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

Saturday, March 20, 2004 :::
There is a flip side to yesterday's good news, the unveiling of the Administration's defense of the war in Iraq, which confronts the issue of the missing WMD. That is, the "positive" side to the Kay Report does not deal with one issue on its negative side: the weapons were not there.

This writer has been going back over the debate in 2002, and what is remarkable is the utter lack of discussion of any other issue than WMD. The terror network, indeed, does not get much discussion. For the Administration, and in the conservative press, the overwhelming issue was WMD. Even the phrase "axis of evil" refers to WMD (although the President did tie it to the terror network in that speech.)

Now, it must be said that many of these two-year-old statements have something of an ad hoc feel to them, though whether that is the result of hindsight is difficult to tell. We know there was tremendous jockeying behind the scenes over whether to place the war in the context of a broader policy, and how broad that policy was to be, but clearly WMD was the one that they could all agree on.

According to a poll yesterday, fully 60% of the public thinks that the Administration "exaggerated" the WMD issue to justify the war. That is an increase, and as long as conservatives and Republicans (they are not the same thing) think they can just ignore the issue, that number may well just keep on going up.

The President seems to have found his way to stating the positive case for the war based on WMD, but that is only half the battle. He really will stand on a stage before a world audience in six months time, and someone really will look at him and accuse him of lying. What will he say?

Peggy Noonan is no doubt right: people inside an Administration probably have trouble coming up with arguments that work. It would be nice if the conservative press pulled up its socks and helped him come up with a one sentence, debate ending rebuttal, it there is one. They may like to say that the issue is going to go away, but it is not. Just ask the 100,000 young people who came back home after spending a hellacious and unpredictable year on a futile quest. Just ask the parents whose children died if they think the lack of WMD is "no big deal."

So now the President has settled on using the Kay Report to his advantage--after 6 months of near total silence. What does he do after another six months are up, and he is standing alone on that stage? It is not a minor question.

The New Republic this week recounts a recent interview on TV where some Democratic Party operatives--oh, excuse me--network reporters confronted Donald Rumsfeld with a quote where he pretty much did say the threat was "imminent." (Technically, he said "immediate.") He could only hem and haw. The issue is not going to go away.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 4:01 PM



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