A Question of Priorities: So, despite denying it on Monday, George W. Bush now admits that ousted Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was right--that plans to attack Iraq were underway from his first days in office, long before September 11 provided a plausible excuse. A big scandal becomes no big deal. Just like the all-but-forgotten Nigerian uraniam error in the State of the Union, just like the Halliburton deals, a presidential campaign bankrolled by top donor "Kenny Boy" Lay, and the Bush family's cozy entanglements with the bin Ladens. Forget what this means: the president unapologetically concedes that the toppling of a despot's impotent regime is more important than bringing to justice the terrorists who murdered nearly 2000 Americans in 2001. And his priorities haven't changed.

While presidential candidate Wesley Clark recently picked up on this--he called Iraq a "distraction" from capturing bin Laden and urged the launching of an investigation into why Bush sought war--the American mainstream press seems to have set its priorities elsewhere, too. "Bush still trusts his teflon" reads a UPI headline for a story that, instead of examining O'Neill's claims and their implications, opines that recent events "ought to be major embarrassments, yet none of them seem to have cost him any political ground." An opinion piece at MichNews.com, headlined "Bush Soars Ahead," begins, "Already the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's complaints about the Bush administration are fading quickly." I wonder why. The mainstream media seems less interested in investigating O'Neill's allegations than in breathlessly reporting on the spanking the administration is giving him--a fellow Republican--for speaking his mind.

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