There's always been the frightening question of what would happen if a President of United States went completely bonkers. But there is an equally disturbing issue of what happens if a President loses touch with reality, especially if he is surrounded by enough sycophants and enablers so no one can or will stop him.
At his Oct. 11 news conference, Bush gave the country a peek into his imaginary world, a bizarre place impenetrable by facts and logic, where falsehoods, once stated, become landmarks and where Bush's "gut" instinct, no matter how misguided, is the compass for finding one's way.
In speaking to White House reporters, Bush maneuvered casually through this world like an experienced guide making passing references to favorite points of interest, such as Hussein's defiance of U.N. resolutions banning WMD (when Hussein actually had eliminated his WMD stockpiles).
"We tried the diplomacy," Bush said. "Remember it? We tried resolution after resolution after resolution." Though the resolutions had worked and left Hussein stripped of his WMD arsenal that isn't how it looks in Bush's world, where the resolutions failed and there was no choice but to invade.
At other news conferences, Bush has filled in details of his fictional history. For instance, on July 14, 2003, just a few months after the Iraq invasion, Bush began rewriting the record to meet his specifications.
"We gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power," Bush told reporters.
In the real world, of course, Hussein admitted U.N. inspectors in fall 2002 and gave them unfettered access to search suspected Iraqi weapons sites. It was Bush who forced the U.N. inspectors to leave in March 2003 so the invasion could proceed.
Over the past three years, Bush has repeated this false claim about the barred inspectors in slightly varied forms as part of his litany for defending the invasion on the grounds that it was Hussein who "chose war," not Bush.
Meeting no protest from the Washington press corps, Bush continued repeating his lie about Hussein showing "defiance" on the inspections. For instance, at a news conference on March 21, 2006, Bush reprised his claims about his diplomatic efforts.
"I was hoping to solve this [Iraq] problem diplomatically," Bush said. "The world said, 'Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.' ... We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it."
Determined to Invade
In reality, documentary evidence shows that Bush was determined to invade Iraq regardless of what U.S. intelligence found or what the Iraqis did.
For instance, the so-called "Downing Street Memo" recounted a secret meeting on July 23, 2002, involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security aides. At that meeting, Richard Dearlove, chief of the British intelligence agency MI6, described his discussions about Iraq with Bush's top advisers in Washington.
Dearlove said, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
At an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 31, 2003, Bush and Blair discussed their determination to invade Iraq, though Bush still hoped that he might provoke the Iraqis into some violent act that would serve as political cover, according to minutes written by Blair's top foreign policy aide David Manning.