Politics & Policy

Selective Memories

The Dems remember what they want to about the road to war in Iraq.

The majority of Senate Democrats supported the war that would take down the evil tyrant Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and give his oppressed people a chance at democracy. But you would never know that by listening to many of these fair-weathered war supporters lately. You’d almost think it’s a shame poor Saddam Hussein is standing trial later this month. But the second-guessing of the White House’s reasons for going into Iraq exposes their own selective memories on prewar matters.

”There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.”

No that’s not a quote from President Bush, who the party line from Democrats in Congress would have you believe is a liar and was determined to get on with his father’s unfinished business in Iraq, facts be damned. The quote comes from West Virginia Democrat Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

On Oct. 10, 2002, Rockefeller argued on the Senate floor in favor of going to war with Iraq: “And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources–something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.”

Yet now, Rockefeller has been more recently seen accusing the White House of lying to get us into a war with Saddam Hussein. And, as Rockefeller’s statement made clear, he and others on his side of the aisle were arguing pre-emption. Even if Saddam was only working on weapons, we had to make sure he didn’t get them to use against his people, against us and our allies (most predictably Israel).

On Jan. 22, 2003, Mrs. Clinton defended her vote to go into Iraq: “I voted for the Iraqi resolution. I consider the prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein who can threaten not only his neighbors, but the stability of the region and the world, a very serious threat to the United States.”

So what? You may ask. Politicians are being politicians, you might be thinking. Now Senate Dems want to get Bush and start winning elections again (and get a Senate majority back next November)–so they’re being selective about their memories as they try to find something that works for them. It’s a politics of media convenience, changing with the cable-news-image winds. Big whoop. It’s a Washington pastime.

Well, it does matter. It matters to the men and women who are over in Iraq right now–the ones that both George Bush and the majority of the Democratic gang sent there. It matters to many families of those who have died serving in the war on terror. (Even if antiwar activist mom Cindy Sheehan gets more press time.)

A lot of the stories you see on the evening news about Iraq are pretty bad. Suicide bombings. Two thousand American soldiers dead. Many of these are completely legitimate news stories, but they are often covered with a lack of a sense and balance. For people who work day in and day out in Iraq, this is a demoralizing injustice and not an argument about who sent them to Iraq.

We have a record in Iraq, imperfect as it is, of progress. The purple-ink stained fingers of Iraqis who voted in for their own constitution last month is not a sidebar story, it’s a feature. And a milestone event in the region. For Democrats to want to pretend there was never a good reason for us to go into Iraq, and to claim there is nothing good happening there is a disservice to those who have died there and to every American who continues to serve there. Such manipulation is demoralizing to our guys and gals, to the Iraqis fighting for their future, and to every freedom-loving man and woman living under an oppressor the world over.

(c) 2005, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.


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