Readers respond to recent articles about missing WMD, toppling Bush in '04, and Andrew Sullivan on how the liberal media stole Iraqi looting.

By Salon Staff
June 14, 2003 2:17AM (UTC)
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[Read "The Real Reason We Went to War."]

Gary Kamiya's pieces on Iraq have been the most nuanced and intelligent I have read anywhere in the media. But I believe that going after Bush about the missing WMD would be disastrous for Democrats.

America eliminated a monstrous dictator; the American people feel that we fought a just war, even if it was for all the wrong reasons. From the start, progressives and liberals against the war have refused to deal squarely with the sadism of Saddam Hussein's regime. Progressives and liberals end up looking like a bunch of pacifist sissies and America-haters willing to let innocent people get tortured and murdered because they don't want to get their hands dirty.


I think a Democratic campaign that speaks truth about America's role in creating misery and anti-Americanism around the world, and that calls America to the task of waging peace as aggressively as we wage war, would resonate with Americans. But not a battle about the correctness of the war with Iraq.

-- Larry Letich

It's the same charade over and over again. Bush says "A," and Ari Fleischer later clarifies that Bush really meant "an alpha-numeric symbol that could be interpreted as being a letter close to the beginning of the alphabet, which is what the president has been saying all along."


Using Bush's spoon-fed, hyperambiguous terminology, practically anything could be construed as being "two mobile biological weapons facilities capable of producing biological agents." In fact, I have two of those in my home. They're called blenders. Mix up a fruit shake and some spoiled milk. Put it in a hot dog cart, take it to a public park, serve hundreds, and voilà, a WMD.

Is not all this backtracking and recharacterization of what Bush really meant when he said "WMD" reminiscent of Clinton's line, "That depends on what your definition of 'is' is"? But the Bush administration is different from the Clinton administration; when it lies, it lies about matters affecting the life and death of millions of people, as opposed to a disgruntled hotel employee and an intern.

Kamiya has it right: Which lie should be the impeachable offense?


-- Coulter Richardson

Your articles on the political ramifications for Bush if he lied to the American public about WMD in Iraq are extremely interesting, but I have a feeling they are far too hopeful, and I'm afraid they're preaching to the choir here on Salon. The idea that this could be a worse scandal than Watergate should be true, but I doubt it will be. I do not have enough faith in our Republican Congress to impeach Bush over this.


I'm 18, and I'm going to be voting for whoever the Democrats put up. I'd classify myself as further left toward the Green Party, but I would vote for a trained dolphin if it would get Bush out of office.

-- Mark Prokop

Good essay, as I have come to expect from Gary Kamiya. I have one important quibble, however. There is at least one Democratic candidate who is standing up and saying the "unpopular" truth about this administration and who has voted against U.S. involvement in Iraq from the beginning: Dennis Kucinich. Why isn't the press covering his strong, clear speeches denouncing this misguided administration?


It doesn't help to have sympathetic journalists like Kamiya mouth the usual put-downs of ineffectual Democrats as though they comprise one homogenous herd. More useful at this critical time would be to name and credit those Democrats (however few) who are in strong opposition to this administration and are saying so, loudly and clearly.

-- Pat Hayes

Hurray for Gary Kamiya for giving voice to the frustration so many of us feel over the appalling policies and actions of the Bush administration and the simultaneous demise of the Democratic Party.


I can only hope this article will be read in every Democratic congressional office, as well as in the offices of the DNC and the DLC -- and that it will be understood and heeded.

-- Monica Mori

[Read "Can Bush Be Toppled?"]

I want to commend you for your article "Can Bush Be Toppled?" As an unapologetic liberal/progressive, I was especially heartened by the comments made by Pat Caddell. Interesting to note that the two candidates who currently most closely reflect Pat Caddell's criteria are Kucinich and Dean, the same two candidates who lack credibility according to Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund (at least on the oh-so-important issue of national security).


It seems obvious to me that if a WSJ opinion-maker is against someone, that is exactly the person who needs to be running. Is the Democratic leadership listening?

-- Daniel Majoros

The illustration comparing Bush to Saddam was over the line. I don't mean to say it was obscene or unacceptable speech -- I mean it was way outside the boundaries of rational dialogue.

I'm a liberal and I don't like the current administration. But I was offended, because you're embarrassing me in front of the conservatives. The last thing we need in the upcoming election is to look like a bunch of irrational psychos.


Bush isn't Saddam -- he's done some good. Just not nearly enough. He's also our leader as a result of our democratic process. He's done nothing illegal, or even particularly immoral. He's just on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Unless we recognize the good things Bush has done for the country, and acknowledge that he's in office legitimately, we can't convince voters that a Democratic candidate could do just as well, and with the same legitimacy.

