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Dean: Bush as Nixon

Vietnam managed to consume two presidencies - Lyndon Johnson's through failure to win, and Richard Nixon's through his own paranoia. Ironically, President Nixon and General Creighton Abrams had a winning strategy, but the Left still manages to think of Vietnam as Nixon's war. That's how they want you to think of it, too.

Earlier, I posted that the Democrats seem to think they can recreate their short-lived success in 1974 by turning President Bush into President Nixon. Howard Dean's infamous radio interview with WOAI seals the deal.

First, there's the quote about troops levels. No, not the Democrats' "plan" to redeploy (remember when they ridiculed Ronald Reagan for "redeploying" troops off the coast of Lebanon?). The talk about troops killed. Reuters and even ClearChannel itself have quoted Dean as saying:

"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."

Well, not exactly. WOAI has an MP3 of the interview, and what they present as one quote is actually two with a little surgery:

I remember going through this in Vietnam, and everybody kept saying, "yeah, just another year, we're going to have a victory." Well, we didn't have a victory then, and it cost us 25,000 more American troops because people were too stubborn to be truthful about what was happening.


I've seen this before in my life, and it cost us 25,000 brave American soldiers in Vietnam and I don't want to go down that road again.

Now, when I was growing up, quotations marks actually meant that you were, well, quoting someone, as in, transcribing the words that actually came out of his mouth. Apparently, to ClearChannel or Reuters, quotation marks are an excuse to redact and comment. This conflation has caused a great deal of confusion. By starting with the beginning of the second quote, they've led most radio producers to air the second quote. When people go to the story, they think that Reuters just made up the "additional" part out of whole cloth. In the first quote, Dean does in fact say "25,000 more American troops."

But the misquote itself is still wrong. The way Reuters "quotes" Dean, he's saying that we were "too stubborn to recognize what was happening," meaning that we were misleading ourselves. In fact, Dean is quite clearly saying that Nixon then and Bush now were and are "too stubborn to tell the truth," that they are deliberately misleading us.

Then, there's the matter of where the number 25,000 came from. In fact, about 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. Dean's starting to count casualties when Nixon took office. Even then, Dean gets it wrong by 25%; about 20,000 American troops died after Johnson left office. That's true even if you put Nixon in the White House while Kerry wasn't in Cambodia collecting magic hats.

This becomes clear from Dean's answer to the first question put to him, about prewar intelligence:

What's happening now, oddly enough, there are so many parallels to the Vietnam era, it's a little scary. And we see, uh, what we see is very much like what was going on in Watergate. The Watergate burglary, for example, happened before the election but the President wasn't forced to resign until afterwards because there was so much additional information.

Turns out there's a lot of good evidence that the President didn't tell the truth, uh, when he was asking Congress to give him the power to go to war, un, and, uh, but a lot of that didn't come up until after the election was over, so I think that what the President's finding now is that now that the election is over and the sort of "he said, she said" nature of the discussion is gone that there's a whole big body of evidence that suggests that the President was not truthful with the American people and that's pretty convincing evidence and that's why it's all coming back up again now.

Are the Democrats trying to lay the groundwork for impeachment? Quite possibly. Remember, it was only the honorable actions of Republicans like Howard Baker that made Nixon's impeachment possible. By repeating, first as stray thought, then as suggestion, now as established fact, the notion that BUSH LIED!!!!!, the Democrats hope to make it impossible for Republicans to stand up and say otherwise.

By ignoring this part of Dean's comments, Reuters and ClearChannel do another service to Dean. They make it appear that the suibstance of his remarks was focused on the Democrats' evolving "plan" to take credit for Pentagon strategy. So when the White House reacts to the comments as a whole, the headline writers respond with "White House Brutally Attacks Dean's Constructive Criticism of War's Progress." It lets Dean operate under the radar, getting in punches all over the country, building a case for impeachment, but throwing the flag on the retaliation.

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