I don't believe Democrat leaders are quite as sanguine as they're pretending to be about the recent election results and President Bush's low approval ratings. They know that to convert these trends into an electoral sweep in 2006 they're either going to have to develop a salable policy blueprint, especially for Iraq, or -- and this is much easier and more likely -- attempt to further scandalize the president.
Could they, as others have suggested, be laying a foundation for a run at impeachment? Why else would they be recycling the outrageous "Bush lied" claims they peddled, unsuccessfully, in 2004?
I know of no other way to combat this deceit than to refute it as often as they serve it up. Otherwise, theirs will be the only voice on the issue, and they'll continue to manipulate public opinion through false pretenses.
The White House appears finally to have awakened from its slumbering naivete, as President Bush shot back last week, rebuking his partisan critics for rewriting history for political profit. But he, too, must realize that a couple of volleys of return fire won't be enough to stave off their ever-advancing forces.
The critics have entered a new no-holds-barred phase of their war against him, and the White House better respond in kind and take the offense against those who are remorselessly bearing false witness against him.
While they're at it, the administration's first responders (to scurrilous opposition propaganda) also ought to expose the Democrats' foreign policy incoherence, which just happens to be tied, and causally related, to their "Bush lied" claims. The charges serve as a cover for their abject failure to offer any alternative to the president's policies.
Chris Wallace's interview of Sen. Jay Rockefeller on "Fox News Sunday" provides a good illustration of how the critics' slanders are tethered to their substantive cluelessness on Iraq.
Wallace, admirably attempting to corner the slippery senator, played him a pre-war clip of his own self-damning assertion. "I do believe," said Rockefeller in a speech in October 2002, in which he authorized the use of force in Iraq, "that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11 that question is increasingly outdated."
As Wallace pointed out, Rockefeller "went further than the president ever did," in actually assessing Iraq as an "imminent threat."