July 16, 2003

MORE WMD BLOWBACK -- even Ed Koch is mad at the Democrats:

The Democratic candidates for president – and many in the media – are trying to make President Bush seem like a liar. In so doing, they are making an unforgivable mistake. . . .

Although I am a Democrat, I am no ideologue. In some local and state elections, I have proudly crossed party lines for candidates I thought were appreciably better. I believe that the most important issue facing the world is international terrorism, and it is my current intention to vote for George W. Bush for re-election.

I do not agree with him on many domestic issues, ranging from privatizing Social Security to tax reductions favoring the wealthy. However, because of his leadership and successes in the war against international terrorism, he is my current choice in 2004. . . .

I believe Democrats and their media allies will fail to bring Bush down, because taking on Saddam Hussein was the right course of action for America.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile Tom Friedman thinks Bush's big mistake is paying attention to the carping:

For me, though, it is a disturbing thought that the Bush team could get itself so tied up defending its phony reasons for going to war — the notion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that were undeterrable and could threaten us, or that he had links with Al Qaeda — that it could get distracted from fulfilling the real and valid reason for the war: to install a decent, tolerant, pluralistic, multireligious government in Iraq that would be the best answer and antidote to both Saddam and Osama.

If the Bush team wants to win the real war, it must keep its eyes on the prize.

I think he's right, and I think that all of this has been exactly what Ed Koch call it, an effort by some Democrats and their media allies to distract people. I wonder if, in part, the purpose wasn't to generate a smokescreen to undercut the impact on black voters of Bush's trip to Africa.

UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan I found this from weapons inspector David Kay:

Kay: I’ve already seen enough to convince me, but that’s not the standard. I’ve got to have enough evidence to convince everyone of that. And that’s why we’re going through this process. . . .

Well, he was certainly hiding and moving things around. He’s been doing that for twelve years. There was a tremendous amount of destruction and moving of things immediately and during the war. And some of this actually continued after the war. We’ve seen targeted looting in which you’ll go into a building and the only thing that’s destroyed are the documents in the file cabinets that are ashes. That’s why these documents right here are so important to us. . . .

Well, first of all, a big chunk of them deals with foreign procurement. Where they actually - every WMD program in this country has always had large elements of foreign procurement. So we’re finding purchasing records that tells us what they imported. They also-they were assiduous as record-keepers. So we’re finding progress reports. They also got financial rewards from Saddam Hussein by indicating breakthroughs. They actually went to Saddam and said we have made this progress. Their records, their audio tapes of those interviews give us that.

Read the whole thing. And the "foreign procurement" stuff has got to be making people nervous. No doubt, though, the French will claim that the documents are all forgeries. Say, you don't think that was what the fake Niger documents were all about, do you?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Cone writes:

If a Democrat wins next year, what would be the future of Bush’s aggressive military strategy of addressing state-sponsored terrorism emanating from the Middle East? What will our message be toward Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria? How much time and money would a Democratic president devote to nation building? Those are answers I’d like to hear.

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want to go to war, it’s done. We are where we are. Where we go next is the key.

That doesn’t mean that Bush shouldn’t get pounded for any shady tactics used to sell his agenda to the nation. But that agenda is in place. Friedman hardly gives Bush a free pass on resorting to “phony reasons for going to war,” but he’s able to compartmentalize. His advice is detailed and tough: “Sunni Muslim areas…need to be reinvaded and then showered with reconstruction funds,” and “we must provide massive support for the new Council.”

Screwing up on nation-building in Iraq will lead to more terrorism and undermine our status in the world. The same is true in Afghanistan. That’s why Democrats should lay off the trusty quagmire rhetoric and avoid politicizing the reconstruction process. There is no quick exit or cheap solution if we do it right.

If you want to get elected, you need a plan. Do the Democrats have one?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The WMD argument has officially entered its baroque phase.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, it's definitely there now.

POSITIVELY THE LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: Tom Maguire has much more on this, and says that Josh Marshall is either being spun, or is on his way to a Pulitzer.