Now Bush is telling us that Iran is a threat. (That’s Iran with an ‘n’, not Iraq with a ‘q’.)
Iran may well be a threat. This may well be a serious crisis. But we have a problem: a President with no credibility. Mid-2003 I wrote,
Saying there was an imminent threat from Iraq when, at the very least, the intelligence did not support such a claim, opens the public up to doubt the next time a President needs to protect us from an ACTUAL threat. …. He has broken the bond of trust between the public and the Office of the President on the most critical issue, and politicized the process, and this has placed us all in danger should there be an ACTUAL threat to our nation and our lives in the future.
And here we are – maybe. A man who defends starting a needless war by saying it was an honest mistake is now telling us that Iran is a threat, and this time it’s for real. Naturally, the reaction of many in the world is that Bush saying Iran is a threat makes it more likely that not that Iran is not a threat.
There is a way for Bush to convince the world that there really is a terrible threat from Iran and that we must deal with it.
If Iran is a threat to world peace, and Bush’s credibility is the obstacle to dealing with the threat, Bush should show his sincerity and concern for world peace by stepping aside.
There is precedent for my idea. On March 31, 1968 President Lyndon Johnson faced a similar problem. He had lost credibility over the Vietnam War and the country was sharply divided. He wanted to end the war, but how could he prove to the country – and to the North Vietnamese – that he meant it, that it wasn’t an election gimmick? He went on TV from the Oval Office with a speech I still remember. Toward the end of the speech he spoke about how the war was dividing the country, and how politics was exacerbating the problem.
For 37 years in the service of our nation, first as a Congressman, as a Senator, and as Vice President, and now as your President, I have put the unity of the people first. I have put it ahead of any divisive partisanship. And in these times as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.
There is division in the American house now. There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospects of peace for all peoples. So, I would ask all Americans, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all of its ugly consequences.
… With American sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office — the Presidency of your country.
And then Johnson shocked the nation, saying,
“Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term of office as your President.“
By not running for re-election LBJ effectively resigned from office to prove his sincerity and attempt to heal the divisiveness in the country.
If Bush really believes that Iran is a threat to the United States he should do the right thing to prove his sincerity and protect the country. He should say, “I understand that following the mistaken invasion of Iraq my credibility is an obstacle, but we face a terrible threat from Iran developing nuclear weapons. For this reason, and as a gesture of my sincerity when I say that we must deal with this threat I am announcing tonite that I resign the office of President of the United States.”