The latest dispatches from the campaign trail
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Hell Freezes Over (Or: Hutchison Admits Bush Got Iraq Wrong)Need any further proof that the Iraq war is a failure? Just look at Oct. 19's televised debate between the Texas candidates for U.S. Senate, and note that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has joined the GOP rats who've jumped ship. Okay, maybe that's overstating it a bit, but the fact that Hutchison distanced herself at all from President Bush's Iraq policy after almost six years as a staunch ally is telling.
Hutchison's bombshell came when the Houston Chronicle's Clay Robison asked her, "Although we know a little bit more about Iraq than we did three years ago when we got involved in this war, had you known then that there were apparently no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that there are apparently no ties to al Qaeda, would you have voted the same way on the Iraq war resolution?"
"Clay, if I had known then what I know now about the weapons of mass destruction, which was a key reason that I voted to go in there, I would not vote to go into Iraq the way we did," Hutchison said. Then she qualified her stunner: "But I have to say, I don't think the president would have asked for that vote either." (We might recommend our senior senator read Ron Suskind's biography of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty, wherein O'Neill exposes how the Bushites were planning the invasion eight months before 9/11, or even the infamous Downing Street memo, wherein British senior ministers secretly expressed concern that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of the Bush administration. But we digress.)
Her qualification continued, "We had intelligence that we relied on. So did the British. They had the same intelligence. Everyone thought they had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein had kicked the weapons inspectors out in 1998, which led everyone to believe that there weapons of mass destruction." (Um, okay, back to our digression. And while you're there, ask some actual weapons inspectors if they agree, such as the former 1998 U.N. weapons inspector to which she refers, Scott Ritter, or his successor, Hans Blix. Okay, we'll stop now.) Hutchison made sure to finish with the perfunctory invocation of That Horrible Event That Had Nothing to Do With Iraq: Bush "was trying to make sure that America was not hit with another 9/11 with a weapon of mass destruction. And he believed, I think, that Iraq was a place that had the weapons and had the capacity to deliver them."
The admission was made even more surprising by the fact that it just handed red meat to her main opponent, Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky. "At the time of the Iraqi war resolution, Senator [Bob] Graham of Florida stood on the floor of the Senate and, in an unusual move, begged his colleagues to read the secret papers that we weren't privy to. We now know that those secret papers revealed that the weapons of mass destruction documentation from the CIA was quite skeptical. I don't believe that our senators read the secret documents. I didn't have access to the secret papers, but I've read Senator Graham's book [Intelligence Matters] and read it thoroughly. I will tell you that any senator who didn't do as their colleagues begged was derelict in their abilities to lead. We need new leadership in this country. We've been disappointed by what they've done in Iraq. What a telling comment by my colleague."
At press time, it isn't known if the debate had changed the race dynamics. An Oct. 16 Zogby poll showed a huge lead for Hutchison, at 60% vs. Radnofsky's 28%. L.N.