This month, the president finally began to fight back against the Democrats’ claims that he lied about pre-war intelligence and misled the country into war in Iraq.
The issues that the president has addressed--the accusation that he lied about pre-war intelligence and that Democrats lied when they accused him of lying--needed to be dealt with, and his excellent performance already appears to be showing some good results. There is a related issue, though, that is screaming to be addressed, and it needs to be done before the next election. The administration and Republicans at all levels next need to explain to the public how the actions of the Democrats over the past three years have exposed them as incapable of governing in today’s world of global Islamic terrorism.
One lesson learned over the past three years is that intelligence collected and interpreted by humans always contains an element of subjectivity and even what might appear a “slam dunk” can be found to be wrong.
In light of this, voters have to ask on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world. When it is pointed out that President Clinton was on-record saying the same things said by President Bush about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, many Democrats respond by saying, “Yes, but he didn’t take us to war over it.” That is exactly the point Republicans need to make. Someone needs to ask if Democrats would not take action knowing what they did about Saddam, and what would it take for them ever to decide to act against a known threat.
A few months ago, I wrote that the president should be making the argument Dick Cheney made in a brilliant speech in July 2003 to the AEI. He said that knowing what we knew then, prior to invading Iraq, and looking at it in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks, it would have been irresponsible NOT to take action to remove Saddam Hussein:
"Now the regime of Saddam Hussein is gone forever. And at a safe remove from the danger, some are now trying to cast doubt upon the decision to liberate Iraq. The ability to criticize is one of the great strengths of our democracy. But those who do so have an obligation to answer this question: How could any responsible leader have ignored the Iraqi threat?"