main thrust of the post is people like me don't criticize Bush for who he is, (his actions, their consequences, etc.), but because of "a pathological need." I'll admit to hating the guy's guts, but it's ten thousand dead iraqis, the raiding of the federal coffers in the name of tax reform, the creation of a foreign-policy based on blood-vengeance, etc., that fuel my hatred. Not pathology. P.S. don't fire me.

(American Prospect source if you care)

4:51 PM  
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