A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, March 19, 2004 :::
Bingo!! Eureka!! At Last!!

For the first time in a couple of months, this writer thinks that all is not lost in November.

Please read the following paragraph from the President’s speech on Iraq this morning. (There is another link here .)

There have been disagreements in this matter, among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability in the Middle East. It's a good thing that the demands of the United Nations were enforced, not ignored with impunity. It is a good thing that years of illicit weapons development by the dictator have come to the end. It is a good thing that the Iraqi people are now receiving aid, instead of suffering under sanctions. And it is a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.

Did you see it? Right there in the middle? The President has found a way of taking the WMD issue head on. "Years of illicit weapons development" is a perfect thumbnail sketch of what David Kay found. In short, George W. Bush has publicly embraced the Kay Report, finally. The only way around this minefield was to plough right through it, and apparently he has decided to do so.

For months, the Administration has been MIA on WMD, and so, alas, have the conservative press and intelligentsia, with all due respect to people that this writer admires deeply. For the most part, there has been a deadly silence, and that may have been just as well. The lines that were tried were all disastrous.

The voters, for instance, would never accept the notion that the lack of WMD was “no big deal.” One hopes that the word “kerfuffle” will now disappear from a certain indispensable publication’s editorials. The word is “debacle,” as in “intelligence debacle.”

Nor would anyone accept the notion that the war was never really about WMD. For certain writers and certain Administration officials, that may have been true, but WMD was the one issue that the Administration promoted, it was the one Congress voted on, it was the one that built the Coalition of the Willing, and it was the one the American people accepted. It is tempting to say that that defense wouldn’t pass the giggle test, but the truth is, the average American would be outraged if the President dared say that.

And most of the people who wanted to try that line hedged their bets by also asserting that the WMD had not been found “yet.” They implicitly recognized that the missing WMD were a very, very big deal indeed.

But “yet?” David Kay was one of the experts that conservative writers cited in the run-up to the war. So now he’s an incompetent? No, he is a fine public servant who believed deeply in the war and did his considerable best.

These were all lines, it must be said, that the conservative press was trying out. The Administration was largely silent. The President had no doubts about David Kay. He told Diane Sawyer that he was surprised that “they weren’t there.” But he was looking for a way to get through the minefield, and nothing that anyone came up with worked for him. He does have astounding political sense, and he recognizes losers as well as winners.

There was never any reason to doubt Dr. Kay. And there was no reason to doubt that Dr. Kay proved two things: first, “we were almost completely wrong” about Saddam’s WMD, and, second, we needed to go in.

A story: this writer greatly respects the opinion of a moderate Republican friend with many years’ experience in government. Incurable insomniacs both, they were able to hash over the war this year at a now defunct, sorely missed, yet nonetheless lousy neighborhood pub. Those late evenings provided a great relief, as much of the commentary on the war on both sides was so partisan as to be unhelpful. Talking to someone with clear vision helped steady the nerves.

When the war started, this friend was lukewarm at best on the need to go to war. When the WMD came up missing, he became extremely frustrated with the Administration and its motivations. When the interim Kay report came out, he concluded readily that it proved the need to go to war for a very simple reason: the diplomatic situation was such that Saddam would have been relieved of the burden of sanctions if he had not been relieved of “office.” Why conservatives went dithering over Kay’s findings is something this writer has never understood, and dithering, he is afraid, is the word that fits.

But in these months of silence and misstatements, the Democrats and our other opponents have not been silent. More Americans now think that the President lied than believe him. That was the great deadweight on this election, and the only polling number that mattered. One conservative writer rehashed every poll recently, and left that one out. He got an e-mail with the subject line “Your Dog Didn’t Bark,” which neither amused him nor inspired him to reply. But the analogy was apt.

And on top of all that, the Coalition is finally beginning to fray.

Now the President has seen his way to embracing the report and using it actively. This is great news. It is a little flame, which must be fanned. Six months from now, George W. Bush will stand on a stage in front of a worldwide audience, and at least one person will bluntly accuse him of lying. He can only respond with the truth, because the truth is the only weapon conservatives really have.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:24 PM



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