I don’t know how to describe this other than freefall. Dick Cheney’s approval is at 19% right now, and that ought to be a good measure of the lowest one can go. If Bush keeps hanging the label “traitor” on anyone who points out the dishonesty that got us into Iraq, he’ll keep slipping. People are seeing that he made a miscalculation, and it’s time to accept the error and move on.
The administration gambled on a couple things going into Iraq.
- WMD that the inspectors missed would turn up. (Skeptics about aluminum tubes, uranium purchases, al Qaeda contacts, giant vats of anthrax, etc. would all eat crow.)
- Iraqis would welcome us. (Skeptics about the ability of American power to shift Middle Easern power lunch on corvids.)
- A new power structure would form around the non-evil parts of the Iraqi leadership, including exiles like Chalabi. (Ditto.)
- Most of the fighting would cease once the military conflict itself ended. (Skeptics about the size of the invasion force would have to snack on scavenging birds, as would those who wanted a broader coalition.)
Turns out, those of us who objected to the invasion on pragmatic grounds were right. I don’t oppose a muscular American foreign policy. I think we should have invaded Afghanistan long ago. I thought we should have been more aggressive in Rwanda before the genocide started. I want American logistics in support of AU peacekeepers in Darfur. My opposition to Iraq was not isolationism or pacifism, nor were most of the war’s opponents motivated by those concerns.
The concern was that evidence was leaking out that undermined the story Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld and their aides, deputies and assistants were telling. When Bush, et al. said Saddam was protecting Zarqawi, people looked around and didn’t find that evidence so compelling. Now we learn that a re-evaluation of the evidence refutes those claims. The claims about an al Qaeda base in Iraq were valid only in the sense that it operated in the part we controlled, and if we wanted to, we could have taken it out. And so on and so forth. The intelligence wasn’t there before and it isn’t there now.
People, even the State Department, doubted the optimistic claims about the post-invasion period, and the evidence continues to validate concerns expressed before the invasion.
We went to war because the public, even Senators, accepted that the President had intelligence other people couldn’t see, and that he must have more than the junk he was putting out for public consumption. As time passes, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the intelligence he held back was not the really good stuff, but the stuff that expressed doubts about what he was telling the public.
And so his approval rating plummets. His credibility on military matters (always his strong point) is falling as well. That’s what happens when you gamble with American lives and lose.