Tonight, Vice-President Dick Cheney is giving a speech tonight at an event honoring former Senator Malcolm Wallop. He picks up the theme of the Democrats’ false and irresponsible criticism of the administration on Iraq:
As most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s. I know what it’s like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully. In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.
Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions. They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions that was made by this Administration and by the previous Administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions and that, in a post-9/11 world, we couldn’t afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of WMD programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, who had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder. Those are facts.
What we’re hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.
The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. We’re going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we’re going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. They and their families can be certain: That this cause is right and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable and this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.
Great stuff. I especially like: “The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.” That’s too good a line to be used only once.
It appears that the administration understands how important this battle is, and intends to wage it accordingly. The administration needs to continue delivering speeches like this on more or less an every-other-day basis for the foreseeable future. President Bush was very late to respond to the Democrats’ calumnies, and it may be too late to correct the damage that’s been done. But at least the administration is now mobilized and is fighting back. That, at least, is encouraging.