December 10, 2005

The "white flag" commercial.

What do you think of the GOP's new "white flag" commercial? I imagine it's horrifying to Democrats and utterly devastating to Senator Kerry, whom we see saying:
There's no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children ... uh, uh, uh ... you know, women...
I note that the stammering was probably caused by Kerry's realization that he'd just said "kids and children" rather than "women and children" and that it had messed up what he'd meant as a profound attack. Or do you think he actually regretted saying "terrorizing" when referring to our soldiers?

I think the commercial is very powerful and effective. It gave me chills. Every word of it, every clip, is perfectly chosen to send the message that the Republicans in fact waited far too long to send.


Dave said...

Any ad that hits hard at Democrats is a good one.

Now I want to see liberal secularists hit back at the anti-sciende/materialist fundies that have hijacked public debate in this country.

That likely will not happen, though, as the Democrats are a woefully fractious bunch of infighting floozies.

Mark said...

I think the commercial is pretty desperate and, if anything, will backfire on the Republicans. When you take away all the spin of the commercial (white flag and all), the end result is that Democrats are not happy with the Iraq war. Well, here's the news: so are 60% of the Americans, and even higher percentage of Independents.
Of course, I may not be objective in characterizing this commercial, but my opinion is it's a pretty silly one.

Kramerica5 said...

And here I thought you weren't just another partisan...

Is this commercial really the way to conduct a constructive debate about what we need to do in Iraq?

Here's another commercial idea: String together the Administration's pre-war statements ("we don't want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud"; "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction"; the aluminum tubes "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs"; etc.; etc.), as well as some of the idiotic things said during the war ("mission accomplished"; "bring 'em on" (!); "last throes"; etc.; etc.).

Pretty useless but a helluva way to pick up some political points, huh? For someone who prides herself on staying above the fray, not being partisan, and advocating reasoned debate, I'm truly surprised at this post.

David said...

Great Commercial which was long overdue. Interesting that when Dean, Pelosi,Murtha, Boxer, etc., are called on to explain what they obviously said and mean, they claim they were taken out of context or misunderstood.

I wonder if subconsciously Kerry is suffering guilt for some of his swiftboat operations by mentioning terrorizing kids...

This is huge and may cost the Democrats seats in the 2006 elections.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq the elections proceed!

Mark said...

Well, Bush said that the we cannot win the war on terror in 2004. He later backtracked, of course. I guess Democrats can put a great commercial, with some dour picture of Bush saying we can't win the war on terror and then pointing out all the flawed/manipulated intelligence, number of deaths, unabashing violence in Iraq, and one giant question: For What?

Elliott said...

Something very creepy and Coulterish about the way Ann says it gives her chills. Ann Althouse - the thinking person's Ann Coulter.

Mark said...

Why do you think 80% of Iraqis want us to leave immediately? Partially, because Kerry is right about these night raids. There's nothing wrong with the term "terrorizing" the way Kerry used it, and he's absolutely right. What a cheap political shot.
I love it when Ann says that it's "utterly devastating" to Kerry. It's utterly devastating to whatever credibility supporters of this commercial have on the war.

wildaboutharrie said...

Actually, I really don't think that commercial is all that powerful. No Murtha? It leaves you wondering why. Pelosi wasn't saying anything that shocking. The Kerry quote is just confusing, but not freakish. They should have just stuck with the Dean quote. The flag image is a good choice, and the soldier watching is a good touch. Plus the message about the enemy watching.

But when it says Our country is at war, I think a common reaction will be "yes, we know, and we know how we got there, and we know how it's being conducted".

From Ann's post, I thought it was going to be devestating. I actually did do my absolute best to watch this with untainted eyes, by the way.

The Tiger said...

I think it is very effective for those at whom it is targeted -- people who voted for George W. Bush last fall for reasons of foreign policy.

It reminds me why I can't see myself voting Democrat any time soon, even though the present bunch of Republicans are very unimpressive.

Mark said...


you are probably the most objective person on this thread about the Iraq war, so it's heartening that you find the commercial weak. I doubt that any independents will find it powerful; and I actually doubt Republicans will run it on TV networks. Instead, they'll use it for fundraising purposes by firing up their base.

Dave said...

So, if Ann Althouse is thinking person's Ann Coulter, who is the thinking person's Ann Althouse?

That's an inane comparison if every there was one.

Mark said...

Inane as it may be, but on the Iraq war, there's not that much difference between Ann Coulter and Ann Althouse. ;)

Art said...

I'm shocked the Republicans are going after Howard Dean without invoking the name of Michael Moore in same sentence. So much for preserving their reputation for rhetorical overkill.
Maybe someone's noticed that Moore supported Wes Clark, not Howard Dean.

Jimmy said...

The Democrats shouldn't be framing their proposals as "retreating". If they were more politically savvy they would declare that the goals of the war have been achieved and it's time to end the war.

The Democrats ought to be saying we've overthrown Saddam, established a nascent democratic government and sent a message to third-world dictators that if they mess with us we will retaliate. What more is there to do?

Declare victory and put up a "mission accomplished" banner. Attack Bush for keeping our troops in Iraq needlessly. This way the Republicans will be pushed into defending a continuation of the occcupation by citing the problems in Iraq.

As soon as they do this accuse the Republicans of being "defeatist", sapping troop morale, giving comfort to our enemies and making America look bad to the world.

The talking points should, "We won the Iraq War, now bring the troops home to celebrate."

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not partisan. I dislike both parties. And I'm not aligned with any other Republican policies. But I do strongly believe in supporting a war effort that is in progress, and I think the anti-war attacks are hurting that effort. Why don't you call me a partisan when I support abortion rights and gay marriage and oppose the death penalty -- all of which I've done recently on this blog? Do you consider Joe Lieberman a Republican partisan? Is there no longer even the concept of a liberal hawk? Pathetic! Those of you who are calling me partisan are resorting to name-calling because you have no argument, because you think of politics solely in terms of the war, or because you just don't know a damned thing about me and don't mind displaying your ignorance.

erp said...

I suppose the ad was focus-grouped and found effective, but while I think the sound bites are excellent, I don't think a lot of people will understand the white flag means the dems are surrendering to terrorists.

It could very look like we're surrendering to their bizarro message.

We need better media people on our team.

Mark said...

I agree. Except Democrats are not framing their position as "retreating", it's Republican talking points parrotted by the MSM that characterize Democrats' position as retreating.
If one actually reads or listens to what Democrats are saying (instead of listening to this cheap commercial), what Democrats are saying is exactly what you said: we achieved victory and we should think of getting out since military did it job. That's what Murtha said, almost verbatim. Of course, it won't stop Republicans from demagoging the Democrats' position.

David said...

The Democrats ran off the cliff like Wiley E. Coyote and were hovering there until the "white flag" commercial invoked the laws of physics.

As we watch the defeatist wing of the democratic party hurtle to their ignominius and inevitable hard landing, I will watch to see cooler heads prevail in the form of Joe Lieberman.

By the way, there are two wars on terrorism, not one. There is the overall war as in 'global jihad' and the diversionary war in Iraq between the 'land of the two rivers.'

Speaking of WMD, did it ever occur to the defeat and retreat bunch that they were smuggled out of Iraq into the Hezbollah controlled Bekaa Valley and/or Iran? North Korea? Even if we can't prove it yet is it worth the risk to assume otherwise?

Ann Althouse said...

The reason Dean, Pelosi, and Kerry appear is because they represent the leadership of the Democratic Party. The criticism could be the omission of Harry Reid, perhaps, but I think many people wouldn't even recognize him. I agree that Pelosi isn't that bad. Kerry's "confusion"? That's not a minor thing. It's one of the main reasons he lost the election.

I also think the white flag itself is rather cheesy, but it's not really inaccurate. The Democrats really do seem to be saying we should give up, and it's fair to call them on it. They are hurting the war effort. I think it's surprising that there is so little outrage expressed about that. I think the supporters of the war held back too long and let too many people be influenced by the anti-war rhetoric. That caused the poll numbers to go down, and the counter-rhetoric has sent the numbers back up. It's bad that people are so susceptible to the rhetoric (of both sides), but the war supporters cannot keep quiet. They have to participate in the fight for public opinion.

The comparison of me to Ann Coulter is just stupid. Astute of you to notice we have the same first name.

Elliott said...

You are also both blond, both given to playing the victim while attacking, both gleeful in the use of power (haven't commented on the Miami airport shooting, but I remember your take on Menezes in London), and both hacks.

Jimmy said...

I agree. Except Democrats are not framing their position as "retreating", it's Republican talking points parrotted by the MSM that characterize Democrats' position as retreating."

The Democrats are definitely in a deafeatist attitude and I don't think the American people will ever support defeatist politicians (even if they themselves feel defeatist).

Dean said we can never win the war so we should leave. Murtha's speech was pure sentiment. He is giving the impression that he is no longer supporting the war because he cannot bear to see more troops get wounded and more families in grief. Many Democrats, including Kerry are arguing that we have become imperialist.

