The Philadelphia Inquirer's top political reporter, Dick Polman, has an interesting piece today about how more Democrats are (finally) admitting they were wrong in supporting the Iraq War, and that they were misled by the Bush administration. In the piece, I make the argument - much like I made here on this site - that Democrats can hammer the administration for deliberately misleading the country about intelligence before the war. Yet, as usual, the inside-the-beltway strategist/pundit crowd is saying that's not possible.
For instance, we get this obligatory comment from Charlie "I've Made My Entire Career Off Of Stating the Obvious Or the Conventional" Cook: "If [Democrats] push the argument that they have been duped, fooled and victimized - well, to a lot of [independent swing] voters, they're just going to come across as weak." Cook, per the norm, doesn't back this up with any actual hard analysis or data - and conveniently ignores polls that show a majority of the American public believes the country was "intentionally misled" by the Bush administration before the war. Additionally, he takes the question and makes it into a straw man: who is saying Democrats should say they were "victimized?" No one - except for Charlie Cook in order for him to make an inane argument. People are instead arguing that Democrats should be outraged that the country was deliberately misled about the most important issue of all: war and peace. That's quite different from arguing they were "victimized."
Then we get a quote from the Democratic Leadership Council's Marshall Wittman. You remember Wittman - he's the former Christian Coalition official who now runs around pretending to be a Democratic strategist. Wittman says that Democrats cannot argue that they were deliberately misled because that is "Michael Moore territory." Apparently, though as mentioned above - polls show a majority of Americans must be in "Michael Moore territory" because a majority of Americans believe the Bush administration misled the country.
And let's be clear - the perception that we were misled is consistent with the actual facts of what happened. As Christy Harvey and I detailed in a 2004 article, the Bush administration was repeatedly warned not to make the key assertions it was making about Iraq, and instead went forward with those assertions anyway. Politically and morally, Democrats should be demanding answers to why that happened, and why the administration chose to ignore intelligence THEY KNEW debunked their claims.
Here's a good idea for Democrats in Congress - ignore D.C.'s professional B.S. artists that for too long have kept you from having a cogent, strong, and sharp message on Iraq. Your goal is not to appease these Beltway cocktail party icons - your goal is to represent the majority of Americans who want answers, and the fact is, you've lost enough elections flapping about trying to have it both ways on the issue, as these professional election losers seem to prescribe. It's time to make bold statements like some Democrats recently made, and time to take bold actions like Harry Reid recently took and demand answers to why this country was misled. The fact that you were misled should only embolden your outrage to make Iraq and the lies that surrounded it a central issue in 2006 and 2008, whether you wrongly voted for the war or not.