Uhh...Duh-​​bya is so clearly out of ideas that it’s obvi­ous he never actu­ally had any.

From the moment he was told that two planes had hit the WTC, he only seemed to have one thought on his tiny lit­tle brain. Iraq. I can blame Iraq for this!

Well, he might not have thought of it in quite that way. I sus­pect it was more like, Gee, I guess I should have paid more atten­tion to that brief­ing in August, and maybe those Clinton folks had it right — and I bet some­how Iraq was involved too.

See, despite my loathing for Bush, which is gen­uine, I still don’t want to believe the absolute worst of him.*

(This is a cour­tesy I do not extend to Dick or Rummy, both of whom I believe to be cyn­i­cal and vile manip­u­la­tors of pub­lic will. I sim­ply don’t believe Bush is bright enough for that level of scheming.)

Before Il Duce’s address last night — which I could not watch owing to utter, seething revul­sion, but got via tran­script from the Washington Post — Keith Olbermann had a com­ment to make as his show, Countdown, wrapped up for the night. Speaking before the back­drop of the WTC’s foun­da­tions, he had this to offer, in part:

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into sup­port­ing a war, on the false premise that it had ‘some­thing to do’ with 9/​11 is “lying by implication.”

The impo­lite phrase is “impeach­able offense.”

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume respon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ures that led to this empty space, and to this, the cur­rent, cur­dled, ver­sion of our beloved country.

For the record, I think Olbermann’s show is prob­a­bly the best god­damned news digest in the his­tory of the genre. Go to the link and read the entire com­men­tary — it ran nearly ten min­utes — as it’s absolutely worth it.

Disgust aside, I think it’s impor­tant to look at Bush’s lat­est dia­tribe and see if there’s any­thing sal­vage­able in there, or at least wor­thy of rebut­tal. Turns out there is, and it shows how entrenched cer­tain ideas are in Bush’s mind, how dan­ger­ous it is to hand the reins over to an unin­tel­li­gent “pres­i­dent” and a non-​​opposition Congress com­mit­ted to giv­ing him carte blanche for half a decade. All excerpts fol­low­ing come from the Post’s transcript.

On this solemn night, I have asked for some of your time to dis­cuss the nature of the threat still before us, what we are doing to pro­tect our nation, and the build­ing of a more hope­ful Middle East that holds the key to peace for America and the world.

There’s already a dan­ger­ous con­fla­tion here — and a com­plete glossing-​​over of the abysmal fail­ure in Afghanistan, the nation we attacked, the nation we reduced to rub­ble, the nation we then ignored in Bush’s drive toward Baghdad.

We have learned that they form a global net­work of extrem­ists who are dri­ven by a per­verted vision of Islam: a total­i­tar­ian ide­ol­ogy that hates free­dom, rejects tol­er­ance and despises all dissent.

Okay, while this is largely true, I should point out here that in the last three weeks, both Dick and Rummy have gone on record say­ing they too, in essence, “reject tol­er­ance and despise all dis­sent”. (Largely true in that it’s not a total­i­tar­ian ide­ol­ogy — it’s a total­i­tar­ian reli­gious ide­ol­ogy; but call­ing it that also leaves right-​​wing fun­da­men­tal­ist Christian wackos open to sim­i­lar label­ing, and Bush can’t afford to lose any more of that vot­ing bloc than he already has.)

America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extrem­ists emerge victorious.

Then it will never be over. The only way “we” will emerge “vic­to­ri­ous” is by the erad­i­ca­tion of all fun­da­men­tal­ist reli­gion, which is not pos­si­ble, because the reli­gion itself is an expres­sion of human nature. The only way to get rid of extrem­ism is to get rid of a part of our own humanity.

Or at least that would be the case, if naked aggres­sion were the only pos­si­ble response to naked aggres­sion. I’m not sure what the response could be at this point to the Islamic extrem­ists any more than the response to Christian extrem­ists, but I’m fairly sure that the best way to com­bat a meme is with another meme. Ideological inoc­u­la­tion, in other words, to fight off a kind of infec­tion of the psy­che that is not, strictly speak­ing, a men­tal ill­ness, but that behaves a lot like one.

But for that to hap­pen, we need to present olive branches and open hands, not war and inva­sion. The only way to claim the eth­i­cal high ground is to actu­ally occupy it.

We don’t.

If we do not defeat these ene­mies now, we will leave our chil­dren to face a Middle East over­run by ter­ror­ist states and rad­i­cal dic­ta­tors armed with nuclear weapons.

This may be true. Whether or not it is, the cur­rent approach is the wrong one. We should stage a scaled with­drawal from Iraq and high­tail it over to Afghanistan now, sta­bi­liz­ing it entirely before it slides into an Iraq-​​like state of chaos.

