What Are They Up To?

Last night, I questioned the Democrats’ strategy in focusing on pre-war intelligence about Iraq, in this post, titled What’s the Point?. Today, Michael Barone picked up the thread of the argument:

John Hinderaker of [Power Line] asks why the Democrats are spending so much political capital on an issue—did the Bush administration unduly manipulate prewar intelligence on Iraq?—that is not likely to help them in 2006 and 2008? Unlikely, because (a) Bush isn’t running again, (b) Iraq is likely to be in better shape then, (c) the Democrats themselves as well as practically every country took the same view of the intelligence the Bush administration did, and (d) the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report and the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission concluded that there was no such manipulation of intelligence. Good points all.

But here’s one point Hinderaker comes up with [Ed.: Actually, Deacon made this point first] that I had not thought of and, as far as I know, no one else has raised either. “If the administration knew Saddam didn’t have. . . weapons [of mass destruction], then it also knew its ‘pretext’ would be exposed as soon as the invasion was complete. No one would be dumb enough to go to war on the basis of a claim that was not only wrong but would quickly be shown to be wrong.”

Yup. Why didn’t I think of that?

So why are the Democrats doing this? My guess is that this is the issue that preoccupies their left-wing base. Campaigns these days are battles of turnout. Democrats want to turn out their left-wing base. The base hates Bush and believes he lied us into war. Sources tell me that among the people at one of the Senate Democrats’ strategy meetings was Steve Bing, the Hollywood billionaire who, together with Peter Lewis and George Soros, contributed more than $60 million to the anti-Bush 527 organizations in the 2004 campaign. (Thank goodness the McCain-Feingold law got the big money out of politics.) The 527s ran their share of “Bush lied!” TV ads that made the donors feel good but that, in my opinion, were not well calculated to win votes for John Kerry. And not just in my opinion, I think: The Kerry campaign didn’t run such ads either. Keeping your big contributors happy is something both parties do. But usually they try to do it in a way that helps their political fortunes.

Which I take as agreement with my view that the Democrats’ strategy doesn’t make much sense, even though it may garner them some headlines at the moment.

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