Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 18, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

SPINNING SPINSANITY....What's up with Spinsanity? Instapundit pointed to a couple of posts this morning accusing Bush critics of playing fast and loose with the facts, so I clicked the links to see what's up.

Answer: nothing. The first post is just a shot at what they consider rhetorical excess by Molly Ivins and Jesse Jackson. Fine. We won't call the Republicans Jacobins anymore if they'll stop calling us unpatriotic, OK?

The second post is more substantive, but it's so wildly offbase as to be comical. Their complaint is about an op-ed written by Peter Zimmerman in the Washington Post last week. Zimmerman thinks Bush misled the nation about Saddam's nuclear program:

And if Mr. Bush had not held out the threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons "within months," it is doubtful that Congress would have given him a blank check.

Here's what Bush actually said:

I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], that they were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need.

Spinsanity is upset because Bush never said the exact words "within months." He said "six months away."

Are they kidding? This is like ticketing a jaywalker while someone is robbing a bank down the street. Sure, Zimmerman should have used the exact words, but the fact is that he let Bush off easy. Not only did Bush say that Saddam was mere months away from getting nuclear weapons, he also clearly implied that this was true in 1998, when the report in question was actually referring to 1991 and specifically said that as of 1998 Iraq's nuclear program appeared to be dead.

Spinsanity knows this perfectly well, since they wrote about it at the time, and they also know perfectly well that Bush never corrected his statement. In fact, his spokesmen contorted themselves practically into pretzels in an effort to avoid fessing up.

Given the fact that Zimmerman was quite correct in pointing out Bush's deceit, why would Spinsanity hang an entire article on a minor misquote that in no way misrepresents the president's actual intentions?

Get serious, guys.

Kevin Drum 9:48 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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