The Democrats should use the next Iraqi election as an opening to launch their "We won, lets bring our troops home" campaign. Democrats should be jubilant about the victory and instead of expressing concern, they should express puzzlement about the continued occupation. What is the continuing rationale for the occupation? The point is to make the Republicans defend the occupation by pointing out the problems in Iraq. Then attack them for being pessimistic and defeatist.

Mark said...

Where's Kerry's confusion in the ad? He's not the most profound speaker but the point that he is quoted as making is fair. The commercial is obviously intent on making people outraged about the term "terrorizing" in the context of US troops, but it takes literally 3 seconds to understand what Kerry meant to say.

Democrats do not want to "give up". This phrase is meaningless. What does it mean? Give up to whom? What's the victory? I argue, as many do, that the US achieved all it could have achieved militarily and now is time to give the country back to Iraqis. They want us to leave, 80% of them do. Why should we stay in the country against the will of the overwhelming majority of the country?

The point about hurting the war effort has been argued here so many times; it's hard to find something new to say. Some will always believe that the criticism of the President harms the war effort; many leading Americans of all ages thought that dissent in time of war must never be restricted. These are just two different philosophical positions that probably cannot be reconciled.

Of course Ann Althouse and Ann Coulter are completely different on probably 80% of the issues, but it's fair to say that their views on the war are very similar. No offense.

Joe Baby said...

Yeah, the white flag turns me off, although using politicians words against them is universally delicious.

Kramerica5 said...

"Why don't you call me a partisan when I support abortion rights and gay marriage and oppose the death penalty...?"

Because you don't uncritically post links to NARAL or ACLU ads to express that support.

"Do you consider Joe Lieberman a Republican partisan?"

No, just completely irrelevant.

"Is there no longer even the concept of a liberal hawk?"

Yes, of course (I consider myself one), but I'm not sure how the ad you linked to supports that claim. Liberal hawks -- John Murtha or George Packer, for instance -- can and should be critical of how this war has been waged in order to make it successful. And if that means talking about a phased redeployment (Murtha here, not Packer) -- which, it should be pointed out, the Administration itself has been doing! -- then let's have that discussion on the merits. The last thing we need are more 30 second ads that don't even attempt to elevate the discussion.

"Those of you who are calling me partisan are resorting to name-calling because you have no argument..."

You link to an ad put out by the RNC that lacks any real substance, and WE have no argument?

"...because you think of politics solely in terms of the war..."

Not solely. But call me crazy -- it's a pretty important political issue.

"...or because you just don't know a damned thing about me..."

And yet, here we are, reading your blog, which is ostensibly about you and your beliefs. I would never insult you by saying I know who you are, but as a long-time and avid reader, I think I'm relatively familiar with your opinions (at least those you've discussed on this blog).

"...and don't mind displaying your ignorance."

It's interesting that you think calling someone partisan is "name-calling." But calling someone -- a reader of yours no less -- stupid? Hmmm.

Joe Baby said...

Not sure if Dems want to give up -- their alternatives are incoherent, however. Leave Iraq for an unnamed middle east country to better fight Zarqawi? Wha?

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: Wildaboutharrie wrote "The Kerry quote is just confusing." I was responding to that. Maybe she didn't mean Kerry was confused. Maybe he had total clarity and was just confusing us. I know it is said that he is a man of great nuance and perhaps with his superior intellect he gets out in front of us. I concede I failed to see the shades of meaning in "kids and children." Perhaps it was quite profound.

Gahrie said...

A better commercial would juxtapose current Democrat comments about Iraq with the comments Democrats made in 1973-1975 about Vietnam. In betweeen each pair of comments would be a shot of the Vietnamese fleeing South Vietnam on leaky boats, the communist re-education camps, and Pol Pot's killing fields. Maybe end it with a Vietnamese-American making a comment like "You abandoned us and allowed a holocaust to happen, don't do the same to the Iraqis."

How can we be so short sighted as to forget what democratic defeatism created thirty years ago?

Mark said...


The idea that Vietnam war was winnable were it not for loss of domestic support has been repeatedly debunked by mainstream historians. I don't even think most Americans that the Vietnam war was winnable. Any ad bringing up Vietnam war will backfire; that war was not popular by any stretch of imagination.


Ok, if you want to argue that Kerry is not the most eloquent speaker, I readily concede. However, isn't "kids vs children" a relatively minor point here? If you want call THIS a confusion, fine. My overall point was that Kerry's remark is fair and the attack for him using "terrorizing" is unfair.

wildaboutharrie said...

Ann - I think Kerry sounded befuddled, sure, but more importantly, his quote will be confusing to listeners. I think the response will be "What is he referring to?" And some (small percentage) will try to find the context, and everyone else will just move on. I think also that many will write off Kerry as an easy target as opposed to someone who holds much sway any more (though I may be wrong...but losers lose cachet pretty quickly).

It's a tricky issue - how to talk about HOW to oppose the war without appearing to attack dissent in general.

Mark said...


It's a tricky question, to be sure. But I thought that many on this thread think that Democrats (or anyone) should not be opposing the war AT ALL once it's started since it "harms the troops," "is defeatist," bla bla bla. I don't see how anyone can dissent from the war if he/she is immediately labeled as harming the war effort, playing into enemy's hands, etc. This position logically leads to prohibiting all dissent during the war. Some people think that's a valid goal, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Mark said...
...all the flawed/manipulated intelligence, number of deaths, unabashing violence in Iraq, and one giant question: For What?

For what?

The mere fact that you ask that question means that you are blind to any possible alternative to bringing troops home without regard to reason or existing task.

Having a democratic and capitalist Iraq (albeit an Islamic verion, what with no interest on loans and cultural business variations) will have a profound effect on neighboring countries IF they see Iraq holding up. Even a tripartate Iraq, with a massively successful Kurdish area, would still function quite well.

Nor would we have seen Syria pull its troops and gestapo from Lebanon had we not been sitting with our military right on Syria's doorstep.

Further, we would not end up being forced into invading Iraq (time costing money) later, having flushed all the Al Queda dreamers out of Afghanistan. They were going to go somewhere, so might as well have had troops on hand to meet them at their new location.

Nor can we forget that while no WMD were found, Bush did lay out multiple reasons for invading (while pushing the reason that would motivate the selfish people: WMD). Apparently, if it's nukes, some Americans get concerned cause that can actually affect their having a pleasant day ("What, this fallout is ruining my Starbucks!"), but saving a nation from a brutal dictator and raising a country's standard of living is just so unworthy.

Again, wars are never fought for one reason, nor can a war be judged by the number of deaths or violence. That's like deciding the quality of a cake by the number of ingredients. Sometimes it takes a lot, sometimes not.

As for flawed intelligence... what was the countervailing argument at THAT time? Nations like France (and others) were suggesting we wait and let inspectors continue their 10 years of inspections, but no national leadership anywhere was suggesting Iraq had nothing. And in light of that do nothing policy, where Saddam was bribing UN members, and hoping to restart research after having sanctions lifted, what good would that alternative path have ultimately achieved? We would be kicking Saddam's derriere two to seven years from now, at greater cost in lives and money.

The commercial itself is unfortunate, but necessary, in a world where the Democrats have essentially co-opted the administration's Iraq policy, but phrased parts of it (the troops coming home part) more vividly, leaving the impression that they would be doing something entirely different. Press them, and they hedge and say, "Well, home immediately, as soon as, you know, we are capable of doing so." At least Hillary, who I kind of loathe, is placing her verbal comments in line with the policies she knows she would have to implement.

Gahrie said...

1) The "historians" who have debunked the idea of a victory in Vietnam are almost exclusively the same idiots who were out there in the streets protesting the war. What other result would they have come up with?

2) We won every battle in the Vietnamese war. The Vietcong was destroyed. We could have destroyed the North Vietnamese army if the politicians had allowed the military to. Even after we cut and run, we could have prevented the holocaust by keeping our promise to support the South Vietnamese army with air support if and when they were attacked by North Vietnam.

3)In the America I live in, most people resent the fact that the politicians and MSM did not allow us to win the Vietnamese war.

Mark said...


You can believe whatever you want to believe. If you cavalierly dismiss all historical evidence as you do, good for you, I guess. You would have spent 10 more years in Vietnam, losing tens of thousands more of lives of Americans, probably millions more of Vietnamese lives, risking the nuclear war with China or USSR, etc etc. Whatever.

Mark said...


"The commercial itself is unfortunate, but necessary, in a world where the Democrats have essentially co-opted the administration's Iraq policy, but phrased parts of it (the troops coming home part) more vividly, leaving the impression that they would be doing something entirely different. Press them, and they hedge and say, "Well, home immediately, as soon as, you know, we are capable of doing so." At least Hillary, who I kind of loathe, is placing her verbal comments in line with the policies she knows she would have to implement."

Let me get this straight. You believe the commercial misrepresents the Democratic position (bc you call it "unfortunate" and explain how Democrats do not want cut and run as the commercial suggests). Nevertheless, you proclaim it's necessary for essentially political purposes (bc Democrats coopted Republicans' position).

So, in the essence, you support airing a dishonest commercial which you know misrepresents Democratic position.
I congratulate you on taking such a very intellectually honest position.

