View Full Version : U.S., U.K. Voters Don't Care About Credibility

05-12-2005, 09:50 PM
U.S., U.K. Voters Don't Care About Credibility

Times Change, So Do Values

Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
POSTED: 11:03 am CDT May 12, 2005

Funny thing about America and Great Britain. I once thought their people cared about the credibility and accountability of their leaders, especially when it comes to war and peace. But now I note with regret that the voters in both nations have other priorities.

I'm talking about the fact that the leaders of both nations chose to invade Iraq for flimsy reasons that were deliberately drummed up to convince their people that a third-world country was a threat to them. Didn't the Brits say Saddam Hussein could attack in 45 minutes?

The historic election of Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair for a third term is a stunning affirmation that the British people no longer demand credibility from their leaders.

The false rationales for war by both George W. Bush and Blair went up in smoke without a public outcry. I know Blair returns to power with a much smaller majority in the House of Commons -- compared with his landslide victories in the past -- apparently because of British disillusionment with the war. He also is hearing post-election calls from within his own Labor Party for him to step down. Still, he was re-elected.

In the case of Bush, the ill-advised war against Iraq did not take center stage in the presidential election last November. His opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had voted for the war and delivered a coup de grace to himself by saying he would have done the same thing -- invade Iraq, even after it had become apparent to all that the pretext for the invasion (Saddam Hussein's imaginary weapons of mass destruction) was a mirage. Kerry blew it big time.

The war issue became irrelevant at that point, not that it was highlighted in any major way by the timid Democrats, who should have knocked it out of the park.

Instead, they were afraid of being accused of not supporting the troops. Nonsense. They could have kept more Americans alive -- nearly 1,600 Americans are dead now and thousands wounded -- by calling for a military withdrawal from Iraq.

The Democrats also should have rejected the Bush policy of preemptive war, which is illegal under international law.

Instead, the administration won the day by, among other things, encouraging the outrageous fabricators known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to denigrate Kerry's Vietnam War record. What a fiasco, especially when you know that none of the highly eligible Bush team went to that war. Our present commander in chief went to elaborate lengths to avoid doing so.

The record to date, by leaks and memos, is overwhelming on both Bush and Blair. For some unexplained motive, Bush obviously wanted a war and Blair wanted to be a player.

Iraq was on Bush's radar screen when he took office in 2001, perhaps even before. Books by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke, former head of counter terrorism at the White House's National Security Council, both attest to early signs -- even before 9/11 -- that war against Iraq was high on Bush's agenda.

In the run-up to the war, Vice President Dick Cheney and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice used appearances on Sunday television shows and in speeches to friendly audiences to start the drumbeat that Iraq had unconventional weapons.

Meantime, Blair was doing his share to build public support for war, even though he knew that his case was thin.

As the British reelection campaign was ending, the May 1 Sunday Times of London published a secret U.K. government memorandum discussing a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and his top security advisers. The memo said that military action against Iraq "was seen as inevitable" and that Bush wanted to remove Saddam "through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD," weapons of mass destruction. According to the Times, the memo said that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The report was not disavowed by the British government. At the time of the memo, Bush officials were insisting they had no plans to attack Iraq. I am not surprised at the duplicity. But I am astonished at the acceptance of this deception by voters in the U.S. and the U.K.

I've seen two American presidents go down the drain -- Lyndon B. Johnson on Vietnam and Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal -- because they were no longer believed.

Times change. I guess our values do, too.

Copyright 2004 by Hearst Newspapers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

05-12-2005, 09:52 PM
You Remember Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, the most senior member of the White House press corps, really socked it to Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer on Monday over the issue of Iraq. Check out the dialogue:

January 6, 2003 – 12:35 P.M. EST

MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon and happy New Year to everybody. The President began his day with an intelligence briefing, followed by an FBI briefing. Then he had a series of policy briefings. And this afternoon, the President will look forward to a Cabinet meeting where the President will discuss with members of his Cabinet his agenda for the year. The President is going to focus on economic growth, making America a more compassionate country, and providing for the security of our nation abroad and on the homefront.

And with that, I'm more than happy to take your questions. Helen.

HELEN THOMAS: At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the President deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up.

MR. FLEISCHER: I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds. And the President, as he said in his statement yesterday, deplores in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel.

MS. THOMAS: My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends --

MS. THOMAS: They're not attacking you.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- from a country --

MS. THOMAS: Have they laid the glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11 years?

MR. FLEISCHER: I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression then.

MS. THOMAS: Is this revenge, 11 years of revenge?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, I think you know very well that the President's position is that he wants to avert war, and that the President has asked the United Nations to go into Iraq to help with the purpose of averting war.

MS. THOMAS: Would the President attack innocent Iraqi lives?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President wants to make certain that he can defend our country, defend our interests, defend the region, and make certain that American lives are not lost.

MS. THOMAS: And he thinks they are a threat to us?

MR. FLEISCHER: There is no question that the President thinks that Iraq is a threat to the United States.

MS. THOMAS: The Iraqi people?

MR. FLEISCHER: The Iraqi people are represented by their government. If there was regime change, the Iraqi --

MS. THOMAS: So they will be vulnerable?

MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, the President has made it very clear that he has not dispute with the people of Iraq. That's why the American policy remains a policy of regime change. There is no question the people of Iraq --

MS. THOMAS: That's a decision for them to make, isn't it? It's their country.

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don't think that has been what history has shown.

MS. THOMAS: I think many countries don't have -- people don't have the decision -- including us.

05-12-2005, 09:56 PM
I wonder why she isn't there anymore...

05-12-2005, 09:58 PM
Her last statement is awesome.

05-12-2005, 10:05 PM
Yeah... I miss her... oh wait, that's right, they don't have Press Conferences with Dubya...

05-12-2005, 10:07 PM
What has he had, like 4 since he took office 4 and a half years ago?

Uber Commandante
05-13-2005, 08:18 AM
What has he had, like 4 since he took office 4 and a half years ago?

Somthing like that - and they are usually 'reporters' who are waiting in a bent over position with pre-lubed bung holes.

(am I joking? I don't even know. Think about this Gannon fellow - the male prostitute who was given the highest white house press credentials)

05-13-2005, 08:27 AM
Somthing like that - and they are usually 'reporters' who are waiting in a bent over position with pre-lubed bung holes.

(am I joking? I don't even know. Think about this Gannon fellow - the male prostitute who was given the highest white house press credentials)

I guess Helen wasn't willing...