WEB EXCLUSIVE | JEFF JACOBY
Ted Kennedy's anti-American slander
TWO WEEKS ago Senator Ted Kennedy uttered what may turn out to be the single most disgusting remark made about the United States in the course of the Iraq War. The reaction to his slander - or rather, the lack of reaction - speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of the American left.
Speaking in the Senate on May 10, Kennedy had this to say about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal:
''On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked, 'Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?' Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management - US management.''
This was not a blurted, off-the-cuff comment - Kennedy was reading from a prepared text. It was not a shocked first reaction to the abuses at Abu Ghraib - the story had broken more than a week earlier. Incredibly, the senior senator from Massachusetts really was equating the disgraceful mistreatment of a few Iraqi prisoners by a few American troops with the unspeakable sadism, rape, and mass murder that had been routine under Saddam Hussein.
Kennedy's vile calumny should have triggered outrage. Here was the most prominent liberal politician in America accusing his own government of the very savagery it said it had gone to war to uproot. It was the worst kind of anti-American poison, and it was coming not from a crackpot with no following but from one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. It should have unleashed an uproar.
It unleashed nothing.
Oh, there was a reproachful editorial here and there, and Kennedy was condemned on a few radio talk shows. But in the mainstream media and the Democratic Party establishment, Kennedy's words were a non-event. There was no demand for an apology. There was no storm of criticism. There was no sense of astonishment that a leading US lawmaker could so recklessly denigrate his nation's military in wartime. (A spokesman said yesterday that Kennedy ''doesn't back away at all'' from the May 10 comment, and rejects the interpretation given to it ''by right-wing radio shows.'')
When Kennedy appeared on NBC's ''Today'' program on May 13, it didn't even occur to host Matt Lauer to challenge him on the appalling equivalence he had drawn three days earlier. Instead of pressing Kennedy for an explanation, Lauer let him go even further in his reckless campaign to drive down American morale and undercut support for the war.
''This is just a continuation of disaster after disaster in terms of Iraq policy,'' Kennedy seethed. ''We are the most hated nation in the world as a result of this disastrous policy in the prisons. I think our troops are in greater danger than they have been before. I think it's going to be tougher to fight Al Qaeda. I think the chances of another attack here in the United States have been enhanced.'' With barely a change of pronoun, those words could have been dictated by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Moqtada al-Sadr, or the mullahs in Iran. Yet neither Lauer nor his colleagues appeared to see anything amiss in a US senator spouting such bitter anti-American propaganda. Continued...