INSTAPUNDIT READER BRUCE BATISTA has obtained a retraction from a columnist who repeated the “imminent threat” canard:

Generous as they are, my editors are not about to put their money where my mouth is, especially since they, and presumably Mr. Batista, have access to the same on-line newspaper database that apparently does not contain any direct reference by the president to an “imminent threat” from Saddam among hundreds of references by others to an unspecified “imminent threat.”

To the contrary, in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech, according to alert reader Pedro J. Diaz, the president went out of his way to say that the threat from Iraq was not imminent. These were Bush’s words:

“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, all recriminations would come too late.”

So, Mr. Batista and others who rushed to their keyboards to correct my “journalistic malpractice” or “outright fraud” can claim the high ground.

Indeed they can.

The columnist, Tom Brazaitis of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, then falls back on the “but Bush implied it!” defense. Except that, as he’s just admitted, Bush didn’t imply it, but expressly disclaimed it.

What the “Bush implied it” claim really amounts to is an astonishing admission that the corps of journalists and pundits who cover national politics, and who pride themselves on their sophistication in doing so, got the story wrong

What’s more, they got it wrong in the face of explicit statements from the President, and others.

That’s far more humiliating than any retraction. It’s an admission of outright professional incompetence. These guys claim to be able to get to the truth when the President is lying. Meanwhile, they can’t even get to the truth when he’s explicitly telling the truth. How pathetic is that?

UPDATE: Reader Gerry Canavan sends this link to an item from InstaPundit last March, when I wrote:

A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK that Bush’s comments last night about Iraq being a threat to the United States and its neighbors were merely policy justifications.

But they’re also laying the groundwork for justifying an attack on Iraq, even without Security Council approval, as self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Yeah, but that’s dated March 7, 2003 — many months after Congress passed its authorization to go to war, which doesn’t really support the “Bush lied to get his war approved” argument, does it?