Bush Campaign Lies

Friday, May 28, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #59: In 72 Hours, Kerry Flip-Flopped on Whether Bush Misled the Public About WMD 

As badly as the Bush campaign lies about Kerry, they're nothing compared to the GOP. As far back as last June, the GOP was spinning and distorting wildly in an effort to smear Kerry.

In particular, they cite two different Kerry interviews: one on June 15, 2003, in which the Republicans claim Kerry said it would be irresponsible to accuse Bush of misleading the public on WMD, and another on June 18, 2003, quoting Kerry as saying '[Bush] misled every one of us'.

As is often the case with the GOP, the actual references reveal that they're distorting things. Here is the relevant context for the June 15 quote (emphasis mine):

STEPHANOPOULOS: People are really upset that they feel misled by President Bush on this issue weapons of mass destruction. I know you said you're agnostic about whether or not he misled the public on weapons of mass destruction. But do you have a hunch on whether you think they hyped the intelligence?

KERRY: George, again, I think it would be irresponsible of me at this point to draw conclusions prior to all the evidence being on the table. What I know is we have to get that evidence. We have to have an investigation to know to a certainty whether or not it was hype, whether we were misled, whether there was a concerted effort, a clientitis(PH) between, you know, that the CIA was serving the political purposes of the administration.
Stephanopoulos never asked Kerry whether Bush misled the public. He asked Kerry whether Bush had 'hyped the intelligence'. And Kerry responds that it would be irresponsible to draw a conclusion about that.

In the June 18 article, we have to rely on Ron Fournier's interpretation of Kerry's remarks, but he makes things pretty clear (emphasis mine again):

"He misled every one of us," Kerry said. "That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States."

Kerry said Bush made his case for war based on at least two pieces of U.S. intelligence that now appear to be wrong that Iraq sought nuclear material from Africa and that Saddam's regime had aerial weapons capable of attacking the United States with biological material.


Addressing senior citizens in Hanover later in the evening, Kerry said he supported a congressional investigation because it was not clear whether Bush acted on poor, distorted or politicized intelligence.

"I don't have the answer," he said.
Here, Kerry says Bush misled the country because Bush's claims about Iraq's WMD were based on faulty evidence. And consistent with his earlier statement, Kerry doesn't not draw a conclusion about whether the intelligence was simply bad, or whether the Bush administration 'politicized' it.

If I tell you that your spouse has been cheating on you when s/he really hasn't, and you believe me and get a divorce, then it doesn't matter whether I acted maliciously or made an honest mistake. I still misled you. Those who are actually interested in understanding Kerry's position can clearly see from these statements that Kerry was reserving judgement as to whether Bush acted maliciously, but that Bush misled us nevertheless. And those who would rather play partisan 'gotcha' games will pounce on the fact that Kerry used the word 'misled' in responding to Stephanopoulos.

This Republican distortion is just the first in a long list of spin and smear on this particular RNC web page. All of the remaining anti-Kerry allegations are debunked in the previous post, in which we point out that Kerry's seeming inconsistency concerning Iraq's WMD arises from the fact that the administration was wildly inconsistent --- to the point of lying --- in its claims about Iraq's WMD.

Given how badly the administration misled the country about this, you would think Republicans would be trying to sweep it under the rug, rather than using it to attack Kerry.

8:49 AM