Democrat leaders, preparing their rebuttal to the president's speech even before he delivered it, said he should concede he made mistakes as a means to reclaiming credibility on Iraq -- as if they actually want him to have greater credibility.
In the same breath they say he lied to get us into war -- an offense so grave that some of them are advocating he be impeached over it. While national Democrat politicians have long been confused over the distinction between intentional wrongs and mistakes -- thanks to Bill Clinton successfully depicting his pre-meditated transgressions as mistakes -- isn't it clear that if President Bush lied to get us into the war, he didn't merely make a mistake?
But let's explore this beyond semantics. As everyone should know by now, President Bush based his decision to attack on intelligence information provided to him and which he didn't pressure the intelligence agencies to exaggerate. The intelligence agencies of most other nations, including those who nevertheless refused to join us against Iraq, concurred that Saddam was amassing WMD stockpiles.
This assessment was bolstered by Saddam's intractable behavior in persistently defying U.N. weapons inspectors as if he had something to hide and repeatedly violating U.N. resolutions. He had the burden of proving he had disposed of the WMD he demonstrably had and used on his own people, but instead submitted a bogus 12,000-page document, virtually inviting us to attack.
President Bush believed -- and the evidence confirms -- that Saddam's Iraq was a safe haven for international terrorists not unlike Afghanistan under the Taliban. Credible reports have emerged that some of his henchmen were present at 9-11 planning meetings.
But Democrats contend that our failure to find Saddam's WMD stockpiles after we deposed him proves that President Bush lied about their existence in the first place. President Bush's reliance on the best available intelligence, though it may have turned out to be wrong, doesn't make him a liar or prove that he made a mistake in attacking. He would have made a mistake had he failed to act on the information he had, especially considering Saddam's self-incriminating behavior.
As I've written before, Democrats are the ones who are lying when they say they weren't relying on the very same intelligence in supporting the Iraq war resolution. And they are lying when they falsely accuse President Bush of lying about the intelligence.
Among the worst of them is Sen. Kerry, who still pathetically clings to the fantasy that he can be president someday. In his latest lurch for relevance -- on "Larry King Live" -- he again accused President Bush of deceiving the American people, this time by constantly switching his rationale for attacking Iraq: from WMD, to spreading democracy, to suppressing a "hotbed of terrorism."
But it's Kerry who's doing the misleading. From the very beginning, President Bush's rationale for attacking Iraq was that under Saddam, she was our enemy in the global war on terror and a threat -- indirect and direct -- to our national security. The three reasons Kerry cites are not incompatible, but of a piece. President Bush believed Saddam was amassing WMD and acting in concert with Islamic terrorists. And, he's always had a vision that the spread of freedom and democracy in the Middle East would be a natural antidote to the proliferation of terrorism. That's not why we attacked Iraq, because we are not in the business of gratuitous nation building, but it's a potentially glorious byproduct that we shouldn't underestimate and is certainly consistent with our war aims.
No matter how incapable Kerry's Democrats are of comprehending this, 9-11 confirmed that Islamic radicals throughout the world are at war with the United States. The terrorist threat is not localized to Osama and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Democrats' quixotic refrain that we concentrate our resources only on capturing Saddam reveals how radically they misapprehend the global scope of this war.
Saddam was begging to be removed, and President Bush neither lied nor made a mistake in removing him. But he would be making a catastrophic mistake if he acceded to the Democrats' suicidal demand that we telegraph a withdrawal date for our troops in Iraq or take other action to undermine our cause -- and the cause of the Iraqi people -- there.
While I'm sure President Bush appreciates all their unsolicited advice and carping, Democrats might be well advised to clean up their own house for a change. Instead of gloating over the president's inconsistent poll numbers, they might awaken to the sobering fact that they are the ones who have been losing elections and need help in the credibility department, especially concerning national security.
But until they demonstrate some comprehension of the global reach and gravity of this war, quit exploiting every morsel of negative news flowing from Iraq for political purposes and start supporting our cause, it's hard to envision a scenario where Americans will entrust them with safeguarding our national security.