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Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz is editor of MichaelMoore.com and was research producer for 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' He's also contributed to the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Saturday Night Live and NPR.

January 28th, 2013 12:01 PM

Bush's Greatest Lie Ten Years Ago Today

Just like the greatest actors are never the biggest movie stars, the greatest lie in George W. Bush's January 28th, 2003 State of the Union address has never gotten the recognition it deserves. Everyone got all excited about the "uranium from Africa" and "aluminum tubes" lies, but when award season came around, the lie with the most craft, emotional scope and attention to detail wasn't even nominated:

Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a President can make. The technologies of war have changed; the risks and suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow. This nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost and we dread the days of mourning that always come.

This is how reluctant Bush was:

Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow.

Of course, like all great performances, Bush's State of the Union lie wasn't just about the specifics, it was about a larger truth – which is that the U.S. has essentially never been at peace for the past 237 years.

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