New York Times columnist Frank Rich personifies the political left’s inability to do if-then logic, a fact on exhibit again Sunday in a column ostensibly on the controversy over embryonic stem cell research but really just another exercise in random Bush-bashing. Rich cites the notorious Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001, a month before 9/11, titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
“History,” Rich writes, “has since condemned President Bush for ignoring that intelligence.”
Now let me see if I’ve got this straight. Rich is arguing that Bush, armed with sketchy intelligence that Osama bin Laden intended to attack America, should have neutralized the threat. All right, but how? Should Bush have launched a pre-emptive, unilateral invasion of Afghanistan, where bin Laden was holed up?
As we say in the ‘hood, I’m down with that.
But of course Rich has spent the last three years condemning the President for launching a pre-emptive, unilateral invasion to neutralize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq — based not on a single memorandum on Saddam’s intentions but rather based on the consensus of CIA, FBI, Mossad, United Nations and British intelligence, based on a personal warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Saddam was planning to sponsor a terrorist attack on American interests, based on a sealed 1998 indictment of bin Laden by the Clinton Justice Department which reads in part “Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq” … and, oh, by the way, based on the fact that Saddam was already sheltering known al Qaeda terrorists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
To sum up: According to Rich, Bush is a chump for not acting on sketchy intelligence to take out Osama. But according to Rich, Bush is also a chump for acting on much-less-sketchy intelligence to take out Saddam.
Where’s the consistency?