Elliott said...

You live in a very strange world. Maybe 9/11 changed everything, but look at this poll:

In 2000, 69% felt the Vietnam War was a mistake.

wildaboutharrie said...

Finn: "Nor can we forget that while no WMD were found, Bush did lay out multiple reasons for invading..."

We've been through this, but in a search on all speeches and presentations given by the President, VP, Cheney, Rice, and Powell, there is only one mention of a reason other than WMD that I or others (who support the war) could find - the 2003 State of the Union, which has one short paragraph on SH and torture, within many, many paragraphs on WMD. So this doesn't hold.

"(while pushing the reason that would motivate the selfish people: WMD). Apparently, if it's nukes, some Americans get concerned cause that can actually affect their having a pleasant day ("What, this fallout is ruining my Starbucks!"), but saving a nation from a brutal dictator and raising a country's standard of living is just so unworthy."

Is this a trial balloon for how to defend the misuse of intelligence? Back to the drawing board.

HaloJonesFan said...

>If you cavalierly dismiss all
>historical evidence as you do,
>good for you, I guess.

Pot calling the kettle black, here.

elliott: You talk some pretty vicious shit for someone with no email, no blog, and a private Blogger profile.

PatCA said...

I think the commerical is tremendous as well as an accurate depiction of the Democratic position. If this war is going to be fought in the media--and obviously the other side recognized this long ago--then let's have both sides taking their shots and not cede the field to the opposition, which has now devolved (see commenters here) into personal insults against the hawks and a fashionable air of despair and ennui for themselves.

I'm only sorry they waited so long to fight back, but maybe this was planned: give the Dems enough rope, and they will hang themselves.

Gahrie, I have a feeling that the Vietnam commercial is surely next in line.

Gahrie said...

Mark- My name isn't that hard to get right...

1) We were winning in Vietnam. Yes people die in wars, but far fewer porportionally were dying in Vietnam than died in Korea or WW II, and far too many of our casualties were caused by restrictions imposed by politicians worried that exactly what happened (the undermining of support by the MSM and politicians) would happen.

2) There was no risk of a nuclear exchange. Believe it or not, MAD worked, and both the USSR and the PRC saw Vietnam as a minor skirmish, not a vital national interest. That you would suggest a nuclear exchange was possible over Vietnam just shows how out of touch with reality you are.

3)We betrayed both the Vietnamese, the American people, and our military by what we did in 1975, and to my shame it was a Republican president who allowed it to happen. We went back on our word, and abandoned an ally.

4) History is written by the winners. Unfortunately, up to now the war for control of our universities has been won by the communists, hippies and general America haters. It's not surprising that they are trying to write history to reinforce their views, and impose revisionist history on us to "correct" the history written before their control.

Wade_Garrett said...

I think its another cheap shot against Kerry, though its probably legitimate to run against the Democrats in general. I'm a Democrat, and I think there's enough to criticize about my party's handling of the way without resorting to cheap shots!

If the Democrats ran an ad of George Bush stammering away, they'd be attacked all over the place. He's not that stupid, etc.

Elliott said...

Ann "gets chills" at a dishonest, partisan attack is why I talk vicious sh*t about her. I've said it before. I don't know Ann except by what she writes. I formed my opinion of her from that.

Tom T. said...

"Of course Ann Althouse and Ann Coulter are completely different on probably 80% of the issues, but it's fair to say that their views on the war are very similar. No offense."

Of course Mark and Saddam Hussein are completely different on probably 80% of the issues, but it's fair to say that their views on the war are very similar. No offense.

My point, of course, is that if one is protesting the way one's opponents demonize one's views, it's rhetorically unpersuasive to then demonize one's opponents in the same breath.

SWBarns said...

Sheesh Ann, all this time I have thought you as a prowar leftie and now I find the truth: you and and Ann Coulter are the same person. Come to think of it I have never seen the two of you together, Q.E.D.

Aspasia M. said...

From a rhetorical point of view, the RNC did a good job with the ad. With Bush at around 40%, it's one of the few strategies the RNC can use to stop the bleeding. Kerry, Dean, and Pelosi should be careful not to throw red meat to Karl Rove.

Kerry is almost always annoying, and if he was running for office, this would be a good ad to use against him.

This ad will be run on TV news shows like FOX, but this isn't an election season, so I doubt the RNC will pay money to run it on the airwaves.

The problem with the ad is that Kerry is not running for office right now. Pelosi is in a safe seat. Dean is not running for anything.

If the polls for Congress stay this low it's going to be all about the incumbent.

Mark said...


Sorry for misspelling your name.
I decline to re-argue Vietnam with you. It's utterly useless and our positions won't change. I again point out that it's overwhelming consensus by society and historians that this was the wrong war and it was unwinnable. This is not only the consensus in the united states, but throughout the world. There's not a single serious historian who believes that the United States could have won militarily in Iraq. To win militarily, the US would have had to committ many more troops and most likely, use nuclear weapons. Any use of nuclear weapons would have risked China's getting involved. Contrary to what you say, China did not see Vietnam as a minor skirmish and was actively involved in Vietnam, providing military and logistical support. The USSR also had tens of thousands military advisers in North Vietnam and actively supported North Vietnamese. It's truly amazing how out of touch with reality you are.

As evidenced by the poll that elliott cited, 69% of Americans think that the Vietnam war was wrong. Therefore, any commercial seeking to blame Democrats for defeat in the Vietnam war won't go well with 69% of Americans and probably 90% of independents.

Gahrie said...

1) Fighting a war by proxie in Vietnam is orders of magnitude different from launching a nuclear exchange over said proxie. The USSR and the PRC were not irrational regimes at that time.

2) I think the Vietnam was was wrong. It just so happens that my reasons for thinking so are 100% different from yours. I think it was wrong because of the way we fought it, not because we fought it. Do you know how the question was worded?

3) I don't blame only the Democrats for the Vietnam debacle. I place as much blame on the MSM and some blame on spineless Republicans. Remember it was Pres. Nixon who ultimately made the betrayal.

Mark said...

Tom T:

First, I wouldn't equate Ann Coulter with Saddam as you do. Pointing out that Ann's views on the war coincide with the views of one of the most partisan pundits on the right is far cry from comparing my position on the war with Saddam's.

Second, you are substantively wrong, as my position on the Iraq war is not nearly similar to Saddam's. I supported all the US policies on Iraq except for the military invasion in spring of 2003. If done right (i.e., building of real international coalition, proper preparation, absence of politicking), I probably would have supported the war in Iraq. So, your comment is very rhetorically unpersuasive.

Aspasia M. said...

Right-wing talk show hosts have been calling Democrats traitors, questioning their patriotism, ect.

While I think this is a cheap shot, I also think it rallies the base of the Democratic party.

This kind of attack is going to rally the Democratic base, not depress it for the 2006 elections.

EddieP said...

You lefties here spout all the bad things that you think Bush did in leading to the invasion. Why is it that you studiously avoid the fact that Saddam lied. WMD were not the only reason, but they were key to Congress' approval. Saddam did his best to convince the world that he still had the WMD. Why?

There are thousands of rounds of chemical weapons that the UN had already certified existed and they disappeared. If Saddam had told the truth, we wouldn't be having this debate. Even if Bush had wanted to go to war, which no president does, the Congress would never have authorized it.

Be against the war if you will, but at least be honest as to the many reasons for it.

Incidently, I loved the commercial. The fact that you are squealing so hard proves to me it was just right!

Saddam lied, many people died. Regards

Aspasia M. said...


I don't think we should rely on nasty dictators to tell us the truth about their weapons.

I expect my country to rely on our own intel.

Elliott said...


The exact wording of the question is in the article. There are other polls showing even worse results, but with wording that could be much more ambiguous since they would conflate dissatisfaction with the war and dissatisfaction with the outcome. I don't think you can avoid that entirely, but this was the best wording I saw in a quick search.

Mark said...


Terrible as he is, it turns out that Saddam was probably telling the truth about WMDs. He said that he got rid of them. The sticking point was that he could not provide documentation proving it; although he claimed that no such documentation was ever created. So, no matter how terrible, disgusting, whatever Saddam is, it looks like he was telling the truth about the WMDs.

APF said...

"I note that the stammering was probably caused by Kerry's realization that he'd just said "kids and children" rather than "women and children" and that it had messed up what he'd meant as a profound attack. Or do you think he actually regretted saying "terrorizing" when referring to our soldiers?"

For some reason people seem to think Kerry is this great speaker, when the reality is he crumbles when he goes off-script and has to speak extemporaneously, even for a second. Bush, of course, is horrible both on and off -script, but actually comes across as clever or even wise in one-on-one encounters (watch Alexandra Pelosi's "Journeys with George" for examples, it's SHOCKING).

The ad itself I didn't really appreciate--I think we need less clich├ęd attack ads aimed for the base, and would argue that the White House's "pushback" efforts, publishing press-releases on their website are far more persuasive/useful. I also never found the "argument" that both our soldiers and our enemies are "watching"--and so therefore anti-war folks aren't allowed to say they hate the war?--very compelling in and of itself. I understand that there's a level of, "stop being so careless/cynical with what you're saying when our guys are risking death," but arguing down this path seems to lead to more static (anti-war folks argue they're saving lives by petitioning for troop withdrawal, and then we're at an impasse). I'd suggest there should be more honest criticism and debate on the whole than what I tend to see around the 'sphere and etc, but that's never gotten me anywhere.

