The Episcopalians are flaming out. Californians dissed their governor and now Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared an economic emergency. Rush Limbaugh broke bad. D.C.-area snipers Muhammad and Malvo have been convicted. Jacko, the self-styled King of Pop, faces trial on seven counts of child molestation. Martha Stewart is headed to trial, too. Perhaps 30,000 Iranians have died in an earthquake. It's Code Orange. And oh, yes - Saddam Hussein is cooling his heels in the slammer.
Still, peacenik Howard Dean - pulling away from the pack - seems headed toward the Democratic presidential nomination. And Democrats generally, from presidential wannabes on down, are saying, "President Bush misled us into war against Saddam on the basis of insufficient information about his possession of, or his efforts to acquire, weapons of mass destruction."
Consider, please, the following - drawn from a September piece on the editorial page of Investor's Business Daily - wherein many of the Usual Suspects are quoted regarding the existence of, and the need to remove, Saddam's WMDs...
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998: "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop WMDs and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998: "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's WMD program."
- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Feb. 18, 1998: "What happens in (Iraq) matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
- Letter to Clinton signed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, etc., Oct. 9, 1998: "We urge you ... to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspected Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its WMD programs."
- Congressman (now House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 16, 1998: "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Sen. Bob Graham and other Democratic senators in a letter to President Bush, Dec. 5, 2001: "There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status."
- Sen. Levin, Sept. 19, 2002: "We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building WMDs and the means of delivering them."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002: "We know that (Saddam) has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2002: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing WMDs."
- Sen. Robert Byrd, Oct. 3, 2002: "We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Kerry, Oct. 9, 2002: "I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of WMDs in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Kerry, Jan. 23, 2003: "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real."
Many of the usual suspects recently attacking President Bush and declaring smugly, "I insistently have dismissed the phony claims of Saddam's WMDs as a justification for war against him," have eagerly ridden the WMD bandwagon all along. Comes now Howard Dean, in his way trying to clamber aboard. In October he blasted the president on Iraq, telling The New York Times he opposed the American invasion last spring and promising that if president he (a) would cut the number of American troops in Iraq by half and (b) would send President Clinton to the Middle East to broker peace.
Dean added: (1) "Great countries ... get in trouble when they overstretch their military capabilities," and (2) "What this president is doing is setting the stage for the failure of America."
"Setting the stage for failure"? If so, the record shows that President Bush had considerable help and encouragement from Dean and his fellow suspects in ideological crime.