In 1999, while I worked on a background piece on Harris County, Texas, judge Robert Eckels, some Houston politicians invited me to a fund-raising reception for then governor George W. Bush.
Bush, already mentioned as a front-runner for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2000, easily won a second term as governor the year before by building a very un-Republican like coalition of Hispanics and moderates.
Bush sipped a bottle of Corona as he walked among well-to-do Texans at the outdoor event, slapping some on the back. He approached and stuck out his hand.
“I’m George Bush,” he said. The handshake, quick and limp, lacked any warmth or sincerity. The plastic smile looked phony. He moved on.
Later in the evening, I walked behind a group where Bush spoke with some of his cronies. They were talking about possible opponents for the GOP nomination. One member of the group suggested some opponents might use Bush’s less-than-sterling past against him.
“Let ’em try,” Bush said with swagger. “I’ll fucking destroy them.”
I recounted the story with my host as he drove me back to my hotel.
“That’s our governor,” he said. “Don’t let the smile fool you. He can turn on you in a second. You don’t cross George Bush.”
The corpses from George W. Bush’s political wars litter the landscape. Arizona Sen. John McCain threatened Bush’s chances for the nomination in 2000 and became cannon fodder in a Karl Rove-orchestrated smear campaign. Democrat John Kerry’s campaign disintegrated when he failed to respond to the Swift Boat veterans’ campaign of lies and innuendo funded by Bush’s cronies in Texas.
On Monday, Bush admitted to declassifying parts of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) just to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s assessment that Iraq was not, in fact, trying to obtain weapons-grade uranium from Niger – a key part of the administration’s manufactured rationale for invading Iraq.
“I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth,” Bush said during an appearance at Johns Hopkins University.
“You’re not supposed to talk about classified information, and so I declassified the document,” he said. “I thought it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches. And I felt I could do so without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence matters, and so I did.”
Like so much of what Bush says, it isn’t true.
What Bush calls “the truth” was, in fact, a lie. Ambassador Wilson was right and the raw information in the National Intelligence Estimate was wrong. Detailed analysis from the Central Intelligence Agency had already called the claim that Iraq had sought weapons grade uranium from Niger “nonsense” and urged the White House to stop using the false information.
But Bush, who has never let facts stand in the way of his political agenda, continued to use the discredited information and told Vice President Dick Cheney to launch is disinformation campaign to discredit Wilson.
That campaign ultimately led to the “outing” of Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA operative.
“After we liberated Iraq, there was questions in people’s minds about the basis on which I made statements — in other words, going into Iraq,” Bush said Monday. “And, so, I decided to declassify the NIE for a reason. . . . I thought it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches.”
Once again, the President of the United States lapses into denial.
Americans no longer have questions about why Bush said what he said or did what he did.
They know the President of the United States is a liar. He proves that just about every time he opens his mouth.