Gahrie said...

And yet again the left is more willing to believe a murdeous dictator than they are an American president........

Saddam can now enter the pantheon with Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro and Ortega.....

Troy said...

Ann... I'm not sure as to how you get pegged as a righty. The Comments seem to be overwhelmingly anti-ad which shows you either have DNC plants like Mark or your readership is not nearly as conservative as you get blamed for.

The white flag -- of course it's cheesy. I would've preferred a tail out of Dean's backside tucked between his legs or the Chicken Dance playing in the background would've been perfect.

Americans, generally, don't like wusses -- and Dean is an upper crust New York (now Vermonter)fancy boy and not a real fighter. I know I know Kerry, Murtha. Service is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't necessarily indicate honesty, wisdom and integrity or even courage all the time every time. In short -- veteran status is not some talismanic King's X. I'll listen to Kerry and Murtha more closely because of it, but I am not morally estopped from thinking they're crazy and wrong.

sonicfrog said...

Mark wrote:

"I agree. Except Democrats are not framing their position as "retreating", it's Republican talking points parrotted by the MSM that characterize Democrats' position as retreating."

The Dems are framing the war as a failure. When a military campaign fails, what do you do? Either stay too long and soldiers die a needless death, or you retreat and fight another day. The Dems keep using the wrong approach, i.e. "we CAN"T / WON'T win so lets pull out". The message is SOOOOO pessimistic. And just because 60% of a largely underinformed public is not happy with the war, that does not equate to pulling out before the Iraqi government can hold their own. Hell, the public should NEVER be happy with war.

Sorry for misspellings. Breakfast is on the table so must eat NOW.

Goatwhacker said...

Wildaboutharrie: We've been through this, but in a search on all speeches and presentations given by the President, VP, Cheney, Rice, and Powell, there is only one mention of a reason other than WMD that I or others (who support the war) could find - the 2003 State of the Union, which has one short paragraph on SH and torture, within many, many paragraphs on WMD. So this doesn't hold.

I have to disagree with you here. It took me about 30 seconds to google this speech, which clearly gives other reasons to remove Saddam Hussein: here

I could probably come up with some more but I'm not inclined to sift through a bunch of speeches.

Where I do agree is that the WMD issue was by far the main issue Bush used to justify the war, and he was wrong. That he was wrong is a moot point in the decision of how to manage the war, as we now have a moral responsibility to help the Iraqis who have thrown their lot with us to leave them a reasonably safe and peaceful Iraq. We should leave when their elected leaders tell us to and not rely on polls to make that decision.

TopCat said...


As you probably gathered from my comments in the past, I am a registered Republican and generally conservative. I think electing John Kerry President would have been a disaster, the man he most reminds me of is Maj. Frank Burns from the old TV show MASH.

That said, I have sympathy for the devil with this one quote. Kerry has been mendacious about the war thousands of times, but in this specific instance he was talking from the heart and (I think) sincerely believes we have not transferred midnight police raids fast enough to the Iraqi's we are standing up.

I see this as the flip side of the Tom Delay trial in Texas -- he is another man who, if he has never crossed the legal line, has walked up to it and leaned over as far as humanly possible, but I don't thik he is guilty of a crime with the charges the Austin DA has brought.

EddieP said...


We did rely on our intelligence. It apparently was wrong. Still not conclusively proven though.


Saddam did his best to thwart the inspectors during the last chance period in 2002. Is that not proof he was lying or at least obfuscating? The UN had documented the existence, we gave him 6 months to dump them. The fact that he "lost" the documentation doesn't stir me. He had 'em or he was bluffing, either way he was a goner if he didn't come up with some answers.

Regards to you both

wildaboutharrie said...

Thank you, Goat, my mistake - I missed that one. But it is still very, very heavy on wmd and terrorism and very light on other justifications.

I agree with your last paragraph. I wish the President would say it. There is no shame in admitting an error (and focusing almost entirely on WMDs was a gamble that they obviously expected would pay off), but hedging and hoping it will go away is an enormous waste. I also wish the Democrats (besides Lieberman and a few others) would say the same.

TopCat said...


I wish the opponents of the war would be as candid and anti-cherry picking as they criticise the Administration for. An honest debate would acknowledge that while WMD's were a sincere charge honestly made, they were not our primary motivation for taking out a meglomaniacal tyrant. They were, like getting Al Copone on tax evasion, the most salable/provable charge to the international jury at the UN. Go back and read the Congressional Resolution authorizing the war on October 10,2002 and you will see a listing of our charges that included much more than just WMD's.

TopCat said...

P.S. as for those that argue Saddam was telling the truth about WMD's, you miss how badly the USA got rolled at the UN on this issue. The burden of proof was not on the UN or US to prove he had WMD's, it was on him, analogous to a parole violator, to prove he had disposed of the WMD's we had previously seen, touched and catalogued in his possession. This he adamatly refused to do; even that pecksniff Hans Blix admitted as much. This will be my last re-rehash of this argument for a few more months.

wildaboutharrie said...

TopCat, yes, the Congressional Resolution was broad and more honest than what the Administration presented again and again to the American people.

That's not an invention created by MoveOn.

And it was a huge tactical mistake. The President would not have the numbers he has now if he and his administration had made a broader and more balanced case for war. Or if he had honestly addressed the issue of NO wmd as soon as it became apparent that there were none.

I know we're all sick of the subject...but it's still there, front and center, and it shouldn't be. Remember when Regan spoke with some candor about the arms for hostages issue? The American people can handle the truth.

AJ Lynch said...

It's a great commercial. If it were a prizefight, it would be the knockout punch to Kerry and Dean. But those two have been doing and saying things on a regular basis that amount to career suicide IMHO.

And I think it was very appropraite response to Dem daily histrionics. We invaded Iraq because we thought Saddam might have WMD and give to Al Quadea. Do the Dems forget that??

And Ann is no partisan unfortunately but some of us are working on that.

Mark said...

Of course, it's obvious why Bush concentrated on WMDs as the main justification for the Iraq war. The WMD issue was the easiest to sell the war to the American public, especially in the wake of 9/11 when everyone was (justly) very concerned with national security.
The truth is that if the case for the war hinged on human rights and establishing democracy in Iraq, many more people would have been very skeptical of the war. Americans, and especially Republicans, are not keen on nation-building. The realpolitik perspective still plays paramount role in America's foreign policy. So, yes, it would have been much better and more honest to hinge the case for the war on issues other than the WMDs. But the chances of the war would have been less. That's why the case for the war rested primarily on WMDs. In fact, Wolfowitz (one of the main arhitects of the war) stated recently that were it not for WMDs, the USA might not have gone to the war with Iraq.

Jacob said...

I think it's a disengenous ad. That really has no relevance on whether it's a "powerful and effective" ad though(I don't think it's quite there yet: the white flag gimmicky thing looks like and I'd have put in more menacing music as opposed to the pseudo-techno).

If the White House can make Dean, Pelosi and–most of all–Kerry the public face of the Democratic Party, that's probably a strategic gain for them.

Mark said...

yes, the burden was on Saddam, as it should have been. However, if we had allowed for the possibility that he really destroyed his WMDs and left no documentation to this effect (as turned out to be the case, BTW), we would have allowed some more time for inspections, as everyone in the international community except for the USA and UK pleaded.
If you really think about it, what was the downside of allowing more time for the inspections to show if he indeed had WMDs? The inspectors themselves believed that given the time and the pressure exerted on Saddam, they would have been able to confirm or deny that he destroyed the WMDs.
This rush to war is what made very many people upset because it really created the impression that Bush was intent on going to war no matter what. Of course, subsequent revelations (accounts by Clarke, Paul O'neill, revelations that intelligence community was divided on much of "solid as rock" intelligence, etc etc )demonstrated that this impression was largely correct.

Aspasia M. said...


I was responding to this:

"There are thousands of rounds of chemical weapons that the UN had already certified existed and they disappeared. If Saddam had told the truth, we wouldn't be having this debate. Even if Bush had wanted to go to war, which no president does, the Congress would never have authorized it."

I'm sorry for not being more clear, but my basic point was that it would be insane to expect murderous dictators to tell the truth. We're the most powerful country in the frickin' world for goodness sake -- I expect better intel.

Obviously something went badly wrong with our intel. I don't think that it's controversial when I say that our intel should fact check dictators.

But, whatever, fix the intel problem and move on. Now we're in Iraq and now instead of a secular dictatorship it's turning into a haven for terrorists.

For the record - I don't think we can just pull out of Iraq. I agree with Colin Powell's Pottery Barn analogy - you brake it, you buy it.

We have to prevent the situation from blowing up into a hot civil war or massive genocide between the three major ethnic groups.

Joan said...

