The Magazine

Richard Cohen, Clark, MoDo, and more.

Feb 2, 2004, Vol. 9, No. 20
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In his most recent column, Cohen likens President Bush to Ken Lay, the disgraced ex-CEO of Enron, and excoriates the president for an "intellectually dishonest" State of the Union address. Cohen's main problem was the president's statement that WMD programs had been found in Iraq and Bush's failure to correct some misimpressions remaining from last year's State of the Union. Among them, according to Cohen: the president's allegations of Iraqi "links to Sept. 11 and al Qaeda."

Someday we'll weary of pointing this out: Bush in that speech did not allege "links" between Iraq and the September 11 attacks. What's more, Bush has never claimed that Iraq was behind the attacks. Indeed, he has twice said publicly that there is no evidence of Iraqi involvement.

What the Bush administration claims, instead, are Iraqi connections with al Qaeda. In recent months, Cohen has called these claims "hoary" and "fictive" and "a farce." There were, he has written, "no links to al Qaeda," and suggestions to the contrary are "just plain hogwash."

He seems very certain that he is right. Why? Because "al Qaeda is not well disposed toward secular leaders." (Talk about hoary.) Plus "a gaggle of experts jumped all over" Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. detailing the links. Yes, and? According to Powell, "a detained al Qaeda member tells us that Saddam was more willing to assist al Qaeda after the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania." And, "al Qaeda affiliates based in Baghdad now coordinate the movement of people, money, and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they have now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months."

These things were either true or they're false. If Cohen knows they're false, he should let us in on how.

Maureen's Testosterone Fixation

What is it with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and testosterone? Nexis her byline and the word crops up so often you'd think she moonlights as a urologist. Here's the latest specimen: "You wonder how many votes [the president] scared off with that testosterone festival [i.e., his State of the Union]: the taunting message, the self-righteous geographic litany of support? The Philippines. Thailand. Italy. Spain. Poland. Denmark. Bulgaria. Ukraine. Romania. The Netherlands. Norway. El Salvador. Can you believe President Bush is still pushing the cockamamie claim that we went to war in Iraq with a real coalition rather than a gaggle of poodles and lackeys?"

Florida National Guard lieutenant Jason Van Steenwyk, blogging from Iraq (iraqnow.blogspot.com), could barely restrain himself, and who can blame him? "I wonder how many of these soldiers she's had the privilege of looking in the eye? I've met and worked with soldiers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand . . . , Poland, the Ukraine, Romania, Azerbaijan, and Denmark. I've also met Fijians. Those guys ride around in swivel chairs with machine gun mounts on the backs of pickup trucks guarding Iraqi Currency Exchange convoys. Their . . . job is dangerous as hell, and they are as tough as two-dollar steaks. The ANZACS are not poodles, nor lackeys. Nor do they represent a government who is."