Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Infamous Episodes in GOP History: Bush Jokes About Missing WMDs



The Iraq War is one of the great tragedies of human history. It has cost over 1.3 million Iraqi men, women and children their lives. It has led to the deaths of over 4,700 coalition forces. It has cost at least $3 trillion. And it has completely destroyed America's moral standing in the world.

But to George W. Bush, the Iraq War is nothing more than fodder for "humor."

In one of the most jaw-droppingly offensive performances by any U.S. politician in history, Bush laughed and joked about the missing WMDs in Iraq, during his March 24, 2004 appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Bush joked about the same non-existent WMDs that represented his case for taking the nation to war with Iraq.

Recall how in the 2002-2003 build-up to the invasion of Iraq, every other word out of Bush's mouth was "WMD."

Bush and the other chickenhawk NeoCons constantly did their best to make the case that Saddam had WMDs that posed a threat to America. The NeoCons in effect used WMDs as a club to beat over the head of anyone who dared question whether the U.S. was following a wise course in invading Iraq.

We Progressives never bought Bush's case for war. We tried to point out to anyone who would listen that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We also tried to point out that Iraq was a small Third World nation with less than one-tenth of America's population, a nation with little industry.

Indeed, if Iraq did pose some sort of threat to America, we argued, then the question wasn't whether the U.S. should invade---instead it was this: exactly why isn't the Pentagon, with its trillion-dollar budgets, up to the job of protecting America? (Note that the U.S. spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined).

Indeed, many of us progressives rejected the very term, "Weapons of Mass Destruction." It was nothing more than a deliberately scary, propagandistic term, meant to frighten Americans into doing whatever the Bush/Cheney regime wanted. WMD was a term that belonged in a Marvel comic book, not in the real world.

And yet, in 2002, the corporate mainstream media obediently did Bush's bidding and worked hard to sell the upcoming Iraq War to the American people. There were a few exceptions (such as Knight Ridder's brilliant work that questioned Bush's case for war), but these were few and far between.

In short, our media failed the country---as it did so many times during Bush's eight disastrous years in office.

Which leads me to another point. If there's anything that was more chilling than Bush's "comedy" sketch, joking about the missing WMDs, it's this: the fact that the assembled media elites at the White House Correspondents Dinner were laughing heartily during Bush's performance.