I'm still astonished that people think that Saddam actually did destroy the WMDs. He knew we were coming, he had months to move all of it out of the country. Occam's Razor says if he was going to go through the effort of destroying them, he would do so in a big public display with witnesses and documentation, so everyone could see how well he was behaving. What possible rationale could there be for destroying the WMDs in secret? It makes much more sense that the weapons were moved out or hidden (buried in the desert) rather than destroyed. Remember, Saddam believed, and still believes, that he'd regain the country -- and you can bet he'd want his weapons back when he assumed power again.

As for the ad: It didn't give me chills, but I think it is effective. Of course the white flag bit is cheesy, but it's great to see these Democratic leaders' own words framed this way, as opposed to the way they're usually spun in the MSM.

The question is, of course: who is actually going to see this ad, and when?

TopCat said...

Ah, like a moth to a flame, I say I will not be drawn back into this argument, but here I am:

"If you really think about it, what was the downside of allowing more time for the inspections to show if he indeed had WMDs? The inspectors themselves believed that given the time and the pressure exerted on Saddam, they would have been able to confirm or deny that he destroyed the WMDs"

Yes, in 20/20 hindsight it would have been better to allow our 200K troops cook in the 130 degree summer and wait for Saddam to give us a "fire on Fort Sumter" casus belli(please excuse snark for literary effect.) The problem with that argument is 1) it would not justify the intensity of our current disagreements on the war, 2) it overlooks the effect of 20 years of feckless behavior by the US on the attitudes of the Emirs of Qatar or Kuwait. I don't think they would have allowed our troops to hang around indefinitely (thereby exposing themselves to Saddam's tender mercies.) I think when the full history of the war comes out we will see that Bush had to pull the trigger when he did. That said, I wholeheartedly agree we would have been better off with a more open, upfront President (I was a McCain supporter.) I don't think those distinctions are reflected in the Democrat/Left criticism, though.

EddieP said...

Joan, the ad already ran yesterday. I expect other networks won't turn down the cash.

richard everett said...

These comments lead me to the conclusions that some of you (Mark and Elliot) are baby boomers, and have never got over screwing this country over Vietnam. I have new for you; it's over! A long time ago. Grow up.
Further, Thomas Paine descrived people like you well; "Summer soldiers and sunshine partiots."
Or, more appropriately, a lot of people have described your likes as Copperheads. As a student of the Civil War, I find this most appropriate and, I suppose that Kerry is your McClellan-manque.

Steve Barton said...

How about this for an indicator about the impact of the commercial on John Kerry? I'm watching the ABC News Live internet feed and on comes Politcs Live with Sam Donaldson. Story is Lieberman and his situation WRT other Democrats. Sam includes the RNC white flag ad as background and introduces it "We'll now show you part of the new RNC ad..." They ran the whole beginning, all of Dean, all of Pelosi, and the first four or five words of John Kerry, "We can't have American troops..." No obvious reason to cut off the damning words, unless you see them as damning and want to protect him. It's a theory anyway, and just happened 10 minutes ago.

mcparsons said...

A lot of people are missing the point of the ad. It is less of question of the Dem's position on the war than it is of what they are saying and how they are saying it.

That's what then ending points to the message that our forces and those who wish us ill are likely to take from the leaders quoted in the ad.

skeneogden said...

The ad certainly won't further any constructive dialogue between the party's. It will only ad fuel to the fire and encourage the Dem's to mimic it when they get their opportunity.

Mark said...


Don't you think the WMDs would have been found long ago if they were not destroyed? It seems far-fetched to suggest that they could have been smuggled to North Korea, of all places! How do you suggest it was done that the US didn't notice with all its satellites and thousands of miles separating Iraq and North Korea?
Even the closer places, like Syria, would probably not be able to receive WMDs without this information being known to the USA. It would have been revealed wrong ago.
Your analogy with Occam's Razor is unpersuasive. Sure, prior to 2002 Saddam didn't want the world, and especially its neighbors to know for 100% that he destroyed the WMDs. Uncertainty is an element that all countries use in conduct of world affaits: witness Israel's vagueness about whether it has WMDs and USA's vagueness about its intentions to defend Taiwan by all means if China attacks. That's not to say that Saddam behaved properly, of course he should have made very public destruction of his WMDs. I am just saying that from his point of view, it made sense to maintain the uncertainty about him having WMDs prior to 2002.
However, in 2002 the situation has changed. Saddam knew that the US would attack unless it was satisfied that he didn't have WMDs. Plus, there was a high probability that the world would have supported the US (witness UN Security Council resolution talking about serious consequences). That's what made Saddam much more cooperative with the inspections. Sure, being a dictator and a tyrant, he didn't behave as we would have liked him to behave. But in all fairness, his cooperation has increased greatly because of the threat of force. Incidentally, that's why many Democrats supported the resolution authorizing the use of force in the Senate, i.e. it was supposed to be a stick forcing Saddam to cooperate; and it worked. I was personally against that position because I had suspected that Bush was going to go to war no matter what the inspections have found, but it's a different question.
Anyway, the point is that Occam's Razor analogy fails because Saddam behaved exactly as Occam's Razor would have predicted.


You could not have been more wrong about me. I wasn't even born when the Vietnam war was over. And I could do very well without your various epithets (copperheads and the like). If you think there's anything similar between the Civil War and the Iraq War, then I suggest that you're not a very good student of the Civil War.

F15C said...

Kerry said what he meant to say. He purposefully used the word terrorizing knowing full well the loaded nature of the term. Pelosi's call for a disasterous retreat after the elections is also from her heart.

Both speakers are pandering to the anti-war factions of their party with their words. The Democrats have gone into an anti-war frenzy based on poll numbers which they interpret as an opening to let Bush have it on the war and damn the ramifications to our troops because the American people are sooo fed up with the war they won't notice.

It seems they over-reached just a bit. Again.

Reagarding Howard Dean, I think everyone is misinterpreting him. When he states that it is "just wrong" that "we're" going to win the war, the "we" he is referring is not America as a whole, but the Democratic party. In that context his statement is completely accurate and the most profoundly true statement he's every made. I think he should be applauded for setting the record straight. :)

F15C said...

Mark, first you stand up for Saddam's veracity and truthfulness on WMD (to which no response is needed. Saddam's record speaks for itself...) Then you come out of deep left field (no pun intended) with the following statement:

"... what Democrats are saying is exactly what you said: we achieved victory and we should think of getting out since military did it (sic) job."

Soooo. Let me get this straight. Mr. Democrat himself, Howard Dean, when he says it's wrong to think we can win this war, is *really* saying means is that we aren't *going* to win, because we've already won?

And Ms. Pelosi when suggesting what would be a disasterous retreat from Iraq beginning right after the elections, just forgot (oopsies) to mention that it's because we've "achieved victory" in Iraq...


XWL said...

I'll just sit back and watch the show, keep it up folks, I expect at least another 100 posts of back and forth-itude before it dribbles to a conclusion.

But, the commercial is clunky, divisive, and effective.

The drop in the polls was the best thing that ever happened to President Bush as it emboldened the Democrats to drop the thin veneer of sanity regarding foreign policy that they've been constraining themselves under since 9/11.

They sensed weakness (the Dems) and revealed themselves and the way they've been thinking since 9/11, their bracing honesty has gotten them exactly what they deserve.

(and I'm still hopeful for 60 in '06)

(I'm no moderate, I'm proudly partisan and a stronger Republican majority will mean a Republican party more responsive to small government, pro-security, libertarian thinking if they don't feel threatened from the left, and the left seems busy removing themselves as a threat)

Aspasia M. said...


RE: similarity to Civil War Copperheads

Perhaps Richard is referring to the objections Lincoln's political enemies made to his suspension of Habeus Corpus.

Or the objections Copperheads made when under martial law newspapers were shut down.

Bush to Blair: "Won't someone rid me of this troublesome news network?"

Aspasia M. said...


"But, the commercial is clunky, divisive, and effective."

I agree it was effective. But the question is: effective in terms of what?

1) It helps rally the base.

2)If Kerry was running for president, it would be a great commercial.

3) It cautions Democrats (and Republicans like Hegel) to be very careful how they couch criticism.

4) It reminds Dean to be careful how he speaks and don't throw red meat to Karl Rove.

The 2006 elections are going to be about the Republican incumbants. To a large extent, those races will be local. Gas prices and corruption charges will be more important to the outcome of those races.

Mark said...


Did you watch or read Murtha's statement? He said (I am quoting from memory): our military has achieved what it was supposed to achieve; it met its goals, now it's time to get out.
That's exactly the Pelosi's position (because she said so) and I believe, that's Dean's position as well.
Again, the position is that militarily we achieved our goals, i.e., we won. Nation-building is not a job that american troops are trained to do; they alienate most of the population and therefore, it's time to bring them home. How is it a defeat? Whenever the troops leave, there likely will be some sort of a civil war in Iraq; in fact, it's going on already. The level of violence may or may not increase; it's hard to predict whether the absence of troops would flame the war or not. But the war is certainly flaming now.
There will never be a clearcut "victory" or "defeat" in the war; there'll be mixed results whatever the course. The only likely "winner" emerging from the conflict is Iran.

