E.J. Dionne has the president's number--57 percent of the American people think he misled us into a war in Iraq. And he brings up a point that has been absent from the debate as Bush calls those who question the war unpatriotic:
There is a great missing element in the argument over whether the administration manipulated the facts. Neither side wants to talk about the context in which Bush won a blank check from Congress to invade Iraq. He doesn't want us to remember that he injected the war debate into the 2002 midterm election campaign for partisan purposes, and he doesn't want to acknowledge that he used the post-Sept. 11 mood to do all he could to intimidate Democrats from raising questions more of them should have raised.Dionne notes that few Democrats had the courage to stand up to Bush (Paul Wellstone did, but his plane crashed). And while Democrats should be chastised for that failure of courage, it's also fair to remind people that when he forced a vote on the war in Iraq weeks before the 2002 election, Bush had an astronomical approval rating, and the nation was still in a post-9/11 mood for blood that is only now beginning to retreat in favor of reasoned debate.
But Bush is in a different position now, and his ranging attacks on anyone who dares to criticize the way the war began just won't play with the public. The folks who said, last year, that Bush deserved to be re-elected so he could be called to account for his first-term actions may have had a point. It's not worth letting the Supreme Court turn into Vatican West, but there is a certain consolation in getting to watch this terrible president, and his terrible crew of cronies, forced to deal with the mess they've made.