06/29/2005 06:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bush Plays His 9/11 Trump Card; The Media Applauds His Trickery

For anyone watching television last night, there was a stunning moment of clarity about Iraq. Sadly, it wasn’t in Bush’s speech, but in the “analysis” afterwards. And for those wondering how we got into this mess, here’s an answer: the media continue to refuse to call the administration on its deceptions… indeed, they even praise the skill with which they are perpetrated.

Witness uber-pundit David Gergen’s dissection of Bush’s speech last night on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now. While admitting that the president’s linking of 9/11 with Iraq was a “myth” he, in the next breath, praised Bush’s masterful use of his “trump card” -- a term Gergen used no less than three times. Here’s the money exchange… and keep in mind that Gergen is considered a voice of reason in D.C.

ZAHN: Do you think the president overreached with these multiple references to 9/11, when there's been absolutely no linkage established between the actions of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, on that horrible day.

GERGEN: Well, listen, I was troubled and at times offended by the regularity of coming back to 9/11.… Having said that, even though you and I may not like it, it's my political judgment that that trump card has worked well for the president in the past. It's likely to work reasonably well here.

Stunning. Gergen knows it’s a scam. He acknowledges it but instead focuses on a chilling amoral appreciation of the fact that Bush played the scam well.

Do truth and reality mean nothing anymore? Is it all just a rhetorical contest now? Except, you know, with the consequence of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis dying every day?

It turns out that when the media abdicate their responsibility to tell it like it is -- like they and we all know it is -- and call a deception a deception, our leaders will take advantage of that and, yes, continue to deceive.

Which brings us back to Bush. So 9/11, which he mentioned, by the way, five times in his speech, is his trump card?

Here’s Wikipedia on what a trump card is:

In card games, trumps frequently figure in trick-taking games such as bridge, euchre, and spades. Trumps are cards (usually, all the cards of one particular suit) which rank above non-trump cards...

But this is not a trick-taking game. It’s war -- and a matter of life and death. And if your trump card is a universally acknowledged lie, what does that say about the deck you’re playing with?

It’s a tribute to the American people that even with the players in the Beltway bridge tournament swooning over the masterful use of trump cards, 60 percent of them have turned against the war.

And neither these numbers nor the disastrous facts on the ground are going to be changed by the president’s rhetorical sleight-of-hand.