- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Losing White House Strategy on Iraq

Some conservatives have been complaining that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have been AWOL in the public relations war over Iraq. On Veterans Day, a counter-attack of some sort was launched. President Bush defended himself by saying, in effect, that Democrats used the same intelligence from the CIA that he did. 

Bush’s biggest mistake, of course, was in retaining Clinton’s director of the CIA, George Tenet, who told him that it was a “slam dunk” that the U.S. would find stockpiles of WMD in Iraq. For some reason, however, the CIA escapes accountability. Incredibly, Bush even gave Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom after he resigned.   

As part of this new public relations strategy, the Republican Party has produced a video of leading Democrats declaring Saddam to be a serious threat to America and having WMD. But how will drawing attention to liberal flip-floppers save the Iraq policy?

Think about Bush’s charge. He’s basically saying that the Democrats are wrong to say that he deliberately misled the nation. He’s saying that if he made a mistake, they did too, and they were as incompetent and wrong as he was. This admission only whets the appetite of the sharks in the media. They sense weakness on the President’s part. 

AIM has produced an excellent film, Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope [1], which makes a positive case for the invasion of Iraq. It sets the record straight on a series of media myths. But the administration has been reluctant to take on the media. It will take on the opposition party but only in the sense of saying that they were as wrong about WMD in Iraq as the Republicans were. This is a losing strategy.

The AIM film, produced by AIM media analyst Roger Aronoff, has its Washington, D.C. screening on Thursday night. The American University Foreign Policy Association, Capitol Conservatives, and Accuracy in Media are hosting the D.C. premiere at 7:30 p.m. on American University’s Campus. This film deserves a national audience.

One of the points I make in the film is that we have to be brutally honest about the intentions of some of those opposed to the Iraq War policy. I note that leftist filmmaker Michael Moore has openly praised the Iraqi insurgents as the equivalent of America’s revolutionary war heroes.

In other words, Moore wants the other side to win.

Among prominent Republicans, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been virtually alone in saying that there is an organized element in the Democratic Party that wants the U.S. to fail in Iraq.

Gingrich is a partisan Republican, but his point is validated by the actions of the Democratic Party during the Vietnam War. The war in Vietnam was launched by the Hanoi communists and the U.S. responded under two Democratic Presidents, John F. Kennedy and LBJ. But when Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford took control of the White House, the Democratic-controlled Congress undermined the U.S. side of the war by talking about deadlines in getting out and eventually cutting funds to our South Vietnamese allies. South Vietnam collapsed and millions died.

The same scenario is being put into motion today.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld makes a valid point when he says that President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which was passed by Congress. More than that, Clinton launched a mini-war on Iraq, without congressional approval, in 1998. Yet Clinton today says the war in Iraq was a mistake. His comments reflect the prevailing view of the Democratic Party. They will not hesitate to flip-flop when they can score political points. 

Some might respond that, in contrast to Vietnam, the situation today is different. After all, Republicans didn’t control Congress during Vietnam under Presidents Nixon and Ford but they do so today. That, of course, is just a temporary situation. 

As one of our astute readers has pointed out, the “media storm” surrounding the Iraq War policy―that Bush lied or misled the nation into war―has taken hold in the country. It is a completely bogus rendering of the facts and yet it has become the accepted truth. The strategy is straightforward and simple: “Drive Bush’s approval ratings down, worry legislators about their re-election prospects, and then get the legislators to distance themselves from the President. It’s really insidious stuff.”

The results were apparent when the Senate passed a resolution demanding progress reports from the administration on the war. Senate Republicans beat back a Democratic resolution requiring a deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, but the Republican alternative still sends the message that Congress may not stay the course and that many members lack the resolve to continue the war. 

The “media storm” is obviously designed to spark a Democratic takeover of the U.S. Congress in 2006 and then impeachment proceedings against Bush.

At this point in time, there is no indication that Republicans in Congress or the White House are prepared to survive or escape the storm. They don’t even seem to know what’s hitting them.