"Dangerous rhetoric"

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 24, 2004 7:25PM (EDT)

When House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi voiced widely-held sentiments last week, telling a newspaper that President Bush was an "incompetent leader," she rather predictably brought upon herself the wrath of Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. Calling Pelosi's candid comments "dangerous rhetoric," House Majority Leader DeLay actually said her words were "putting American lives at risk." Using DeLay's logic, below find other individuals who have carelessly put the lives of Americans at risk recently by speaking their minds:

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CentCom chief: "There has been poor strategic thinking in this. There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to 'stay the course,' the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure."

GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel: "I think you've got a president who is not schooled, educated, experienced in foreign policy in any way, versus his father."

GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee: "The president talked about being humble when he was running for office but the opposite seems to be true."

GOP Sen. Pat Roberts: "In fighting the global war against terrorism,' we need to restrain what are growing U.S. messianic instincts -- a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy -- by force, if necessary."

GOP Sen. Richard Lugar: "I am very hopeful that the president and his administration will articulate precisely what is going to happen as much as they can, day by day, as opposed to a generalization."

Conservative writer and novelist Mark Helprin: "The war has been run incompetently, with an apparently deliberate contempt for history, strategy and thought, and with too little regard for the American soldier, whose mounting casualties seem to have no effect on the boastfulness of the civilian leadership."

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol: "Well, that's right, [Bush] did drive us into a ditch."

CNN's bow-tied conservative Tucker Carlson: "I supported the war and now I feel foolish."

Former House GOP Leader Dick Armey: "We're letting the political hacks overrule the policy wonks in this town."

Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan: "It's long past time that people can be asked simply to trust the president. After the WMD intelligence debacle and the Abu Ghraib disgrace, he has run out of that capital. He has to tell us how we will win, what we are doing, how it all holds together, why the infrastructure repair is still in disarray, and how a political solution is possible. I'm not sure any more that this president has the skills or competence to pull it off. But I am sure that he has very little time to persuade us he can."

American Conservative Union vice chairman Donald Devine, who refused to join a standing ovation for President Bush at the ACU banquet last week, and called Bush's speech "long and boring."

Conservative columnist George F. Will: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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