George W. Bush believes in the Easter Bunny–that is, those weapons of mass destruction. At his recent press conference, during which he appeared unable to connect to reality on this matter or the unfolding situation in Iraq, he declared, “I’m of the belief that we’ll find out the truth on the weapons…. They could still be there. They could be hidden.” Technically, he’s correct; they could be. But it was as if Bush had missed all the statements of former weapons hunter David Kay, who said that the reason no WMDs have been located is that Iraq in recent years no longer had the capability to make such weapons on a significant scale. Still, Bush keeps talking about the weapons as if they exist.
His ability to hold tight to an alternative reality in the face of contrary evidence was repeatedly on display. He once more baselessly depicted Saddam Hussein as an “ally” of the 9/11 terrorists as he continued to conflate the war in Iraq with that against Al Qaeda. He insisted that Iraq had been a “gathering threat” without explaining what exactly had been “gathering.” As Bush noted, Saddam used chemical weapons two decades ago (while being courted by the Reagan/Bush Administration) and supported “terrorists” (who targeted Israel). But how had that made him a “direct threat” to the United States? Bush didn’t say. In defending his decision to invade Iraq, he said the war had been fought in part to enhance the credibility of the United Nations: “The war on terror had changed the calculation. We needed to work with people. People needed to come together.” Huh?
Bush refused to acknowledge any errors or miscalculations before or after the invasion. Nor did he have a good answer–or any answer–as to what entity in Iraq the United States will hand governing power to on June 30 or what he sees as a US exit strategy. He dismissed the recent rise in violent opposition to the US occupation and stuck to stay-the-course rhetoric. And he dismissed critics of his policies as racists: “Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don’t believe Iraq can be free; that if you’re Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can’t be self-governing or free.” Is that really what’s motivating his opponents who charge he lied the country to war and had no good idea of what to do with Iraq once he had it? At the end of the questioning, Bush commented, “One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it.” Even if–or especially if–it has no basis in reality.