I am far from sure that keeping the troops as long as possible ensures the better outcome for Iraqis. I think the most sensible approach is probably Sen. Feingold's: establish some flexible timeframe for withdrawal and gradually bring the troops home.


60 in 2006? Good luck :)
I predict a net gain of 3-4 seats by Democrats in the Senate (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, maybe Missouri, maybe Montana). In the House, Dems stand a realistic chance of gaining 20-30 seats and the majority. A lot depends on the economy and situation in Iraq.

brylin said...

The ad shows Barbara Boxer, not Nancy Pelosi.

brylin said...

Democratic Congressman from North Dakota Earl Pomeroy publicly tells Howard Dean to "shut up."

Democratic Senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye issued a press release asking President Bush to direct the RNC to pull the ad.

The respected blog Power Line comments on Inouye's press release, saying "It is not defeat in Iraq the Democrats fear, it is victory. They are scared to death that it is happening before their eyes."

brylin said...

Mark and Elliott notwithstanding, the Democratic Party is fragmented, with their 2000 VP nominee Joe Lieberman and their presumptive 2008 Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the opposite side of DNC Chairman Howard Dean, California Senator Barbara Boxer and 2000 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry (and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, too).

My guess is that the most effective use of the GOP "Retreat and Defeat" ad will be in red states against incumbent Democrats.

By the way, there is no question that the quotes are accurate and have not been taken out of context.

Aspasia M. said...

brylin said,

"The respected blog Power Line comments on Inouye's press release, saying "It is not defeat in Iraq the Democrats fear, it is victory. They are scared to death that it is happening before their eyes.""

Oh good God, are you kidding me? Look at how many Democrats voted to give Bush authorization for the war. Iraq is a problem for incumbents of both parties.

Ann Althouse said...

"The ad shows Barbara Boxer, not Nancy Pelosi."


Well, I was going to say Pelosi doesn't look the way she usually looks. I suppose you could accuse us of being sexist, but, really, most of those senators look alike! Very few are recognizable, really.

brylin said...

Geoduck2, Is Hillary, the Democratic Party frontrunner for 2008 in all polls, jumping off the deep end?

Mark said...


"Respected" blog Powerline????
Are you kidding me? Respected by whom? Right-wing partisans, maybe?That blog has zero credibility.

miklos rosza said...

I as usual come late to this thread, but in rejoinder to one aspect of Mark's countless posts I really wonder if he's ever read any history written by a Vietnamese. Bui Diem's "In the Jaws of History" might be a good place to start.

brylin said...

Ann, It seems to me that Boxer and Pelosi, both California Democrats, have identical viewpoints on Iraq and most other issues. In fact, I cannot think of any issue on which they differ.

Diane Feinstein, on the other hand, has much more gravitas than either of them.

brylin said...

Mark: Do you have any response to my Lieberman/Hillary vs. Dean/Boxer/Kerry/Pelosi split?

Is Hillary ruining her chances for 2008 in your opinion?

paulfrommpls said...

Any ad like this will not penetrate beyond those who agree with it until the Republicans start getting more specific and convincing on the exact nature anti-war fecklessness, not just now but over the last 3 years at least.

With that in mind, what's always baffled me is the blithe assumption that Hussein's disguised, tactical destruction of most or all of his weapons stocks at some point meant that was the end of the security-based, WMD-based premise for the war.

People talk and talk that "we should have let the inspectors certify the weapons were gone" - as if that were possible absent the war, but even beyond that rather obvious point: then what?

Two Kerry quotes:

"Oh, I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein." (December 2001)

"It would be naive to the point of great danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will misjudge, provoke and stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world. He has as much promised it."
(October 2002)

Here's what those kinds of quotes say to me - and there are literally dozens of them, especially in late 2001 and early 2002: they remind me that the bi-partisan consensus after 9-11 was that it was no longer permissible to just dither on Iraq; and his regime continuing indefinitely with his supremely evil sons waiting in the wings was no longer acceptable.

W's possible dishonesty in the form of excessive certainty on WMDs doesn't change that. Hussein's secret tactical destruction of weapons doesn't change that.

When speaking of dishonesty on the Iraq war, like I said in a post of mine a while back, there's a whole other storyline: the failure of Democrats to live up to the implications of their own brave words regarding Hussein following 9-11.

You can criticize W for the case; you can say he blundered into a badly-timed war in isolation when a better diplomatic effort would have perhaps prevented that; you can say it would have been better to have gone for regime change from the outside, although you'd have to acknowledge that too would bring turmoil and death to the Iraqis, and would also lead to Hussein looking to do damage to us in any way he could...

...but to say that the security-based rationale for the war was completely trumped up and nonexistent is utter bullshit. Sorry. Someday that will be consensus.

I wrote about this maybe nore succinctly in a post that includes a letter to the Star-Trib they didn't print:

brylin said...


John, Scott and Paul from Power Line are all high-powered lawyers (and Dartmouth undergrads). Their blog has great respect among conservatives and moderates. I would expect lefties to berate their efforts, however.

These bloggers have gained so much recognition that they are in demand for op-ed pieces and for radio and television comments.

You may not agree with their viewpoints, but you really can't disagree that they have become influential as a result of their blogging.

paulfrommpls said...

By the way, Ann - I got "Chronicles" for my birthday. Hadn't read it yet. Remember when you were excerpting it? I didn't read those because I wanted to save it.

What a book. Another gift from Bob.

brylin said...

Paulfrommpls: It would so surprise me that the Star-Trib would publish something critical of the Dems current position, that I would fall out of my chair!

Aspasia M. said...

brylin said:

"Geoduck2, Is Hillary, the Democratic Party frontrunner for 2008 in all polls, jumping off the deep end?"

If you're asking me if I support her for president, the answer is no.

I live in a early primary state. I wouldn't vote for her in the caucus. She's got no charisma and I personally find her annoying.

I think Democrats have to stop nominating people who are annoying. (cough, Kerry, cough)

Aspasia M. said...


Ooops, I didn't see your question to Mark. I thought it was a general question of whether Democrats were going off the deep end by making Hilary the front runner.

Kerry was nominated in Iowa because he had these great ads showing his Vietnam service. The majority of the Democratic primary voters didn't care if he had voted for the authorization for the Iraq war. They voted for him because they thought he could win against Bush. I think the majority of the primary voters wanted someone like Murtha or Paul Hackett.

The main thing primary voters will look for is someone they think will win. Nobody will care what Clinton or any other Democrat says about the Iraq war in '05.

Joan said...

Mark: I don't know where you're getting the idea that Iraqi WMDs were moved to North Korea. What fever dream did that come out of? It certainly wasn't my previous reply.

We do, btw, have quite a bit of footage of truck convoys crossing from Iraq into Syria, which could easily have been transporting WMDs.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Mark said...

So, in the essence, you support airing a dishonest commercial which you know misrepresents Democratic position.
I congratulate you on taking such a very intellectually honest position.

I never said that the ad "misrepresents the Democratic position" nor did I say it's necessary for "political purposes", and I did not suggest that ad was untruthful. I said it was "unfortunate".

So, no Mark. I meant what I actually said, not your interpretation of my words. No congratulations are in order, but thanks.

Wildaboutharrie wishfully says:

We've been through this, but in a search on all speeches and presentations given by the President, VP, Cheney, Rice, and Powell, there is only one mention of a reason other than WMD that I or...

Not only does Goatwhacker provide a link that shows Mr.Wildharry is speaking rather freely (against my original comments), but he fails to take note of President Bush's speechto the General Assembly, which lays out not only multiple reasons for dealing with Iraq, but provides a continuity grid, linking the current conflict to unresolved issues from the first Gulf War.

But I applaud Wildaboutharrie's moxy in forcefully aserting a butt fact, working under the assumption that everyone is too lazy to check, or too stupid to know otherwise.

Sloanasaurus said...

The history of the Vietnam war has not been written yet. You cannot expect a fair account of the war when those who were passionate about it are the ones still writing the history. Someone on this board said that it was wrong because 69% of the people thought it was a mistake. This is a foolish citation. I am sure you would have found similar poll results following the Civil War. (obviously especially in the South).

I think the history will find that Vietnam was a necessary war, a battle that was waged withing the larger war against communism and totalitarianism.

And yes, the war was lost in 1975 when Congress cut military support to the South Vietnamese in the face of invasion by the North. It was the anthesis of Truman's (and the Congress' reaction to South Korea).

Today we have a free south Korea and a Communist Vietnam.

Sloanasaurus said...

I thought the ad was typical politics. It's obvious that Kerry did not intend to imply that American Soldiers were terrorists and was using the word "terrorize" in a different context. Nevertheles the Democrats deserve the sliming after all the untruths they have delivered.

Funny how you have democrats say Bush is all wrong, has no plan etc... and then they go on to regurgitate the plan that Bush is already doing (i.e., training Iraqi troops to carry on the fight). Lieberman is saying the same thing, except Lieberman is not trying to pretend that Bush has no plan.

I think a lot of the anti-war stuff is rooted in Bush hatred. Some democrats hate Bush so much they do not want Bush to get credit for "changing the world."

