Americans of all political persuasions have turned to Donald Trump because he tells the truth. He cuts through the lies and fairy tales that a pathetic administration regularly fabricates to disguise its failures and that a national media, quivering like jelly at every move of their idol, Obama, repeats with predictable regularity.
Until the last debate in South Carolina.
That’s when Trump repeated one of the biggest lies the national media has fabricated in recent history, that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
And Trump didn’t just let it slip. He hammered it home, he beat it like a tin drum, he whipped it like horse long after it had rolled over dead and the vultures had picked the flesh from its bones.
That, of course is Trump’s style, and until now it has been wildly successful. “Caught” by the media for saying something outrageous, he turns their “gotcha” moment in his favor by doubling down, deriding them and repeating whatever politically incorrect statement had triggered the radar of the Thought Police in the first place.
But South Carolineans pride themselves on knowing the truth, on not falling for the lies of the liberal media. I know: some ten generations of my ancestors are buried there, most of them in or around Aiken. It’s a tough place to be a liberal, by God.
And there was Donald Trump, repeating the liberal lies about Iraq. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none,” he said.
Bush lied, people died!
For someone who is a master marketer, he voluntarily eroded his brand, possibly by calculating that in South Carolina’s open primary he would win more cross-over Democrats than he would lose Republicans.
By all accounts, that calculation succeeded, and got Jeb Bush to “suspend” his campaign, to boot.
I fully expect that Trump will run the table on Super Tuesday. And Trump arguably has made many fewer mistakes than his GOP rivals.
But this one is potentially so damaging to his brand as a truth-teller, that he has already backed away from it. His line from now on should be: the media lied, and I didn’t cross-examine them. Now I will.
Donald Trump does not own the media lies. But he can own the war-weariness of the American people after 15 years of seemingly endless war with little to show for our blood and treasure.
For the record, and very briefly, here’s what happened.
At the time U.S. and allied forces went into Iraq on March 20, 2003, Saddam Hussein was actively destroying ballistic missiles under the eyes of international arms inspectors, missiles he never declared having built.
The intelligence communities of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel and others had been reporting on Saddam Hussein’s efforts to secretly rebuild his WMD capabilities for many years.
He had imported hundreds of tons of chemical weapons precursors and had stockpiled them. He had imported biological weapons agents and had stockpiled them. And he still had stockpiles of nuclear weapons material.
In the months leading up to the war, U.S. spy satellites tracked multiple convoys of trucks loading up equipment at known WMD facilities in Iraq and heading into Syria. How do we know this? Because the man who was then in charge of the agency controlling the spy satellites, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, said so. That same person, by the way, is now Director of National Intelligence.
Recently, those weapons, which the media says never existed, have started turning up in the hands of ISIS in Syria. Why is that? Because ISIS is run by former Baathist army and intelligence officers who know where they hid the weapons a decade earlier.
More detailed versions of how this came about are here, and here. Thank goodness the Iraqi government asked the United States to cart away 500 tons of uranium the media claims never existed in 2008. Without that help, we would now be facing an ISIS nuclear weapon, not just a dirty bomb.
And here’s the other dirty secret about the Iraq war: George W. Bush’s plan to liberate Iraq and get out were sabotaged by his own appointee, with Obama finishing off the job.
Going into the war, Bush tasked his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to come up with a strategy for defeating Saddam Hussein and destroying his WMD production capabilities.
While Rumsfeld asked his Joint Chiefs to develop a military plan that would accomplish the task with minimum force, he specifically rejected calls to occupy Iraq. The plan was to liberate Iraq, then turn it over to the Iraqis so they could govern themselves, for better or for worse.
Rumsfeld tapped retired General Jay Garner to work with the Iraqi opposition. Kurds, Sunnis and Shia came together into an Iraqi Governing Council. They weren’t a bunch of Thomas Jeffersons, for sure. But they were Iraqis.
Instead of turning over the government to them as planned, Bush’s hand-picked envoy to Iraq, former State Department ambassador Paul Bremer, fired them and declared himself viceroy, a one-man government of occupation.
He also fired the Iraqi army, so all of a sudden there were 300,000 men with guns and without paychecks wandering around the country. Within a month, an insurrection began. Gee, duh.
It was never the plan to occupy Iraq. That is why George Bush was greeted with a giant banner that read, “Mission Accomplished,” when he showed up on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003.
From the military’s point of view, they had indeed accomplished their mission, with a force of around 160,000 troops. (And for the record, the commander of the USS Lincoln never cleared the banner with the White House).
Years later, Democrats got cheap thrills by hauling a congeries of retired Generals before Congress who told them, yup, if we’re going to occupy Iraq we’re going to need 500,000 troops, not 160,000.
They just forgot that occupying Iraq was never the plan.
South Carolineans know the truth. They know it because many of them served in Iraq. And of course because they must have read my book, which tells this story in more detail.
After all, the slogan, “Bush lied, people died“ was actually invented by a South Carolinean, a disgruntled retired State Department Democrat living on Hilton Head.
I’m told he doesn’t often remind his neighbors of his claim to fame.
Truth matters. And it’s Donald Trump’s strongest suit, so he should stick to it.