On Iraq, What's More Disgusting: Being Lied To, Or Hearing the Truth?

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

If you read the news very carefully, you can see exactly what is going on inside the Washington debate over the Iraq War. One party is lying, and one party is telling the truth - but which ones are doing what may surprise you (or, perhaps, not).

First, the lie, otherwise known as the Innocent Bystander Fable.

In a story headlined "Democrats Retreat on War End," The Politico notes that congressional Democrats are - once again - moving towards endorsing a legislative effort to cut the most unpopular president in contemporary American history a blank check to continue the most unpopular war in contemporary American history. Within this story, comes the lie to justify it all:

"The strategic shift is certain to anger some war critics, but it reflects the reality that Democrats lack the votes to force President Bush's hand. 'We are trying to manage expectations that we can't end the war today or next week or next month,' said one Democrat involved in the discussions. 'We have to make sure everyone understands that.'" (emphasis added)

Anyone who has read the U.S. Constitution knows this is a fabrication. Congress has the power of the purse, meaning it has the ultimate veto over the war. Democrats control both chambers of Congress, meaning they have the ultimate veto over the war. If they chose not to schedule a vote to give Bush a blank check, the war would end. The whole idea that they "can't end the war" is the highest form of dishonesty. It is the Innocent Bystander Fable - the oft-repeated lie where Democrats claim they are powerless even though they control an entire branch of the government, and their public efforts to try "to make sure everyone understands" the lie as truth is just another insult in a long string of insults (the latest of which is the one where Democrats have the audacity to suddenly portray a non-binding bill by Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar that Democrats themselves had previously called "toothless" as now - without any change at all - supposedly a heroic bill that ends the war).

How about the honesty? That comes from the Republicans. Here's what a top Senate GOP leadership aide told Roll Call about the Iraq War:

"Our strategy in Iraq, in the short term, causes a lot of pain, but in the long term, prevents a lot of problems for the party." (emphasis added)

Wow. I The Republican Party is now on record admitting that even though the war is "caus[ing] a lot of pain" (ie. American casualties, Iraqi casualties will refuse to support ending, weakened American national security, etc.), it will nonetheless stonewall efforts to end the war specifically because continuing the war indefinitely "prevents a lot of problems for the party." GOP operatives may try to spin their way out of that one post facto - but no amount of spin can change such a crystal clear direct quote like that.

I can't tell what's more disgusting: Being lied to by Democrats about their supposed powerlessness, or having the GOP tell the American people the war must continue and American troops must continue getting killed, all because it is supposedly good for the Republican Party's political fortunes. What I can say is this: It is clear that less than a year after a national election that saw the American people demand an end to the war, both parties are going out of their way to continue it - because to folks in Washington, D.C., no matter how many people die, the whole tragic affair is all just a big game.

Cross-posted from Working Assets