If Kerry would have won the election we would be doing the exact same thing in Iraq that we are currently doing except that more than 50% of the Democrats would be supporting the effort.

Mark said this:

"....Of course, it's obvious why Bush concentrated on WMDs as the main justification for the Iraq war. The WMD issue was the easiest to sell the war to the American public, especially in the wake of 9/11...."

I think this misses the truth. Bush needed to cobble together a coalition to get support for the War. The WMD angle was really only addressed to some parts of the isolationist conservative base.

I never cared about the WMD issue (that we went in to destroy existing stocks) other than worrying about their use when we invaded. In my opinion Saddam himself was the WMD. Would we have gone in, found Saddams WMD, destroyed it an then left Saddam in power. No way! I would have never supported such a war. I would have also been a joke if the UN found a "clean bill of health" and let Saddam be with no more inspections.

I also agreed with Bush on his argument that spreading freedom was the only real way to combat future WMD proliferation.

The WMD argument was addressed to conservatives who generally opposed any attack without being attacked first.

This why I laugh when critics try to convince me that Bush lied about the WMD!. I couldn't care less if he did because Saddam needed to be removed regardless of whether he had any existing stocks of WMD. I wanted Saddam removed in 1991!

Imagine telling that hard core anti-Nazi group in FDR's administration that FDR was lying to Congress and the people about his aggression towards Germany in early 1941 and that FDR let the Japanese bomb us at Pearl Harbor to get into the war. Do you think they cared if FDR lied? They wanted to get into the war because they knew Hitler would kill us all if we didn't. Imagine telling the abolitionists during the civil war that Lincoln was a criminal because he lied and tricked the north into war. Do you think the abolitionists cared about Lincolns lies and tricks? No way. They wanted to free the slaves.

Of course there is always the chance that Saddam was really a nice guy and Bush has been lying about him all this time (just as that nasty Truman pulled the wool over our eyes about Uncle Mao).

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think Althouse's support of the Iraq war in any way shows a conservitive slant. In fact, the Iraq war fits more nicely in with support of abortion, gay marriage, etc.. the Iraq policy is more of a liberal policy than a conservative one. Perhaps she reveals herslef as a moderate because she doesn't feel a passionate hatred towards bush.

Why do democrats oppose the Iraq war? I can understand Vietnam because of the Draft. But there is no draft here....

1) The Iraq war uses American power to free people - a very liberal type of policy.

2) Democrats don't really identify with the soliders who are dying in Iraq. Clearly, today's military is much more republican and all volunteer. Do democrats really care that much about these soliders?

3) Democrats don't care about the money being spent. It is only a fraction of the total budget.

4) Democrats widely supported Clintons attack in Kosovo so they can't really be anti-war?

Hmmm... I know. It's all Bush Hatred. If Kerry were waging the same war, democrats would support it.

Mark said...

Sorry I am late with responding. I went to watch "Syriana" tonight; very good movie, I'd recommend seeing it. Ok, before going to bed, I'll try to respond briefly to many posts.


You didn't suggest that Saddam moved WMDs to North Korea. However, one of the commentators here (David) floated this idea. So, I was responding to both of you. But the pictures of trucks going to Syria don't qualify as evidence either. It's very improbable that Saddam was able to smuggle WMDs anywhere.


That's what you said:

The commercial itself is unfortunate, but necessary, in a world where the Democrats have essentially co-opted the administration's Iraq policy, but phrased parts of it (the troops coming home part) more vividly, leaving the impression that they would be doing something entirely different. Press them, and they hedge and say, "Well, home immediately, as soon as, you know, we are capable of doing so."

So, it's clear that you realize that most Democrats do not advocate immediate pullout as the ad suggests. So, you have to realize that the ad is dishonest (since it implies that Democrats are advocating something they are not). Nevertheless, you support it.

Miklos and Sloanasaurus:

It's useless to re-argue Vietnam here, especially in the middle of Iraq conflict. Nobody here will have an objective opinion since it will be highly colored by the views of the Iraq war. However, the facts are that most historians in the USA and in the world think that the war was wrong and did not achieve anything useful to the USA. Most of Americans agree. Whether this position is right or wrong can be argued for ages; sloanasaurus is right that more time needs to be passed before the judgment of history is made on that war.


Lieberman's position is very different from Hillary's. You're right, Hillary is more to the right on the war than Pelosi/Dean/Kerry. But her position is nowhere near Lieberman's. Heck, even McCain said that he's not as optimistic as Lieberman. McCain!
Anyway, Hillary is not endangering her chances to get Democratic nomination. A lot of the base would support her no matter what position she takes now on the war. She's still the frontrunner, although I am not sure she'll ultimately get the nomination. Democrats may decide she's too polarizing to win. It'll be very interesting to see Democratic (and Republican!) primaries in 2008.

About Powerline, I am not inclined to argue. In my opinion, they are a high-profile right wing blog which closely coordinates its position with the RNC. But you're probably right that they gained some influence in the MSM. It just shows what a sad state MSM are in, in my opinion (I know you'll disagree ;))


Your analysis about why Democrats oppose the Iraq war shows that you don't really understand why Democrats, along with most of Americans and most of the world oppose this war. I can speak for myself, and the brief summary is:

The war is a diversion from the real war on terror; the resources that should have been spent on Afghanistan for a good cause are being spent in Iraq; the war was rushed into; the evidence was manipulated/distorted to build the case for the war; the war is being run extremely unprofessionally; most Iraqis want us out, so we're staying there against their will and serve as the best recruitment agent Zarqawi could ever hope to find.

Synova said...

I'll admit that I started skimming the comments (though I did notice that someone mentioned that was Boxer not Pelosi so I guess I'm not losing my mind after all).

I think the *rest* of Kerry's quote is side splittingly funny... the part where after he talks about US soldiers terrorizing children and women and violating the customs and religious customs, he says "Iraqis should be doing that."

No, no, I don't think he meant it that way but it really was funny.

What isn't so funny is that if the Iraqis *were* doing that, that is what they would be doing. Our guys, (and occasionally female troops taken on these house to house searches so that women and children are *not* terrorized and religious customs *not* trampled on) are far more careful and far more *fair* than Iraqi troops would be.

I have great faith in the Iraqi people to figure out democracy and also to start to get hold of the idea of equality under the law for minority groups... of which there are many in Iraq. But I sure wouldn't trust the Shiite majority to be quite ready to let bygones be bygones just yet.

The Iraqis are voting again next week. I'd think that the Democrats could find *something* encouraging or positive to say about the situation if they tried *really* *hard*.

Synova said...

Oh, and I'd like to call BS on Mark for the remarks that most Iraqis want us out unless he offers some links to back it up.

And I'd like a clear distinction made between a general longing not to have foreign troops in the country and an actual wish for US and other troops to leave NOW, damn the consequences.

Mark said...


Here's the link describing the poll that I was referring to.

Some highlights:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

Goatwhacker said...

Mark- sorry to get nitpicky here but that's an awfully weak poll to base anything on. The article itself reads like an editorial, the poll is "secret" and it was "seen" by an Examiner reporter. You have no idea of methods, selection of participants, etc. There is scant mention of where exactly the polls were conducted and none of how the questions were framed. The results are also in disagreement with many verbal reports from American soldiers.

I know it's a common tactic to attack the poll itself when you don't like the results but based on your link I would be hesitant to give it much credibility. As I've also stated before, policy should not be driven by polls but by the wishes of properly elected Iraqi leaders.

wildaboutharrie said...

Finn, I conceded that I was wrong about that speech. Did you miss that?

Thanks for being so civil.

Sloanasaurus said...

".....The war is a diversion from the real war on terror; the resources that should have been spent on Afghanistan for a good cause are being spent in Iraq;"

This is such a load of crap. Afghanistan is the worse place to fight a war (aka the graveyard of armies). Osama wanted us there. It was a trick. What would we accomplish from putting more resources in there... Nothing. It would be the Afghan vs. Soviets redux. How were we supposed to supply our larger force? Through Pakistan? Could we expect the Afghanis to take up the cause after we leave... using all their resources? The only reason things are going well there now is becuase all the jihadis are going to Iraq instead.

"...the war was rushed into..." What after 12 years of violating the 1991 treaty. I think not.

"...the evidence was manipulated/distorted to build the case for the war..." Yes, we misrepresented Saddam's desire to build WMD. We misrepresented the number of Mass Graves, not! Apparently we misunderestimated Iraqi's desire for democracy. Turnout has been higher than we ever expected.

We also misrepresented the amount of coddling France, Russia, and the UN had been doing with Saddam. Noone ever imagined the extent of the corruption with the Oil for Food program.

"... the war is being run extremely unprofessionally..."

What does this mean? Compared to what? Compared to what war?

What a joke.

David said...

Are you willing to risk an American city on the word "improbable" when dealing with Saddam Hussein?

Also, it was not up to the world to prove Saddam Hussein had WMD, it was up to him to prove he did not.

He had the motivation, opportunity, and means to hide the WMD any place he desired because he thought he would "be back" to recover them when the Americans tired of fighting the left wing democrats and the Sunni Baathists.

