Growing up my father told me the stories that he was told as a boy growing up in China in the 1920s. I don’t remember all the details but I do remember that the stories lacked in subtlety. They scared the heck out of me.
One of the stories was a version of the boy who cried wolf. It was a cousin to every other story of its type. And its message was the same – you can’t be screaming out that a hideous danger is about to be upon us too many times without it being true or else people will stop listening.
That is President Bush’s problem – and ours.
In his news conference yesterday he was bolder, stronger, tougher than he has been of late reiterated the danger Al Qaeda still poses. News reports yesterday of their increased strength underscore the point. “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that’s why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home,” the president said.
The president’s problem – and ours – is that he has said all the same things for the last 5 1/2 years. Fighting Al Qaeda was one of the big reasons – apart from WMD – from going into Iraq. It is what he truly believes. Take, for instance, this quote from an April 2004 press conference:
I did contemplate a larger strategy as to how to deal with al Qaeda. We were shooting Cruise missiles, and with little effect. And I said, if we’re going to go after al Qaeda, let’s have a comprehensive strategy as to how to deal with it, with that entity.
How is he to be believed anymore? And yet, now that it is perhaps true, how can he not be believed? For after the Iraq War, horrifically, all of the warnings may now actually be true. Al Qaeda is in Iraq like never before. Their strength is increasing. The wolf may be nearer. What a horrible situation.