In other words, much of the cur­rrent insta­bil­ity in the Middle East that Bush decries was brought about by our own actions in the last five years. Can any­one seri­ously imag­ine that if we “stay the course” — that if we don’t adjust strat­egy at all — things will get bet­ter?

On September the 11th, we resolved that we would go on the offense against our ene­mies and we would not dis­tin­guish between the ter­ror­ists and those who har­bor or sup­port them.

This is lay­ing the ground­work for the whammy, again tying Iraq to the WTC and Pentagon attacks — falsely, as every­one but the White House knows now.

So we helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.

And then left Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban.

I am often asked why we’re in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not respon­si­ble for the 9/​11 attacks. The answer is that the régime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat.

To what or whom, he never says. This strikes me as being a sig­nif­i­cant omission.

The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.

This is sim­ply, clearly, demon­stra­bly, prov­ably, ver­i­fi­ably utterly wrong. If the sub­ject weren’t so grim, it would be a real howler.

Whatever mis­takes have been made in Iraq, the worst mis­take would be to think that if we pulled out, the ter­ror­ists would leave us alone.

“The ter­ror­ists” have noth­ing to do with Iraq. Nothing at all. Whatever we do in Iraq, stay or go, the mis­take is in assum­ing “the ter­ror­ists” will in any way be affected. Bush him­self said ear­lier that Islamic extrem­ists are essen­tially state­less. So how can he then assert that our actions in a nation that never was affil­i­ated with the Qaeda are somhow going to affect the Qaeda?

If we con­tinue our actions in Iraq as we have, it would be a mis­take to think that “the ter­ror­ists” will leave us alone.

Furthermore, with­drawal of our forces from Iraq doesn’t mean we want “the ter­ror­ists” to “leave us alone”. It means we want our boys and girls out of a con­flict that doesn’t belong to them in the first place, so we can honor their loy­alty and ser­vice, so we can have reserves in place to deal with gen­uine threats to national security.

Conflation of sen­si­ble with­drawal with cow­ardice is every bit as filthy as con­fla­tion of Iraq with terrorism.

The safety of America depends on the out­come of the bat­tle in the streets of Baghdad.

This is not only wrong, but it’s unjus­ti­fi­able and unsup­port­able in any way at all. Bush appears to be aware of this, because he doesn’t offer any sup­port for or defense of this state­ment. He sim­ply makes it, assum­ing that because he said it, we’ll believe it, and that set­tles it.

Every one of our troops is a vol­un­teer. And since the attacks of September the 11th, more than 1.6 mil­lion Americans have stepped for­ward to put on our nation’s uniform.

Many of whom are won­der­ing why, now, given the obvi­ous stu­pid­ity of the admin­is­tra­tion. And it’s almost cer­tain that, if things con­tinue as they have been, the claim of an all-​​volunteer army will soon lie on the rubbish-​​heap of history.

We have cre­ated the Department of Homeland Security; we have torn down the wall that kept law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence from shar­ing infor­ma­tion; we have tight­ened secu­rity at our air­ports and sea­ports and bor­ders; and we’ve cre­ated new pro­grams to mon­i­tor enemy bank records and phone calls.

The DHS is a joke, inca­pable of han­dling even pre­dicted nat­ural dis­as­ters; the “wall” George refers to is actu­ally the “wall” used to keep law enforce­ment from trans­form­ing into KGB-​​style state police; there is no secu­rity at our bor­ders, as mil­lions of ille­gal immi­grants know; air­port secu­rity screen­ing is rec­og­nized as a joke by the screen­ers as much as it is by the pas­sen­gers; sea­port secu­rity is a well-​​documented sham; and the pro­grams being used to “mon­i­tor enemy bank records and phone calls” are unconstitutional.

Thanks to the hard work of our law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als, we have bro­ken up ter­ror­ist cells in our midst and saved American lives.

Again, not a scrap of evi­dence to sup­port this claim.

In the first days after the 9/​11 attacks, I promised to use every ele­ment of national power to fight the ter­ror­ists wher­ever we find them. One of the strongest weapons in our arse­nal is the power of free­dom. The ter­ror­ists fear free­dom as much as they do our firepower.

By this logic, Dick and Rummy are terrorists.

The speech winds down a lit­tle, even­tu­ally drop­ping into reli­gious blather about Americans pray­ing, but he does hap­pen to drop one or two more jew­els into the swill, as it were, so I’ll leave off with this:

Our nation has endured tri­als, and we face a dif­fi­cult road ahead. Winning this war will require the deter­mined efforts of a uni­fied country.

I agree. That’s why I hope the coun­try uni­fies in November and cre­ates the oppo­si­tion Congress we’ve needed for half a decade.

And then we start look­ing into Olbermann’s asser­tions about impeach­able offenses.

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* Of course, I could be mis­un­der­es­ti­mat­ing him.

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