Tuesday | September 17, 2002
Where does Rove go from here?
The current theme in political circles is as follows: If Iraq dominates the political discourse in November, the GOP will hold their own; if domestic issues dominate, then the Dems will have a great election night. I'm not ready to concede that theme (witness major Dem pickups last November, in the wake of 9-11). However, assuming it's true, did the Iraq "crisis" peak too soon?
It's clear that the administration timed Bush's "tough stance" on Iraq to coincide with the upcoming November elections. Under this hypothetical timeline, the policy was announced in September, allowing a congressional debate to play out leading into the November elections. In addition, Hussein would be slow to back down in the face of an aggressive US, allowing Bush to gradually ratchet up the pressure and dominate news cycles while doing so.
In other words, all Iraq, all the time, until the first week of November. But, Iraq didn't play along. It almost immediately agreed to the resumption of UN inspections, and the world body is already engaged in logistical discussions with Iraq to get inspectors back in ASAP. Stunned US officials have been clearly caught off guard, and suddenly look panicked as they grasp at any excuse to maintain its war footing.
"My gates are open," says Saddam.From a campaign standpoint, Iraq is a dead issue. Bush could've declared victory and embraced Iraq's offer with a variation of Reagan's "trust but verify". Instead, the UN (and even Democrats) can take credit for averting war, while the nation and its press turn their attention back to Enron, 401(k)s, ballooning deficits and rising unemployment. Posted September 17, 2002 03:42 PM | Comments (8)