Jonah Goldberg

If Iraq was an imminent threat, why on earth would Rockefeller be hoping for more U.N. negotiations? George W. Bush never said Iraq was an "imminent" threat. But it's funny: Democrats constantly insisted - during the last round of liberal whining - that Bush had implied the threat was imminent in order to short-circuit debate over the war. Because, you see, everyone agreed that if the threat from Iraq was imminent, then war would have been justified and necessary. Well, Rocky did say it was imminent - no doubt influencing many of his colleagues because he was their intelligence point-man. But now Rockefeller says he didn't vote for the war because the threat was imminent. Heck, he says he didn't vote for war at all. He voted for Kofi Annan to wag his finger at an imminent threat to the United States of America. That's leadership for you.

The truth is that Rockefeller saw things more clearly back then. Saddam may not have been an imminent threat, but Rockefeller was right that the question of imminence was "increasingly outdated." The lesson of 9/11 for most Americans back then wasn't "We need better intelligence about Saddam." It was "We must never let this happen again." The attacks proved that our enemies were willing to do anything, and that meant no more fooling around with U.N. resolutions, inspectors, or Saddam's lies and bluffs. It was time to get serious. And Saddam was the right target not so much because he was the biggest threat but because he was the best place to get started, after Afghanistan.

This doesn't mean there weren't good and serious objections to toppling Saddam. Reid is forgetting all that. Indeed, his chief - almost sole - objection to the war wasn't about Iraqi intelligence, it was about Bush's failure to build a larger international coalition (ditto John Kerry and others). The emphasis on proving the WMD angle came from Bush's desire to win the U.N.'s approval for an umpteenth resolution, not the Democrat-controlled Senate.

You don't hear about any of this from the "Bush lied" Dems because they're following Reid's lead. And, as they say, the fish rots from the head down.

The head is Reid, in case you didn't get that.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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