Polls show President Bush lost the first debate against Democratic presidential contender John Kerry. Why? Bush failed to respond to Kerry's assertions.
Let's deal with them.
Did Bush irresponsibly use the "authority" given him by Congress? The president spent 18 months generating domestic and international support to deal with Saddam Hussein.
The president sought and obtained approval -- including John Kerry's -- for authority to use force. After all, Saddam stood in defiance of numerous United Nations resolutions and -- in a post-9/11 world -- what commander in chief could responsibly sit by and ignore a ruler who used chemical weapons on his own people; whose military fired on British and American planes patrolling the no-fly zones; whose regime paid $25,000 to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers; and who had ties (if not operational cooperation) with terrorist groups, including al Qaeda?
The intelligence community thought -- with good reason -- that Saddam stockpiled WMD.
Former Clinton CIA Director R. James Woolsey notes that Iraq admitted making 8.5 tons of anthrax, which -- reduced to powder -- could fill a dozen easily portable suitcases, and believes that Iraqi WMD-related material "probably" entered Syria months before the war. Former President Bill Clinton, on July 22, 2003, said, " . . . [I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons [in Iraq]."
Did Bush fail to build a "genuine" coalition of nations? The president sought and received a unanimous U.N. resolution requiring Hussein to come completely clean about his WMD program. Anything short would trigger "serious consequences." Yet Kerry wishes us to believe that "serious consequences" meant something less than the war. Kerry calls the current coalition "coerced and bribed." Even though he voted for the authority to go to war, Kerry's most recent version says, "It is not the kind of coalition we were described when we were talking about voting for this." In 1991, with a "genuine" coalition for the Persian Gulf War, Kerry voted against it.