Why Aren't Democrats Challenging Bush on Iran?
I wanted to circle back on a set of stories I first posted last night. The Post ran a Page One this morning detailing that Bush, Cheney, Rice, and others were told that the mobile trailers story was garbage but kept peddling this claim for a year. Colin Powell told journalist Robert Scheer on Monday that he (Powell) knew that both the aluminum tubes story and the Niger uranium stories were garbage, yet it was all Cheney’s doing that the claims were pushed anyway into a justification for the war. I have said this before and I will say it again. Assuming that these stories are true, Bush lied to Congress when he certified that war was necessary in March 2003.
I bring this up because of what we are now hearing from the administration on Iran. The Democrats have yet to draw a line in the sand against any administration war drive this fall. You will remember that there were signs in the spring and summer of 2002 that the administration was gunning for Iraq as a midterm election diversionary tactic, yet the Democratic leadership didn’t use the summer recess to set the negatives on the administration’s record or lack of credibility. As a result, by the time that Congress came back from recess in August, as Andy Card said, the White House was able to roll out its new product just before the midterms, and the Democrats were unable to push back effectively against the war resolution just before the election for fear of being labeled weak on national security less than a year after 9/11. Yet here we are again, four years later, with the White House beating the drums even louder and earlier, and still there is no Democrat out there directly challenging the Bush war drive on Iran, and labeling the GOP as the permanent war party that is inept on national security.
Condi this morning was the latest to make the Iran threats, albeit behind the futile UN option. This is coming from a woman who facilitated the last war of choice based on lies to the American people. Yet no Democrat goes directly after Condi and her lack of credibility. Why is it so hard for a national Democrat, even one who isn’t up for election this year, to go after the White House now for its war drumming on Iran and its lies on Iraq, especially against the backdrop of increasing fatalities amongst American troops this month?
Look, the GOP needs to drum up a war to survive this fall. The House immigration bill is scaring GOP incumbents to death because it is the only official position of the GOP as we head into the fall election. The Washington Post poll from yesterday shows that on a wide range of issues, Democrats are favored over the GOP. Bush’s health care agenda is already DOA, and momentum is building against his tax initiatives (registration required). And as for Iraq, things will not turn around there between now and November. In fact, if Seymour Hersh is correct in what he said to Terry Gross on NPR this morning, we are opposing the continuation of Prime Minister al-Jaafiri’s tenure not because he is sanctioning Shiite militias, but because he has told us privately that when he gets a new term, one of the first things he will do is to call for us to leave Iraq. Can you imagine the damage to the GOP this summer if the Iraqi government has demanded we leave, and Bush and the GOP must defend their reluctance and failures in the heat of a midterm election campaign?
So why in hell is it so difficult for any national Democrat to take Bush on over Iran, and use the war drive as the opportunity to remind voters of a similar campaign four years ago? Due to Bush and Cheney’s criminal negligence and stubbornness, we have few good options to deal with Iran, except to talk with them directly. What political harm is there in reminding voters that Bush has botched the handling of Iran to the point that our only good choice is direct talks?