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Sunday, July 23, 2006

'We were right'



To my dying day, one of the things I will always be most proud of is that I did not stay with my party, right or wrong. I put the interests of my country above those of my political party. I had enough sense to see the country was headed the wrong way and I tried to make a difference.

I am not alone. And to all of us who were right, we ought to be proud.

We shouldn't be proud because things went poorly, as we feared and suspected. We should be proud that we tried to get people to change direction even when it was most unpopular. We tried to make a difference in even the darkest hour. And for our efforts we received nothing but disdain for so long. But now we're receiving something else - apologies.

Here's an apology from a conservative talk show host that was a long time coming:

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CONTINUED...


By Doug McIntyre
Host, McIntyre in the Morning
Talk Radio 790 KABC

I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he's the worst President, period.

I believed the President when he said we were going to hunt down Bin Laden and all those responsible for the 9-11 murders. I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them.

I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan, after all, that's where the Taliban was, that's where al-Qaida trained the killers, that's where Bin Laden was.

And I cheered when we quickly toppled the Taliban government, but winced when we let Bin Laden escape from Tora-Bora.

Then, the talk turned to Iraq and I winced again.

I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, "The Project for the New American Century." It's been around since '92, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, "Democratizing the Middle East" and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, "pre-emptive war." Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous.

But the President shifted the argument to WMDs and the urgent threat of Iraq getting atomic weapons. The debate turned to Saddam passing nukes on to terror groups. After 9-11, the risk was too great. As the President said, "The next smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud." At least that's what I thought at the time.

But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th.

I have watched the President say the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war won't be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can't do on the ground and any commander who did not go along with the administration was sacked, and in some cases, maligned.

I watched and tried to justify the looting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I watched and tried to justify the dismantling of the entire Iraqi army. I tired to explain the complexities of building a functional new Iraqi army. I urged patience when no WMDs were found. Then the Vice President told us we were in the "waning days of the insurgency." And I started wincing again. The President says we have to stay the course but what if it's the wrong course?

It was the wrong course. All of it was wrong. We are not on the road to victory. We're about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear armed Iran in our wake. Bali was bombed. Madrid was bombed. London was bombed. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It's unspeakable. The liberal media didn't create this reality, bad policy did.

After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I've reached the conclusion he's either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both.

Presidential failures. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Warren Harding--- the competition is fierce for the worst of the worst. Still, the damage this President has done is enormous. It will take decades to undo, and that's assuming we do everything right from now on. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments.

And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let's talk for a minute about President Bush's domestic record. Yes, he cut taxes. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public's money. We're drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren's credit cards. Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?

Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. He lied to the country about its true cost. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry. It helps nobody except the multinationals that lobbied for it. So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, or environmental protection, and/or worker's rights.

Katrina, Harriet Myers, The Dubai Port Deal, skyrocketing gas prices, shrinking wages for working people, staggering debt, astronomical foreign debt, outsourcing, open borders, contempt for the opinion of the American people, the war on science, media manipulation, faith based initiatives, a cavalier attitude toward fundamental freedoms-- this President has run the most arrogant and out-of-touch administration in my lifetime, perhaps, in any American's lifetime.

It may be decades before we have the full picture of how paranoid and contemptuous this administration has been. And I am open to the possibility that I'm all wet about everything I've just said. But I'm putting it out there, because I have to call it as I see it, and this is how I see it today. I don't say any of this lightly. I've thought about this for months and months. But eventually, the weight of evidence takes on a gravitational force of its own.

I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don't believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we're on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and its rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.

So, accept my apology for allowing partisanship to blind me to an obvious truth; our President is incapable of the tasks he is charged with. I almost feel sorry for him. He is clearly in over his head. Yet, he doesn't generate the sympathy Warren Harding earned. Harding, a spectacular mediocrity, had the self-knowledge to tell any and all he shouldn't be President. George W. Bush continues to act the part, but at this point who is buying the act?

Does this make me a waffler? A flip-flopper? Maybe, although I prefer to call it realism. And, for those of you who never supported Bush, its also fair to accuse me of kicking Bush while he's down. After all, you were kicking him while he was up.

You were right, I was wrong.
Read full apology here.

A lot of credit has to be given to McIntyre because no matter how late, it takes a big man to say he was wrong. I know a very small man in Connecticut who still hasn't be an able to say this. If even the right wing hosts realize what a grave error they've made in supporting this president, isn't it fair to ask that at least all of our Democratic Senators do likewise?

It's not just Lieberman either. I still haven't heard anything this clear or resounding from Hillary Clinton, the theoretical front runner to be the leader of the Democratic Party. That's embarrassing. Will Hannity and Limbaugh beat Hillary and Lieberman to apologies for supporting the president on Iraq?

Charles Barkley has it right. "I was a Republican ... until they lost their minds."

I used to call myself a Rockefeller Republican. Then, when I stopped being a Republican (the day we invaded Iraq), I started calling myself a Jeffords Republican (the Vermont Senator who had the wisdom and the courage to leave the party in 2001). But now I might start calling myself a Barkley Republican - the kind who left the party when they lost their minds.

But pointing out how right the opponents of the war were isn't just an exercise in self-puffery. There are important consequences for future decisions. For example, one of the main reasons we warned against the Iraqi invasion on The Young Turks was because of the precedent we would be setting. Something almost no one talks about to this day.

It was a terrible precedent to set to say that first strikes without a legal basis are acceptable (it was also the exact opposite of George H.W. Bush's New World Order precedent -- which was a bold and brilliant foreign policy effort and one of the reasons I was a Republican in the first place). Following international law is the kind of thing conservatives can deride as asking for a permission slip from the UN. Yes, you neanderthals, we do need approval from the rest of the world, otherwise we become international outlaws - and encourage others do the same.

So, what did Israel learn from our experience? When in doubt, invade. Don't ask for permission. Don't listen to the rest of the world (or common sense), just push the button.

Now, we learn that Turkey is threatening to invade northern Iraq to fight against Kurdish rebels that have killed 15 Turkish security forces in southern Turkey. Now what are we supposed to say to them? All of sudden, preemptive strikes are a bad idea? We don't like it when you do first strikes?

How about if Pakistan decides it too needs a first strike? How about China against Taiwan? North Korea against South Korea?

This is why we need international law -- and order. Instead, we have sown chaos throughout the world and now we reap the whirlwind.

So, now when we say don't let Israel invade Lebanon, will you listen? It will only cause further chaos. Israel will run into the same buzzsaw in southern Lebanon that we ran into Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit. It won't help Israel. It will only push Lebanon further towards the extremists. It will do great damage to our reputation, and possibly to our troops in Iraq. And it will cause the world to cycle further towards violence, war and mayhem.

Don't attack Iran. Work towards separating Iraq into three distinct areas, give them all a high degree of independence and provide incentives for them to share the oil revenue. Look to disengage our troops from where the local populations do not support them. Direct our forces towards the actual people who attacked us - Al Qaeda. Fight against the culture of fundamentalism through persuasion, free markets and education. And win the hearts and minds of the Middle East, so we don't have to fight their arms and bombs.

Will they listen now or will we get another apology note in three years? If we do, that one might be written from the front lines of the third world war. And a president will say, "No one could have anticipated this."

I am proud to be among you, who knew better, who did anticipate this, who did sound the warning sirens and who now still fight for a better America and a safer world.

The Young Turks

Copyright 2006 © HuffingtonPost.com, LLC

Source: The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/we-were-right_b_25615.html

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