Glenn Reynolds caught John McCain on Face the Nation this morning. This exchange is significant:
SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.
Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.
SCHIEFFER: And in–he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?
Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it’s a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it’s a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them–I said, `Did–were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?’ Every one of them said no.
I like the nice blunt way McCain put it. I said last week that Bush’s speech would be of little significance if he replied to his critics once and then went back to business as usual. The point has to be made over and over again, by Bush and by others on his behalf, to counter the constant repetition of “Bush lied” by the far left. Let’s hope that McCain’s vigorous defense of Bush is a sign of much more to come.
And, yes, you’re right: Schieffer’s question–“Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?”–is an outrageous mischaracterization of what Bush actually said.