Let me risk venturing into the realm of politics. There has been a call for more Christians, especially those of us who are smitten with the idea of a generous orthodoxy, to engage in a “purple” politics — and by that is meant a politics that absorbs the good in “red” and “blue” so that it is not simply partisan politics. This is a noble venture and high calling, but lots of what I hear is mostly blue in the guise of purple. For us to develop a purple politics we will need to be independent-minded, committed to the way of Jesus, and people who can see what is good in each side of the debate. Take, for instance, whether or not it is accurate to say that George Bush lied about Iraq.
Did George Bush lie when it comes to whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMDs? Which means, did George Bush “knowingly know” that there were no WMDs but, to provide fuller argument for his case, then say Saddam did in order to convince the American public, the Congress, and other nations that military intervention was justifiable?
This is what I mean by purple politics: that we have enough control of our emotions and our minds that we can see the evidence for what it is, even when it disagrees with our overall view. (If you want to know if I’m a “red” or “blue” kind of guy, I’ll tell you: I’ve voted Democrat for a long time and for all the wrong reasons. I’ll unpack that some other time, but let it be said that my “all the wrong reasons” is an adult life of what I’d call purple politics.) Can “blue” folk look this issue in the eyes and see what is really there? Can “red” folk do the same? Can we transcend the partisanship on this one?
It makes no sense to want to be purple if one is always, in the end, just red out looking for an argument or blue pretending to be non-partisan. Personally, I consider someone “purple” when I see some independent thinking about pressing political issues. Someone who thinks Iraq is wrong and abortion wrong; or capitalism wrong and defense justifiable; or Supreme Court Justice debates too political and libertarian when it comes local issues and pro-environment but also tolerant on big business. To be purple means not being consistently partisan as the parties now line up. Purple is not a hue of blue, nor is it a shade of red. It is both, and it gets messy.
On top of this, I’m a pacifist: I have no vested interest here, except maybe to find that military invasions are wrong.
My reading of the evidence is that George Bush did not lie, and it bothers me that so many of my brothers and sisters, who tend to lean left in politics, continue to provoke anger and promote their cause by contending George Bush lied. This is a serious charge, so serious that impeachment would at least be a legitimate concern. In spite of many, many counter-statements supporting the position that Bush operated within what he knew (and did not lie), many continue to trumpet the claim that Bush out and out lied. Purple politics asks to see the evidence.
Here’s some evidence I’ve considered, not because I agree with the ideology, but because I want to know:
The Conversation Cafe
Commentary magazine, December 2005 (lead article by Norman Podhoretz)
I read such sources because I want to know what the each side is saying, and on this one the “reds” have the goose by the neck.
Here’s why I believe he didn’t lie: George Bush, along with nearly everyone else in the Western world, was mistaken by intelligence or simply fooled by clever moving of evidence. (I still consider it possible that the evidence was moved; I don’t know.)
What is being argued by some today is that too many got it wrong. Including England, France (yes, France), the Germans, Hans Blix, and such notables as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, William Cohen, John Kerry (yep), Robert Byrd, and Teddy Kennedy — each of these, somehow and in someway, made it clear in the years preceding the invasion of Iraq that they believed Saddam Hussein was building or seeking access to WMDs. Even Joseph C. Wilson IV made a statement, three months after Iraq’s invasion, to this effect.
I could be wrong, but I’m willing to listen to what I see as clear statement by many, many that they believed, short of invasion, that Saddam had or was gaining access to WMDs and that the intelligence community was behind it all — the intelligence communites behind the Clinton and Bush eras.
So here’s where I am: I think invasion was wrong (for Christian moral reasons), but I don’t think George Bush lied.