Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Truth is the second casualty of war. The first is dissent. Senate minority leader Tom Daschle has been taking a pounding for his mild comments criticizing George W. Bush's failure to put together a broadbased international coalition to invade Iraq. Naturally, he's being called unpatriotic and worse by everyone from Ari Fleischer to the editorial page of the Sioux City Argus Leader, a leading daily in his home state of South Dakota.

Here is what Daschle actually said on Monday: "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort so critical for our country." It's hard to believe such a common-sense utterance could even be considered controversial.

By far the nuttiest attack on Daschle I've run across is this short piece by Hugh Hewitt, a radio talk-show host who contributes little screeds to the Weekly Standard's website. Hewitt compares Daschle -- who voted in favor of the war resolution last fall and who hasn't changed his mind about that -- to the Hitler-appeasing Charles Lindbergh. The Lindy quote that Hewitt cites: "I do not want to see American bombers dropping bombs which will kill and mutilate European children, even if they are not flown by American pilots."

Thus does Hewitt conflate Daschle's sadness over having to go it alone in Iraq because of Bush's arrogance and Lindbergh's out-and-out support for Hitler, support that was so deep that he opposed Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to put weapons in the hands of our allies in the years before 1941. Ugly, ugly stuff.

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