During today's White House press briefing, Scott McClellan took a comment by President Bush out of context, and in doing so may have created a rallying cry for conservatives.
McClellan was answering a question regarding Vice President Dick Cheney's speech today before the conservative-friendly American Enterprise Institute, during which Cheney defended the Iraq War as being a necessary part of the war on terror, and not something that "stirred up a hornet's nest" of terrorism.
From the press conference:
Q "We weren't in Iraq on September 11th and the terrorists hit us anyway." Would you not agree that there's some linkage there?
McCLELLAN: No, I think he's making the point that the president made last week, that those who suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, that the terrorists would just be idle. That's an absurd allegation, because the terrorists are determined to spread their fear and chaos and violence throughout the civilized world. They attacked us well before we were in Iraq; they attacked other countries well before any decisions were made to go into Iraq.
I read the comments, and couldn't think of a single Democrat who had made the "absurd allegation" that if we weren't in Iraq, the terrorists would be idle. (The White House press corps apparently didn't come to the same conclusion, letting McClellan's comment go by unchallenged.)
After all, the Democrats had universally supported the war in Afghanistan and the effort to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, and to dismantle Al Qaeda. What Democrat would suggest the equivalent of closing our eyes and hoping terrorism goes away? None.
McClellan's comment seemed so "absurd," I had to wonder why President Bush would make such an "absurd allegation."
Funny thing. He didn't.
During his Nov. 30 speech in Annapolis, MD, during which Bush offered the Orwellian-themed "Plan For Victory," this is what he actually said:
BUSH: This is an enemy without conscience — and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people.
No dig against war critics. Just a straightforward defense of the war, which McClellan took out of context.