Digby reprints Peggy Noonan's November 2000 evaluation of G.W. Bush and what an allegedly wonderful, rugged, he-man of an honest and sincere guy he was. Noonan got a lot right, but ho-o-o-o-boy! Did she get a lot wrong! These paragraphs were especially off-base:

Mr. Bush is at odds with the spirit of the past eight years in another way. He appears to be wholly uninterested in lying, has no gift for it, thinks it's wrong.
...half the foreign and defense policy establishment fears, legitimately, that the Big Terrible Thing is coming, whether in India-Pakistan, or in Asia or in lower Manhattan.

When it comes, if it comes, the credibility--the trustworthiness--of the American president will be key to our national survival.

Well fortunately, Bush's utter lack of trustworthiness did not cost America its "national survival," but it certainly made it necessary for the President-elect to pledge a sharp break with the "past eight years" that came after Bill Clinton's two terms. From President-elect Obama's interview with Time Magazine on December 17th:

(When asked how the American people would know by the mid-term election of 2010 that he had been successful in restoring American credibility) "On foreign policy, have we closed down Guantánamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our Constitution? Have we rebuilt alliances around the world effectively?"

The total lack of honesty, fundamental human decency and reliability is now coming around to bite various "Bushies" in the rear end. It seems that in January 2004, the then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales defended the pre-war statements of the then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice concerning uranium from Niger and:

The information the Oversight Committee has received casts serious doubt on the veracity of the representations that Mr. Gonzales made on behalf of Dr. Rice.

D'oh! What was very clear from the fabled "16 words" that Ambassador Joseph Wilson discredited was that, at the very minimum, the Bush Administration had failed to perform "due diligence." From a Free Republic summary of the evidence concerning Niger uranium:

A White House spokesman said yesterday, "We have acknowledged that some documents detailing a transaction between Iraq and Niger were forged and we no longer give them credence."

Problem: Had there been a "transaction between Iraq and Niger" to move 400 tons of uranium ore (It takes about 100 tons of ore to get enough refined uranium to make a bomb) from Niger, proper due diligence would have required that the Bush Administration should have detailed how Niger intended to move the uranium ore to Iraq.

Niger has no railroad lines from their uranium mines to the sea, so it would have had to have moved the ore via trucks. Driving from the border of Niger through Nigeria to the city of Lagos or through Benin to Porto-Novo is about 400 miles. Let's say each truck could carry two tons of ore each. That means they'd have to assemble a convoy of 200 trucks. They'd have to add in vehicles to act as advance scouts and a dozen or so light, armed vehicles to provide security. Presuming good roads, the convoy could make the journey in a day, moving the uranium onto a ship would probably take longer, depending on how ships there are loaded.

Chances are zilch that this could have been done secretly. Nigeria or Benin would have had an opinion on the matter and would have demanded to know exactly what the convoy was carrying. Every intel agency in the area would be aware of such a large convoy and every naval power in the world would be aware of the movement of the ore onto a ship, which would have been tracked all the way to its destination. It's simply not credible to say that such a movement could have been made in such a way that the US would not have been aware of it.

Can President Bush credibly claim that due diligence was performed? Did Peggy Noonan judge Bush's honesty correctly? I think we can safely say that Noonan's character-judging abilities are completely worthless.

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