It's the way they've always done battle against their political enemies: First George W. Bush preps the field, then Dick Cheney is deployed to deliver the full payload. Following Bush's attack on Veterans Day against critics of his war policies, the administration opened even heavier fire Wednesday. The vice president declared that the latest accusations that the White House manipulated intelligence to launch the war are among "the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired" in Washington. He blasted Democrats as "opportunists" who are peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" for political gain while U.S. soldiers fight and die in Iraq.
The terrible irony of Cheney's words may be lost on the remaining few who believe the war is going well. Sen. John Kerry is not one of them. He fired back forcefully late Wednesday:
"It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Vice President Cheney," Kerry said in a statement. "The Vice President continues to mislead America about how we got into Iraq and what must be done to complete the still unaccomplished mission.
"My commitment to our country has been steadfast from the day I signed up to serve in the Navy through my service as a United States Senator fighting for our troops and our national security. Too often when it's been time to tell the truth to the American people, Vice President Cheney has had other priorities.
"While the Vice President engages in the politics of fear and smear, Americans want their government to honor the memory of the more than 2,000 brave Americans lost in Iraq, and they have not forgotten that Osama bin Laden remains on the loose. If the Bush White House cared as much about our troops as they do about their plummeting political fortunes, they would at last offer a clear strategy for success in Iraq and work to bring home 20,000 troops after the successful Iraqi elections. Then, and only then, would they be even beginning to offer leadership equal to our soldiers' sacrifice."