Bush, McCain, Rice and Romney Fail 21st Century History Test
No doubt, history will not be kind to George W Bush. And to be sure, Bush is already returning the favor. Apparently stunned by the Russian assault on Georgia, President Bush forgot his invasion of "sovereign" Iraq and declared, "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century". As it turns out, John McCain, Condoleezza Rice and Mitt Romney all failed the same test on 21st century history.
While unwilling to acknowledge that he had misread Vladimir Putin's soul back in 2001, President Bush on August 11th issued a tough statement about Moscow's massive retaliation against Tbilisi:
"It now appears that an effort may be underway to depose Russia's duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."
While Bush misspoke in describing "Russia's duly elected government," his point about a nation threatening a democracy was a none-too-thinly veiled effort to distinguish Moscow's invasion of Georgia from his own in Iraq.
For her part, Secretary of State Condi Rice didn't even bother with that feeble distinction. Rice, who in a replay of her pre-9/11 failure apparently missed the memo "Putin Determined to Strike in Georgia," also selectively edited the Iraq war out of the 21st century. On August 18th, she said:
"But I just want to emphasize again, Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used, that will make it - that - when it wishes to deliver a message, and that's its military power. That's not the way to deal in the 21st century."
"In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations."
That's McCain's selective amnesia would extend to the Iraq war is unsurprising. He wasn't merely wrong at almost every turn in the run-up to and the occupation of Iraq, he also happened to be one the war's biggest cheerleaders. Quick to cite the September 2001 anthrax attacks as a potential pretext to attack Saddam, in January 2002 McCain simply exhorted Americans, "next up, Baghdad!"
Then there's Mitt Romney. Rumored to top John McCain's list of potential running mates, Romney told right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt that Russia's assault on Georgia should cost it the 2014 Olympic Games:
"Well, Hugh, my own view is as the Caucuses are a hot spot, and as Russians have shown their willingness to act militarily against a sovereign nation, that the International Olympic Committee ought to revisit locating the Games elsewhere."
(Romney's willingness to parrot John McCain's talking points as part of his transparent effort to join the ticket borders on the comic. When Romney endorsed the Arizona Senator in February, he signaled his desire to follow John McCain follow Osama Bin Laden to the "gates of hell.")
With the leading lights of the Republican Party having failed 21st Century History 101, the task was left to the ever-excreable Dick Morris to explain it away on Fox News. Appearing on Hannity and Colmes, Morris comically argued that the American invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq came at the request of a democratically-elected government in Baghdad. Attacking Barack Obama's self-evident message to the Russians that "it helps if we are leading by example," Morris argued:
"Where he's wrong is that we went into Iraq at the invitation of the government, not as an invasion."
"We're in Iraq as the result of a democracy asking for us to come in there. It's not an invasion."
And so it goes. The best and brightest of the GOP fundamentally misrepresent recent history, yet theirs is labeled the party of national security. And John McCain, the man who repeatedly failed the commander-in-chief test on Iraq, gets glowing grades from the media just the same.