Whether it was the celebration in Congress of the Democratic takeover and the first female Speaker of the House, or the death of former president Gerald Ford, recent developments have served as cannon fodder for the accelerating media campaign to undermine President Bush in the final two years of his presidency. But it’s not just the Bush presidency which hangs in the balance. The real targets are the proposed Bush legacy of freedom and democracy for the Middle East and the Bush Doctrine of striking America’s enemies before they attack us. It appears that many in the media, especially Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann at the Bush-bashing network MSNBC, want the Democrats to succeed at the expense of a free and Democratic Iraq.
One of the most curious developments prior to the President’s January 10 speech on his plans for Iraq was the media’s handling of Gerald Ford’s passing. Washington Post Watergate reporter Bob Woodward resurrected an interview in which Ford appears to have expressed his opposition to the war in Iraq, although he had not taken that position publicly.
According to Woodward’s account, Ford said that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush had made “a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction.” He said, “I can understand the theory of wanting to free people. Whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what’s in our national interests, there comes a point where they conflict. And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.” He added that “I don’t think if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly, I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraqi war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.”
Woodward once had claimed to have conducted an interview with former CIA director Bill Casey on his death bed, when he was unable to speak. This time, Woodward had recordings of his interview with Ford. But was that really the whole picture?
According to Tom DeFrank, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Daily News, he had done the final interview with Gerald Ford in May of 2006. DeFrank was a guest on CBS’s Face the Nation on December 31 and told Bob Schieffer that he was “very surprised” by Woodward’s claims that Ford said the war wasn’t justified, and by the “tough things” Ford said about Rumsfeld and Cheney.
He said, “I had four interviews with Gerald Ford after the war in Iraq began: ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, and then May of ‘06. And in every one of those interviews, he told me he supported the war in Iraq. Now the one?the one instance where my reporting and Bob Woodward’s reporting intersects is the question of weapons of mass destruction. President Ford told me in May that he thought it was a big mistake for President Bush to have pegged the invasion of Iraq to the WMD issue. He thought that was a serious mistake. But he never said that he was opposed to the war. Quite the contrary in four different interviews.”
Schieffer asked DeFrank about Ford’s comments on Cheney and Rumsfeld. DeFrank said he was “very supportive” and “very defensive” of both of them. Yet, in the Woodward interview, Ford is critical of them and the Iraq policy. It’s very curious, to say the least. It is more curious when you consider that one of the eulogists at the National Cathedral service was none other than President George W. Bush himself. He, his father, Henry Kissinger and former NBC newsman Tom Brokaw were chosen by Ford to speak at the service.
While President Bush has indicated a desire to work with the new liberal Congress, some in the House especially seem eager to draw blood on matters ranging from the war to Hurricane Katrina. The inevitable course of action for Congress, under pressure from MSNBC, Cindy Sheehan and their ilk, is to consider impeaching the President.
Michigan Congressman John Conyers, a far-left Democrat, is set to chair the House Judiciary Committee and seems eager for impeachment hearings, in spite of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s saying that she wanted it taken off the table, at least for now.
The spark could well be the likely confrontation involving demands for White House documents from Congress. The media can be counted on to attempt to turn this into a Watergate-style constitutional crisis.
Meanwhile, Bush continues to face dissension from his own base, especially on the illegal immigration matter, but also on Iraq. Columnist and historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in support of more U.S. troops to Iraq “but only if they are going to be allowed to hunt down and kill vicious sectarians in a manner that they have not been allowed to previously.” On the other hand, Lt. Col. Oliver North, a Fox News contributor who has traveled to Iraq to meet with U.S. forces many times, opposes the build-up, arguing that Iraqi government forces have to be forced to stand up to the terrorists on their own.
But with the attention on Iraq, the increasing danger from Iran faces Bush and the rest of the world. It is Iran, which through its surrogate army Hezbollah has waged war against Israel and Lebanon, and which is doing all it can to destroy any chance for success in Iraq. Through the actions and the apocalyptic rantings of president Ahmadinejad, Iran has made clear its intentions?to continue developing nuclear weapons and to wipe Israel off the map. The regime recently hosted an international conference dedicated to denying the Holocaust while embracing the likes of David Duke and Hugo Chavez.
As if Bush isn’t facing enough problems domestically, his foreign allies are leaving the stage. British Prime Minister Tony Blair will certainly be replaced by someone much more wobbly on the issue of challenging the forces of radical Islam, particularly Iran. Blair has been a great ally in the war on radical Islam, and the current conflict in Iraq. In December, Blair wrapped up a trip to the Middle East with a speech in Dubai, which is located in Iran’s neighborhood, and singled out Iran, calling for an “alliance of moderation in the region and outside of it to defeat the extremists.” He added that “A large part of world opinion is frankly almost indifferent. It would be bizarre if it weren’t deadly serious.” He said Iran was “openly supporting terrorism in Iraq to stop a fledging democratic process…”
These are the questions not only facing Bush but every possible U.S. presidential candidate. How do they propose dealing with Iran and the forces of radical Islam? Do they believe in negotiations or regime change?
With what is looming as one of the largest presidential fields in history, a hostile Congress aiming at the President, war in the Middle East, and the world attempting to come to terms with a growing threat from radical Islam, these are perilous times.
One thing is certain: we know we can count on a media determined to make it harder to get anything constructive done.