- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cartoon character

“Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed,” Norman Podhoretz writes in Commentary magazine.

“What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth, even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.”

Odd remarks

“Does Sen. Carl Levin believe that Saddam Hussein had nukes?” Stephen F. Hayes asks at the Weekly Standard’s Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

“Levin, the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is leading the charge against the White House for manipulating intelligence on Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda. He has been dogged and ruthless, focusing his criticism on two areas of the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq: the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program. Levin claims that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence in both areas to frighten the American public into supporting a war of choice,” Mr. Hayes said.

“Which is why Levin’s latest claim is so startling. On Monday, Levin appeared on ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ on MSNBC and made the following declaration:

“‘There was plenty of evidence that Saddam had nuclear weapons, by the way. That is not in dispute. There is plenty of evidence of that.’

“Really? I’d like to see it,’ Mr. Hayes said.

“Levin also criticized the Bush administration for deciding to remove Saddam Hussein shortly after 9/11. It is a curious charge. On December 16, 2001, in an appearance on CNN, Levin himself called for regime change in Iraq. Levin would not say whether he supported making Hussein’s Iraq the ‘next target’ after Afghanistan, but he did say this:

“‘The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as he [Saddam Hussein] is in power.’”

Media spin

“Democrats won [Tuesday’s] gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, both offices they held going into Tuesday’s voting. But journalists [yesterday] spun the results like Howard Dean, claiming voters had handed the Republicans ‘stinging defeats,’ as the New York Times hyped in a front-page subheadline,” the Media Research Center’s Rich Noyes writes at www.mrc.org

“Times reporter Robin Toner touted ‘Democratic euphoria over what was perceived as a shifting electoral tide.’ But the only actual shift [Tuesday] went against the Democrats, who lost the lieutenant governor’s office in Virginia to a Republican, state Sen. Bill Bolling.

“NBC’s Katie Couric joined the Times in seeing a repudiation of Bush: ‘Good morning. Clean sweep. Democrats win the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey. Are President Bush’s second-term troubles to blame?’ …

“Eight years ago, at the same point in Bill Clinton’s second term, Republicans maintained their control of the same governorships that were up for grabs [Tuesday]. But the media refused to make those Democratic defeats a referendum on the Democratic president. Rather than branding them as ‘stinging defeats,’ New York Times reporter Richard Berke determined the GOP victories were really a triumph for Clinton’s post-ideological approach.

“On TV, the message was the same. On the November 5, 1997, ‘Today,’ NBC’s Gwen Ifill declared everybody a winner: ‘Most voters across the country opted for more of the same once they got to their polling booths. And with the economy on a roll, more of the same appears to feel pretty good.’ …

“[Tuesday’s] vote also merely reinforced the ‘status quo,’ but the media preferred to see a repudiation of Bush,” Mr. Noyes said.

Reporter departs

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who was first lionized, then vilified by her own newspaper for her role in the CIA leak case, has retired from the Times, the paper announced yesterday.

Mrs. Miller, who joined the Times in 1977 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for reporting on global terrorism, had been negotiating with the paper for several weeks about her future, the Associated Press reports. She is 57.

She spent 85 days in jail over the summer for refusing to testify about her conversations with a confidential source.

But after her release, Mrs. Miller was criticized harshly and publicly by Times editors and writers for her actions in the CIA leak case and for her reporting during the run-up to the Iraq war indicating that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Helping ‘Scooter’

White House officials are free to contribute to a fund to help pay for the legal defense of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in the CIA leak investigation, the White House said yesterday.

“People, including White House staffers, can contribute as individuals to whatever causes they so choose. I know of no prohibition on individuals,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters when asked about Mr. Libby establishing a legal-defense fund.

Mr. Libby was charged on Oct. 28 with obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year investigation into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s identity after her husband criticized the Iraq war, Reuters news agency writes. Mr. Libby faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

Ha, ha, ha

Left-wing radio talk-show host Al Franken tells Reuters news agency that he will move to his native Minnesota in January to prepare for a U.S. Senate run in 2008, but one has to wonder if a lame and tasteless joke about the late Terri Schiavo will do much for his chances.

Mr. Franken is starting a national tour to promote his new book, “The Truth (With Jokes),” which includes this line about Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, for saying proper medical care might have helped Mrs. Schiavo as she remained in a vegetative state while politicians debated her fate.

“In other words, given proper treatment, there was no reason Terry Schiavo couldn’t live out her lifelong dream of being a Rockette,” Mr. Franken wrote.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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