This type of irrational name-calling and lack of faith in the democratic process was at the root of the Clinton smear campaign. And this illustration was no better.

-- Aaron Butler


What difference does it make if the majority of the population votes for a candidate other than Bush if the electoral process is tainted? Remember the last presidential election, anyone? Medea? Sherman? Donna?! How can a discussion about the prospects for defeating Bush take place without this issue even being mentioned once?

If the Democrats want to win, their votes have to be counted, right?

-- Alexandria Mueller

Green Party leader Medea Benjamin says, "There are a lot of people who are furious with the Democratic Party and they're not acknowledging that." But Benjamin doesn't acknowledge that there are even more people furious with the Green Party -- I'm one of them, and I voted for Nader in 2000 (I traded my Massachusetts vote for a vote in Minnesota). Look where we are now.

-- William Flesch

Wow. I went to Salon today (as I do every day) and saw that incredibly tasteless picture of Bush being "toppled" as if he were Saddam. I am appalled. To equate the two is simple-minded demagoguery that shows a lack of ability and will to make a case using facts and logic rather than emotion and cheap jokes. It also turns off the very audience you are hoping to motivate to stop Bush from being reelected.

Before you write me off as one of the frighteningly rabid Bush supporters our there, let me state my liberal credentials: I am a registered Democrat; I have never and will never vote for Bush; his arrogance and lack of compunction frighten me as do his terrifying domestic policies; and I am still waiting to see the WMD. He is not, however, a murderer, a sadist, a tyrant, or, for lack of a better term, an evildoer. And (sigh) he is our president.

Shame on you for resorting to such low levels. Had a conservative magazine published a similar picture of Clinton in the same kind of manner, your authors would have been apoplectic. Salon seems to be devolving from presenting an intelligent, for the most part evenhanded analysis of the day's events to promoting a decidedly far-left leaning agenda that has seemed to join the endless parade of why-Bush-is-evil outrage-of-the-week clan, and no longer has any semblance of fairness in its stories. Throwing in Andrew Sullivan and David Horowitz does not make you evenhanded. Live up to your own high standards lest I forget why I subscribed in the first place.

-- Amy Rubin

I found this article to be, for the most part, a very balanced piece about the chances of a Democratic candidate being able to win in 2004. However, there was one issue that was given short shift by those interviewed. There should have been more discussion of the erosion of our civil rights.

I am concerned about the economy, our standing in the international community and our growing state deficits, which are further pressured by the massive tax cut. I am also, however, extremely concerned that our national security forces can now target average citizens for surveillance without good cause.

Civil liberties are of concern for all citizens, regardless of party. That's why the very conservative Republican Bob Barr has been working with the ACLU to fight the current administration's efforts to erode civil liberties. Our liberties have already been eroded to the point where, if Ashcroft gets his latest expansion of enforcement power, we could see America changed into a police state for a long time to come.

I think this issue cuts across party lines and makes Bush vulnerable in an unprecedented way. Wasn't it Patrick Henry who said, "Give me liberty or give me death"?

-- Sharon White

[Read "Idiocy of the Week," by Andrew Sullivan.]

I was just about to write an e-mail about the Iraqi museum issue when I checked in and saw Andrew Sullivan had beat me to it. Salon very much hyped this issue when it first came out, with several front page stories and interviews. In the months since, as most of the original reporting has turned out to be false, or greatly exaggerated, you haven't published any sort of retraction or update -- certainly not on the scale of your original stories on the subject.

Publishing the Sullivan piece is important, but not enough, because people can easily disregard him as the token righty. I'm not a Republican, but I do put a lot of faith in Salon's reporting. As a journalistic institution, I think you owe your readers an update on this issue.

-- Ben Rapalee

Andrew Sullivan must be getting desperate for justification when he argues that "only" 33 objects were taken from the Iraqi museum, thus proving that Rumsfeld is "almost always right." Aside from the fact that losing 33 irreplaceable items of world culture is no cause for celebration, this still doesn't change the fact that the military broke promises to protect these treasures, and revealed true U.S. intentions by only sending enough troops in to guard the Ministry of Oil.

The fact that museum employees hid items in vaults and took them home without permission to guard them against such a fate is yet another sign that few people outside of the U.S. have any faith in the promises of the Bush administration. This issue will eventually come home to roost.

Sullivan calls the war an "extraordinary military victory" -- killing thousands of Iraqi civilians and trouncing a country that had little defense and no proven WMD? The only extraordinary thing about it is that it will set the stage for unjustified acts of violence the world over.

-- Janet Kaul

Salon Staff

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