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in Iraq, "that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11 that question is increasingly outdated."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."
Rockefeller sidestepped the question and, unwittingly, made another confession. Rockefeller said, "I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11."
Can someone please provide an explanation, or any theory no matter how implausible, to justify such recklessly disloyal statements by a leading member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to foreign leaders? Why did this man undermine our president on foreign soil under color of government authority?
Wallace played an equally damning clip of Rockefeller asserting, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years, and he could have it earlier."
Wallace noted that before making that statement and voting to authorize force in Iraq, Rockefeller had seen the national intelligence estimate, which "indicated there was a disagreement among analysts about (Saddam's) nuclear program." Rockefeller's primary non-answer to the undeniable point that he knew of this disagreement before voting was, "You know, it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops to Iraq."
This is sheer dissembling by Rockefeller, following the lead of Sen. Kerry, who during his presidential campaign concocted the creative canard that his vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq didn't mean what it said. No, we're expected to believe the Democrats understood that President Bush would continue to negotiate ad infinitum and demand more useless U.N. resolutions.
Here the Rockefeller/Democrat foreign policy incoherence is exposed for all to see. They admittedly regarded Saddam's threat to be imminent, yet were unwilling to take preemptive action against Iraq (all the while being on record as having explicitly authorized it), preferring instead to place our very national security in the hands of other corrupt nations and the America-unfriendly United Nations.
They say President Bush is the liar, when they are the ones who voted unconditionally to authorize preemptive action against Iraq and now deny they did, demanding we believe their revisionism instead of our lying eyes. My head is spinning as fast as their talking-point writers.
It's time for the GOP to take its gloves off. This brawl has barely begun.