David said...

Mark, One other point needs to be addressed. The average freight train handles approximately 80 platforms upon which can be placed 1-3 containers depending on their size and destination.

Most (99%?) of these containers are not scrutinized at all. Don't kid yourself. Saddam could have sent a container into pre-Katrina New Orleans and had it barged up the river to Memphis where it could be sitting now in a junk yard waiting to be resent anywhere in the world at a moments notice!

By the way, after the TET offensive in 1968 General Giap and his army was finished as a fighting force. He lost, we won militarily. Imagine his surprise when we gave him the political victory as we cut and ran.

Mark said...

I just watched Meet the Press, and I am very glad to see both Senator Graham of SC and conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks call for pull of this ad. It shows how partisan on the war the supporters of this ad are. Reasonable people realize that the ad is offensive, misleading, and stupid.

John(classic) said...

I think many of you talking about polls in Iraq are missing a key distinction.

My reading of the polls is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi's want American troops out -- but the overwhelming majority of Iraqis doesn't want them out yet.

Which I suspect is the opinion of most Americans.

Mark said...


I really think most Iraqis want us out yesterday. Why do you think 45% of them (if you believe the poll) think the attacks against them are justified? It's not entirely clear about when the other Iraqis wants us to leave, but I'd imagine it's sooner rather than later. The gov-t of Iraq doesn't want us to leave just yet, but the ordinary Iraqis definitely want us out. Doesn't necessarily mean we should leave as soon as possible, but it's important to know what the Iraqis think.

I think ABC News is coming up with a new poll of Iraqi attitudes this week. It would be interesting to see the results.

Joe Baby said...

Howard Dean et al have been extremely misleading, but it's misleading to actually revisit their own words?

BTW, many think Joe Lieberman has been pretty dang reasonable, but he's almost ceased to exist over the past few weeks.

Aspasia M. said...

sloanasaurus said:

"Why do democrats oppose the Iraq war? I can understand Vietnam because of the Draft. But there is no draft here...."

I understand why the RNC would try to make criticism of Iraq into a partisian debate. It's smart politics on their part. But playing politics is different from the truth of who has problems with how the Bush admin. has conducted the Iraq war.

We all know that prominent Republicans like Brent Scowcroft and Col Lawrence Wilkerson both have big issues with Iraq. The criticism of the war is not coming from one party. I don't understand how Brent Scowcroft and Col. Lawrence Willkerson fit into your world view. I also don't understand why you think someone like Murtha wouldn't identify with the troops.

richard everett said...

Mark: the fact that you weren't born until after Vietnam doesn't excuse your regurgitation of the tired crap of the lefty boomers; it just shows your shallowness. The Copperhead reference is to them agitating to settle the Civil War by signing a treaty, and geting out. They nominated McClellan as their standard bearer for this purpose. There is no comparison with Iraq qua Civil War; YOU apparently don't know much about that war.
geoduck2: Read the above remarks; that is the context, and nothing to do with what you said. If I had wanted to say that, I would have done so.

Mark said...


Right. Except Copperheads did not nominate McClellan. You are apparently not familiar that McClellan was not a Copperhead and he repudiated the peace plank in the party platform. There was deal reached between pro-war and pro-peace Democrats whereby pro-war Democrats nominated McClellan as the party candidate while Copperheads won including peace references in the platform. McClellan repudiated the peace plank in his acceptance speech. Therefore, it is strange for a self-proclaimed "student of the Civil War" to claim that Copperheads nominated him.

In any event, I think that the person who is seriously comparing the Civil War with the Iraq war has no understanding of either war.

Synova said...

From the article "...the new poll shows that 65 per cent of people in Maysan province - one of the four provinces under British control..."

Apparently this "poll" was taken in *one* of the four southern provinces under British control. Makes a person wonder what they're teaching at the Iraqi university about "samples" and what they teach the UK journalists about interpretation of data. While I do very much appreciate that the Brits are there we all know that it's the areas under US control where the majority of the fighting happens. The opinions of the people who are giving tips to US forces with ever greater frequency, who daily face the indescriminate violence of "insurgents", as well as the Sunni Kurds in the North, might well be different from those in that one small region in the South.

And classic john... you're exactly right. Which is why I asked for that precise distinction to be made. Wanting foreign troops out and wanting them out *now* are entirely different things.

Our soldiers would like to go home as well, but that's also not the same thing as wanting to cut and run. Most people can understand that what they *want* isn't always the best choice to make.

As for our jack-booted thugs going house to house terrorizing people and offending sensibilities... they are the first jack-booted thugs in the history of the world that arrive in the middle of the night only to have fathers bring out their sick children instead of hiding them.

wildaboutharrie said...

Oh crap, I think I started the rumor that it was Pelosi! Sorry, all.

So now the absense of Murtha is even more glaring. And why not show Pelosi? Boxer, Kerry, and Dean? Weird ad. This will not have the intended impact. It's just too vague.

Aspasia M. said...


When I saw the ad on Fox I could have swore that it was Pelosi! I suppose this is why eye witnesses make mistakes.

I, too, don't understand why Boxer and not Pelosi was placed in the ad.

The ad was a good example of political theater, but it's not going to change popular opinion about Iraq. American popular opinion will change when (and if) the violence decreases in Iraq.

It seems to me that the overarching question is how to keep Iraq from blowing up into a massive civil war. I don't think the idea of redeployment in two years should be discounted out-of-hand. I'd want some military and political experts in the area to examine the situation. I also want a better analysis of what is going on with the insurgency.

For example, what percentage are Iraqi Sunnis and how many are foreign terrorists?

And while the American Civil War is interesting, its not relevant to a discussion about Iraq. (Although I'm a Fremont gal myself. And don't forget Gen. Nathaniel Lyon!)

Synova said...

geoduck, I think what will change opinion about Iraq is when people start listening to our soldiers.

The violence goes up and it goes down and it goes up again. Glenn Reynolds has a link to a news article about former Bathists telling their people to vote this week and warning Zarqawi not to interfere. Or else. I think that is much more relevant than levels of violence.

Our soldiers, particularly ones who have been sent to Iraq (and Afghanistan) are re-enlisting at remarkable rates. I think that is more relevant than the sort of defeatist talk we hear at home.

The Iraq civil war scenario is nearly certain if we take our troops out too soon. However nuanced Dean meant "we can't win" the whole "we need to take our troops out of the country" rhetoric is couched in a "we shouldn't have invaded and we shouldn't be there now" context.

Sure, you ask and they say, "well, of course we shouldn't leave before the Iraqis can take over" but since there is no way to argue that Iraqi capability has been reached and Bush is dragging his feet bringing our troops home it all ends up, as at least one person has pointed out, not a single bit different than the actual administration policy on bringing our guys home again. Which makes no sense.

It's not dissent about how the war over there is being waged at all. It's dissent about *being* there. If Dean or Boxer (or Pelosi) or Kerry had on-the-record views to show they clearly want us to *win* there would be no way that the ad could twist those into defeatism.

There's a reason that they didn't quote Hillary. I'm sure she has said something at some time that could possibly seem defeatist. But it wouldn't fly at all, not even with people who can't stand the woman. And who can say that she expresses support for *how* the war is being fought? She doesn't.

This is really *not* about a demand that everyone be cheerleaders for the president or they will get branded defeatist or anti-victory.

sonicfrog said...

Here's the ABC Poll released today. Kinda knocks down the other poll. Which is why you should refrain from basing long term policy decisions on poll numbers. Polls are very short term and don't always reflect reality. Take the Consumer Confidence polls. They have often shown that Americans are not confident in the current economy. Yet all the economic number clearly show a robust economy. And those same people who are negative are the people spending the money that is keeping the economy healthy, so there is a disconnect between the public opinion and the economic reality. This is why you don't set economic policy base on the Consumer Confidence polls. Also, polls can be weighted too far one way or the other, or the numbers can change in ways that make your previous poll based decision look foolish. As soon as a poll comes out that is contrary to the previous poll, your position is weakened. This is likely going to happen to the Dems who base their argument on the BBC poll.

For more on polls, this is a good site to monitor.

Doug said...

The round-and-round about Saddam and WMD is so tedious. U.S. security is advanced by our having put a ring around Saudi Arabia; by our having acquired a treasure trove of intelligence, in the form of the files and former officials of a nation whose ruling class was among those who hate us; and by our having shown everyone, enemy and potential enemy alike, with what ease we topple a foreign government.

In comparison to all this, the moralistic arguments advanced against the war are trifling. They would be unfounded even if they weren't trifling. After all, is there some god or some knower of moral things who has declared, "Thou shalt not go to war against whomever you think may endanger you"? I think we're free to do as we intelligently think fit.

SWBarns said...

Ann said:
"The ad shows Barbara Boxer, not Nancy Pelosi."


. . .most of those senators look alike!

Pelosi is the hot one.

Ann Althouse said...

"Pelosi is the hot one."

Pelosi is the one with so much plastic surgery, I'm never sure what she's going to look like. I prefer senators who are capable of closing their eyelids all the way and who don't look perpetually alarmed. Are you sexually attracted to frightened women, by chance?