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Friday, September 08, 2006


Charlie Gibson doesn't see the invisible straw man

I wrote a week ago about the "invisible straw man," George Bush's assertion that "nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack [on 9/11]." Last night Bush repeated that straw man claim in an interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, and, true to its invisible nature, Gibson looked right past (or though) it:
Charlie Gibson: I heard you say just yesterday the hardest thing I have to do is to get people to understand how Iraq is a critical part of the war on terror.

George Bush: Right.

CG: And that's the one thing that I question whether people do have any sense of, for as loathsome as he may have been, Saddam Hussein was not connected to al Qaeda, and he was not behind 9/11.

Bush: No, listen I understand that people ask, how can this be a connection between the war on terror, and uh, how can Iraq be a connection when Saddam Hussein didn't order the attacks. I understand the concern, because he didn't order the attacks. The enemy however, believes that Iraq is a part of the war on terror. Osama bin Laden has called Iraq central to the war on terror...(blather follows) [Transcript mine; you can watch the interview here, or (note added later), read the full transcript]
To Gibson's credit, although he missed the straw man, he did push Bush on his answer:
CG: But the point that I make and that many of the critics make is that it wasn't a part of the war on terror until we went in there. [Ed. note: of course this assumes that Iraq is now part of a so-called "war on terror," an assumption that Gibson should not be accepting]

Bush: Listen, I understand it's dangerous and troublesome, but I think it's very important for the American people to ask why is it that Osama bin Laden wants to drive us out of Iraq before this democracy can sustain itself...(long blathering answer which completely avoids answering Gibson's question)

CG: [Ed. note: completely ignores Bush's assertion that it is "Osama bin Laden" who wants to drive us out of Iraq, as if all evidence doesn't indicate that it's the Iraqis who not only want to drive the U.S. out of Iraq, but who form the vast majority of those trying to do so] A very good argument that you just made for what you did in Afghanistan, and what you did in working with the Pakistanis, in going after the Taliban, who were at the center of this [Ed. note: exhibiting the usual confusion (and conflation) between the Taliban and al Qaeda], but Iraq was not until we went in.

Bush: Charlie (Saddam, sponsor of terror, shooting at American planes, used weapons of mass destructions, paying for suicide bombers, big threat, world better off, blah blah). [Ed. note: Gibson gives up, no followup]

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