Whenever I hear President Bush tell another lie (or read that he has told another lie) I'm reminded of the Liar-in-Chief's former professor at the Harvard Business School, Yoshi Tsurumi, and his spot-on recollection of this president's punk past. According to Professor Tsurumi, Bush "showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." [Mary Jacoby, "The Dunce," Salon.com, 16 September 2004]
Tsurumi concluded: "Behind his smile and his smirkâ€¦he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy." "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion." [Ibid] In conservative Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s, such people were called "punks."
Perhaps, it's fair to say that the world would be a much better and safer place if America's mainstream news media had challenged Bush as much as Professor Tsurumi and his classmates did. Alas, it let the punk candidate slide during his first run for president, notwithstanding such smug and asinine assertions as: "I may not know where Kosovo is, but I know what I believe." Thus, alas, many Americans voted for an admitted alcoholic (and, allegedly, a former drug using) twit, who would come to believe that God spoke directly to him and wanted him to be president.
The mainstream news media also failed to challenge seriously the Bush administration's campaign of lies, which it employed to frighten witless Americans into supporting an unprovoked - and, thus, illegal, immoral -- invasion of Iraq. Specifically, the news media paid insufficient attention to an outrageous assertion by Bush that proved he was either a bald-faced liar or an extremely reckless ignoramus.
On September 7, 2002, President Bush asserted: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."
Yet, not only was there no such report, but the report actually written by the IAEA in 1998 reached precisely the opposite conclusion: "Based on all credible information available to dateâ€¦the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its programme goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material." [MSNBC.com, 7 Sept. 2002]
And although a White House official subsequently admitted that the IAEA report did not say what Bush claimed, the spokesman's own dissembling shed further light on the dishonesty driving Bush's push for war: "What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report."[Ibid] Why this entire episode failed to send red flags of suspicion flying across our entire news media remains an open question.
Yet, worse was to come. On October 2, 2002, Bush lied when he told Congressional leaders: "None of us here today desire to see a military conflict." How do we know he lied? Because in March 2003, in the moments "before he gave his national address announcing that the war had just begun, a camera caught Bush pumping his fist as though instead of initiating a war he had kicked a winning field goal or hit a home run. 'Feels good,' he said." [Paul Waldman, Fraud, 2004, p.8] Once a punk, always a punk?
In December 2003, months after the Bush administration's reckless assertions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction proved to be false, ABC's Diane Sawyer pressed Bush about justifying a war to the American public by stating "as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons." Put on the spot, Bush resorted to his punk college ways by responding: "So what's the difference?"
Two months later, Bush weaseled again. When put on the spot by Tim Russert, of Meet the Press, Bush justified his illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq by asserting: "Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and so I'm not going [sic] leave him in power and trust a madmanâ€¦He had the ability to make weapons, at the very minimum." Such a snotty and infantile excuse for sending thousands to their deaths should have persuaded even the most brain-dead of Bush supporters that he had wasted his vote on a reckless punk.
In late 2005, Bush told another lie, when attempting to justify his unconstitutional order permitting the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without obtaining the required court-approved warrants. Bush defended his directive as a "vital tool" in the war against terrorism, evidently forgetting that, in April 2004, he assured an audience in Buffalo, New York: "When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."
Bush lied again on December 14, 2005, when discussing what intelligence was available to Congress, when it voted to support his decision to invade Iraq. Bush lied when he asserted: "Some of the most irresponsible comments - about manipulated intelligence - have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence I saw and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein."
In fact, the Congressional Research Service (CSR) released a report the very next day that exposed his lie: "The President and a small number of presidentially designated cabinet-level officials, including the vice president â€¦have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive information, including intelligence sources and methods." In all, the report identified "nine key U.S. intelligence 'products' not generally shared with Congress."
And Bush lied again, on the eve of the November 2006 mid-term elections, when he said that he wanted Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to stay on until the end of his presidency. In fact, Bush already had commenced work on replacing Rumsfeld and knew he was lying when he said Rumsfeld would stay on. Bush even admitted to this deliberate deception.
Two days ago, Bush lied again. In a December 19, 2006, interview with the Washington Post , America's Liar-in-Chief was once again put on the spot. According to the Post, when he was asked to reconcile his "absolutely, we're winning" in Iraq assertion of October 25, 2006, with his new assertion, "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush "recast" his former assertion "as a prediction rather than an assessment."
Bush's Harvard classmates and Professor Tsurumi would have understood all too well: Once a punk, always a punk.
Indeed, if "once a punk, always a punk," then columnist Joseph L. Galloway is on to something when he asks: "Can nothing save this man from himself?" [See Galloway's splendid article, "Desperation in the White House," Miami Herald at http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/16250266.htm ] And, indeed, if nothing can save Bush from himself, the citizens of the United States have an obligation to remove him from office - impeach, convict, remove - before he does more damage to American and the world.
But only after first removing the thug, who has so perniciously enabled the punk.
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).