Sunday, June 8, 2003

Dean: What Did Bush Know, and When Did He Know It?

AP Wire | 06/08/2003 | Dem. Candidates Question Bush on Iraq

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean revived a Watergate-era phrase to raise questions about whether Bush withheld information from Congress: “The question now is going to become, `What did the president know, and when did he know it?’”

I just saw this on C-Span, and it struck me that this was a smart, calculated shift in Governor Dean’s strategy to separate himself from the other Democratic candidates.

This is phase 2 of the post-war strategy kicking in. The conventional wisdom in the democratic race was that a quick victory in Iraq would kill the Dean campaign — after all, the people supporting Dean were doing so because of his opposition to the war, right? When a quick, relatively painless victory was achieved, opposition to the war would be a kiss of death.

Except that didn’t happen. Governor Dean rode the wave of the anti-war movement, but transitioned back to the candidate with a health care plan, the candidate who would speak his mind, the one candidate who would ceaselessly go right after President Bush.

The first phase of the post-war strategy was to lie low, see how things played out. Clearly the revelations this week – that intelligence may have been doctored, that the Bush administration directed conclusions to support their policies — are emboldening those who originally opposed the war. Now Governor Dean can reiterate his opposition to the war (not because war is bad, but because this wasn’t the right war at the right time) — and fold that into a broadside attack on the Bush administration.

Other interesting tidbits in the same AP report:

Rep. Dick Gephardt criticzed the politicization of the WMD search:

“This is about life and death. It’s about keeping this country safe. We cannot have weapons of mass destruction used in this society. And we’ve all got to work together to the best of our ability to achieve that.”

Isn’t that what the Bush administration is saying?

And finally, Carol Moseley-Braun offers up an unfortunate metaphor for the war on Iraq:

“If there’s a crack house down the street from you, and in it are the murderers who killed your brother and your sister-in-law, do you blow up the crack house, or do you go after the murderers?”

As they said on SNL in a Hardball parody, “I don’t even know who that’s offensive to!”

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