Along the Tracks

Friday, June 06, 2003

The ice is getting thin

I don’t know how he does it, but President Bush seems to have the innate ability to draw his enemies far out on thin ice - then smash it with a hammer.

Right now, among the ardent anti-Bush crowd, it is becoming conventional wisdom that a) there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; b) the Bush administration lied about the intelligence on Iraq to build war support and c) this is the “scandal” which will bring down the Bush presidency.

Today, in the New York Times, Nick Kristof has a column claiming the intelligence on Iraq was forced to fit an ideological mold, with the left’s favorite administration bogeyman, Don Rumsfeld, ordering agents and analysts to make the data fit his predetermined notions. And his predetermined notions, of course, led inevitably to war. Kristof tosses out the perfunctory disclaimer that the weapons may “still turn up,” but argues that will be irrelevant to the real problem, which, in a nutshell, is Don Rumsfeld’s power inside the Bush administration.

What I really find interesting is how, on his overseas trip, President Bush seemed to do everything he could to keep discussion of the missing weapons on the front-burner - just the opposite of what you would expect, if the weapons were a falsified or exaggerated pretext to start a war. In fact, during his speech to the troops in Qatar, Bush practically guaranteed we’d find the weapons, which got all the headlines and had the anti-Bush babblers in an uproar. I have no doubt that comment is what triggered Kristof’s filing in the Times today.

“On Day 78 of the Search for Iraqi W.M.D,” he opens gloatingly, “yesterday, once again nothing turned up.” A nice slap at Bush’s speech, and one that exudes condescension at our dummy-dum president.

Look how far out people have walked on this thin, thin layer of ice!

What happens when those weapons are found? What do these people say then? Rumsfeld’s too powerful, even if he’s right? The intelligence wasn’t good enough to start a war, even if the interpretations made by the Bush administration were proven out?

Many leading Democrats have started jumping on this bandwagon, and I’ve got to say, I almost wonder if Bush political advisor Karl Rove is in charge of deciding when to release information on captured weapons. That’s a pretty cynical statement on my part, and no, I don’t really believe it. But I do believe that this administration, “The Most Secretive Since Nixon” according to its critics, holds information tight to the vest until it has analyzed it, discussed it and put it into a complete package. If weapons have been found, we may not be told about it for several days - maybe even a couple weeks - while specialists look at it, figure out how it fits into the grand Iraqi scheme, track connections back to other Iraqis who may know where more is hidden, etc. None of this necessarily requires a press conference, and may in fact be aided by a period of running under the radar. It won’t remain secret for long, because it is in the administration’s interest to release the info and prove it was right all along. But once you have the proof (and while you’re still doing the crucial work of securing all of the material), what’s the rush?

And if a bunch of Democrats and liberals want to run out onto the ice and set themselves up for a big drenching, well, that’s just an added bonus, isn’t it!

UPDATE: I noticed Max Boot had an op-ed to the same effect in the Wall Street Journal, and Bill Crystal, Brit Hume, Mort Zuckerman and Tony Blankley made similar suggestions in each of their weekend appearances on the news shows. If the idea is out there so clearly (and obviously), why don't the liberal critics see this coming? I would suggest that they hate Bush so much, they can't see how far out they are getting from the supportable facts - which, by the way, might very well indicate intelligence and policy analysis failures on the part of the Bush administration. The latest example of their foolhardy recklessness? Howard Dean's suggestion that this "scandal" - i.e., no weapons found yet - is bigger than Watergate. Puh-leeeze!

UPDATE + 1: Instapundit has a post on this that can only be described as "massive" (very informative and contains some great links).

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