There's a good EJ Dionne column today on the impact of the revelation (to many Americans) that what you know about Iraq and this election is true even if the Bush WH says otherwise.
What could prove to be the most important factor in the 2006 elections is overlooked because it is unseen: The Republicans cannot try to curry favor with a "silent majority" that favors the Iraq war because a majority of Americans, both vocal and quiet, have come to see the war as a mistake.
President Bush's defenders have cast opponents of the war as weak on terrorism. Yesterday, Vice President Cheney accused Democrats of "resignation and defeatism." But the charges have not taken hold, because most Americans don't agree with the premise linking the war on terror with the war in Iraq.
Not only that, but the loyal opposition has learned the counter-play:
And blame for the failures in Iraq has fallen not on some liberal coterie supposedly holding our generals back but on the choices of civilians in a conservative administration. Those civilians, and their allies outside the administration, find themselves under increasing fire from leaders of the military and the intelligence services for bad planning, flawed analysis and unrealistic expectations.
Moreover, the tone of the opposition to this war is quite different from the tenor of some sections of the movement against the Vietnam War. Reaction to "hippie protesters," as the phrase went, allowed President Richard Nixon to pit a hardworking, patriotic "silent majority" -- it was one of the most politically potent phrases of his presidency -- against the privileged, the young and the media, whom his vice president Spiro Agnew memorably characterized as "effete snobs" and "nattering nabobs of negativism."...
By contrast, critics of the Iraq war, deeply influenced by the post-Sept. 11 climate of national solidarity, have been resolutely patriotic and pro-military. They have often chastised the administration for offering American troops too little in the way of body armor and armored vehicles, and for shortchanging veterans.
Trying to cast critics as "the vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left" (Broder) or "the left-wing bloggers foaming so uncontrollably" (Brooks) doesn't really work, particularly because so few people read TimesSelect. But when bloggers point out that some of our opinion columnists are routinely writing with more opinion than fact on war and peace, and are on the wrong side of the argument, and the NIE supports that contention, apologies from the professional apologists aren't necessary.
Nor is there any way to dismiss the assessment as partisan, left-wing or unpatriotic. That high-level government officials have
offered their own criticisms of the war's impact makes it difficult for Republicans to force the argument into a classic "he said-she said" framework in which facts can be set aside and the claims of critics dismissed as political.
Here's the bottom line:
That is why news over the weekend of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is especially troublesome for Republican electoral chances. By finding that the war in Iraq has encouraged global terrorism and spawned a new generation of Islamic radicals, the report by 16 government intelligence services undercuts the administration's central argument that the Iraq war has made the United States safer.
The Rise of Jihadistan
Five years after the Afghan invasion, the Taliban are fighting back hard, carving out a sanctuary where they--and Al Qaeda's leaders--can operate freely
This is an accountability election, and by supporting George W Bush, Republicans are accountable for the mess. That's a concept even an opinion columnist can understand. But as usual, the public (including bloggers) are way ahread of them.