If you missed the Vice President's speech this morning, here are the money quotes:
"Several days ago, I commented briefly on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline, quote, Cheney says War Critics Dishonest, Reprehensible, end quote.
"One thing I've learned in the last five years is that when you're Vice President you're lucky if your speeches get any attention at all. But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it's important to make this point at the outset.I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the War on Terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way…
"Nor is there any problem with debating whether the
United States and our allies should have liberated Iraq in the first place. Here, as well, the differing views are very passionately and forcefully stated. But nobody is saying we should not be having this discussion or that you cannot reexamine a decision made by the President and the Congress some years ago. To the contrary, I believe it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves why this Nation took action and why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and why we have a duty to persevere.
"What is not legitimate, and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible, is the suggestion by some U.S. senators or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence. "Some of the most irresponsible comments have come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence materials. They are known to have a high opinion of their own analytical capabilities. And they were free to reach their own judgments based upon the evidence. They concluded, as the President and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat."
The principle benefit of the debate over the last week is that the Clinton "don't worry, be happy" cloak has been cast aside, and the Dems are once again gathering around the flag of George McGovern. They are the party of retreat and defeat. Which is why the VP's remarks today are so important. Let's have the debate. But let's not allow the Dems to claim falsely that they are a party that can be trusted with the defense of our nation.
To the vice president, we should say, "more, please, sir."