Take a memo
: I haven’t written about the Downing Street memo because to me it’s such nonnews: Of course Bush had decided to invade Iraq long before he said so. No one is surprised by that. The scandal here is not that he invaded Iraq — a policy decision about which reasonable and unreasonable people can disagree — or that he was determined to do so as soon as he took office — what politician doesn’t have hidden agendas? — but that he did such a bad job selling it before and after the fact.
It is a scandal of bad PR. And apart from outright theft, aren’t all political scandals about that: transparency, not telling the truth, trying to game the people, trying to treat us as if we’re dumb enough to buy the spin?
I said from the start that WMDs were the wrong justifcation and a dangerous one at that: What happens when we don’t find them? Well, now we know what happens. And the truth is that WMDs were never the real justification. Everyone knows that. So Bush would have been in a stronger position if he’d just told the truth:
1. He should have said that he needed to finish his dad’s job (and clean up his mess) and get rid of the tyrant we let stay in power to murder his own people. This is the humanitarian — yes, liberal — justification for war that is harder to argue against, harder to undercut.
2. After 9/11, he should have said he’d follow the Tom Friedman doctrine (and blame him for it): We have to find a foothold for democracy in the Middle East and why not Iraq?
3. He should have said that we were going to engage terrorists on their turf instead of ours. That’s not to say that the 9/11 terrorists were connected to Iraq, but in the Middle East, you turn over any rock and you’ll find terrorists underneath. That has been the real truth of the Iraq war: Coming there to fight us and bomb Iraqis is a regular terrorist tourist industry.
4. When we took Baghdad, he should have gone on that aircraft carrier not to declare victory but instead to warn of the long, hard, dangerous, costly war ahead. The war wasn’t over. it was just beginning. He should have managed expectations.
But he did none of that. It is a scandal of bad PR.
: SEE ALSO: Jay Rosen on big news now living by the rhythm of the people’s news.
: JEESH: I am amazed sometimes how literal one has to be in the blogosphere. Yes, I said bad PR. It’s a wry way to say he lied — yes, indeed, he wanted to invade Iraq from the first and we all knew it — and he would have been better off if he had told the truth. There, is that clear enough?