The meme du Jour from Bush-backers and continued supporters of our occupation of Iraq is that Democrats are engaging in historical revisionism by asserting they were "misled" into supporting the invasion. This is termed unpatriotic, by the leading light of the online Right. I call bullshit.
But first the quote:
And yes, he should question their patriotism. Because they're acting unpatriotically.
Patriotic people could -- and did -- oppose the war. But so did a lot of scoundrels. And some who supported the war were not patriotic, if they did it out of opportunism or political calculation rather than honest belief. Those who are now trying to recast their prior positions through dishonest rewriting of history are not patriotic now, nor were they when they supported the war, if they did so then out of opportunism --which today's revisionist history suggests.
My first impression is there's a bit difference between "not patriotic" and "unpatriotic," and the rhetoric is all over the map. After all, patriotism isn't a binary litmus that can be applied to every action and thought. But anyway, Glenn Reynolds sort of has a point here in so much as its hard to believe that Senators Kerry, Clinton, Edwards et al were really just wide-eyed does who let their trust in our Dear Leader carry their hearts away in supporting his war.
But really, that's neither here nor there. The point is that it's now almost impossible for folks to ignore the evidence that the White House was explicitly and intentionally dishonest in making its case for war. The operative question is whether or not that bothers you.
It bothers me. How about you?
Even if I believe many Democrats' decision to support Bush in 2002 was influenced by political expediency (and I do), that doesn't mean they weren't also being misled at the time. It also doesn't mean that the piece of legilsation they all voted for was an authorization of invasion. And it's not rewriting history to say, hey, we fucked up. We blew it. If we knew then what we know now, we would have acted differently.
At the time Bush was playing two gambits. First of all, he was making all sorts of noise about working through the UN, it's all about the inspections, etc. I remember being taken in by one of his early speeches on this, thinking, "hey, if he can get the UN to really do it, maybe that'll be a step forward for all of us." By the time things got around to a vote on Capitol Hill, it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize Bush was only interested in the UN as far as they provided him with political cover, but the bill they were voting on was about inspections, not pre-emptive invasion.
That's bum behavior enough, but it's the second part of Bush's war-pitch baboozle that's really gotten him in trouble with the Public. It's now roundly understood that the White House Iraq Group was selectively sharing intelligence with Congress and the Senate in order to maximize hype, and hide any intel that would have cast doubt on the notion that Saddam was an imminent threat. They were cherry-picking what they gave the Senate, and in public they were selectively quoting that selectively-shared intelligence in an acknowledged campaign to whip up public support -- to "sell" the war, so to speak.
Here's what the "sales" process boils down to: you create pain in your customer and presenting your product as the answer to that pain. Sometimes the pain is really there and sometimes the thing you're selling is actually a solution, but usually not on both counts. It is an inherantly dishonest process. I know this. I've done in-home hard-sells of a $1,500 vaccuum-cleaner; the sell works because we used these small paper pads to catch the dirt from 10-seconds worth of vaccuuming and left them scattered all over someone's living room until they cracked and bought the thing. In essence, the idea was to make people feel their house is full of filth and this "cleaning system" is the only way out. The guys who were really good would say, "Just keep pulling up dirt pads. Everyone has a breaking point."
This is a pretty brute-force example, but most advertisements work on a similar level of peddling fantasies to elicit an emotional longing for the product. Coors Light comes with sexy blond twins! Oh, wait. I meant a hangover. See the car rocketing across the desert? Freedom! Yes! This is what I need in my life! Oh wait. Buy the car, sit in traffic. Huh.
The reason sales actually works in the long run is that buyers usually find something to like about what they purchased -- Coors Light does get you drunk; the car handles well, etc -- so in the end they don't feel angry at the person who got them over the hump to buy it.
Problem with the War is there's not much to like. In fact, it's pretty much been a disaster, and the more you pay attention the worse it gets. People feel hoodwinked. They've been sold a bum bill of goods. They've been misled.
I would argue that the tactics of Sales were even more expertly deployed in the lobbying that went on in and around DC in late 2002/early 2003 than they were on the public relations front, which mostly amounted to fear-based propaganda. Remember, the insider-support for the war was far greater than actual Public support all the way down the line. The Bush team did a very good job of painting most of DC and the Press into a corner where there was a painful amount of pressure, and the quickest way to get it off you was to say you "supported the President in disarming a Dictator."
So is there a little opportunism at work here? Probably. But killing 10s of 1000s of people puts you pretty far into karma deficit, so suck it up. If the Democrats have any sense they'll pound Bush repeatedly on this, beat him like the adopted national crack-baby that he is, turn his whole second term into a carnival of lame duckatude.
You reap what you sow, fuckers.