Spin Mode: On!

Most everyone knows that the report came out yesterday stating that Iraq actually had no WMDs. Now we get to sit back and watch the Bush Machine attempt to spin it into good news; or perhaps just into justification for the war. That happened today, as evidence in this Yahoo! account of the day's events:

In his first response to the report by weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, Bush said it showed Saddam was a threat because he was trying to undermine international sanctions "with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

Cheney, in Florida, said the report showed U.N. sanctions were weakening and Saddam would be free to reconstitute his weapons programs once they were gone. He said the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was old news.

Sanctions can weaken? I was sure you could enforce that sort of thing. Certainly, Saddam could try to work around them, but then that's a possibility with most any country that has operated under sanctions. It makes it harder for them to get certain goods, deal with certain other countries. They will always try to find ways around it, but that's why we send in inspectors, keep close tabs on them and pose and stare long enough to make them stop with the bad deeds. But wait, there's more over here:

Vice President Dick Cheney brushed aside the central findings of chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer — that Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either — while Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.

"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions," Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin. "He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word "intent" three times in reference to Saddam's plans to resume making weapons.

This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.

For his part, Cheney dismissed the significance of Duelfer's central findings, telling supporters in Miami, "The headlines all say `no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad.' We already knew that."

The vice president said he found other parts of the report "more intriguing," including the finding that Saddam's main goal was the removal of international sanctions.

"As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, Cheney said.

The report underscored that "delay, defer, wait, wasn't an option," Cheney said. And he told a later forum in Fort Myers, Fla., speaking of the oil-for-food program: "The sanctions regime was coming apart at the seams. Saddam perverted that whole thing and generated billions of dollars."

Yet Bush and Cheney acknowledged more definitively than before that Saddam did not have the banned weapons that both men had asserted he did — and had cited as the major justification before attacking Iraq in March 2003.

Indeed, we should have invaded Iraq solely on the idea that after they finished trading oil for fancy robes, they might have tried to make nuclear weapons again. Of course, no one can prove that, but that's not the point. This whole war hasn't been about "proving" anything. It's about assuming, acting and then denying everything afterwards.

John, Kerry, as you can imagine, had a few choice things to say, today, as the Bush Machine spun and spun:

Ridiculing the Bush administration's evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: "You don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact."

...Kerry, in a campaign appearance in Colorado, said: "The president of the United States and the vice president of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq."

... Kerry, speaking to reporters in Colorado, said Bush and Cheney were in "absolute full spin mode" and "the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq."

He said the administration had "purposefully" cited a long string of inaccurate threat assessments in order to justify the war in Iraq.

"The president shifted the focus from the real enemy, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, to an enemy that they aggrandized and fictionalized, all put forward with an urgency requiring immediate action," Kerry said. "My fellow Americans, you don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact."

His running mate, Sen. John Edwards, said their Republican opponents "are willing to say that left is right, up is down. Dick Cheney and George W. Bush need to recognize that the Earth is actually round and that the sun rises in the east."

Ballsy statements from the Kerry Campaign. They don't normally attack quite so severely, so I wonder what got their confidence up? Oh, right, I guess somthing like this will do it for you:

Sen. John Kerry holds a slim lead over President Bush, according to an Associated Press poll that shows the Democrat gaining ground while Bush lost support on personal qualities, the war in Iraq and national security.

Fewer voters than a month ago believe Bush is the best man to protect the country and fight the war.

The AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, completed on the eve of the second presidential debate, charted a reversal from a month ago, when the Republican incumbent had the momentum and a minuscule lead. Since then, bloodshed increased in Iraq, Kerry sharpened his attacks and Bush stumbled in their initial debate.

Nearly three-fourths of likely voters said they had watched or listened to the first presidential debate last week, according to the poll. Only 8 percent came away with a more favorable view of Bush while 39 percent said they felt better about Kerry.

Among 944 likely voters, the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards led Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney 50 percent to 46 percent. The Oct. 4-6 survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The race was tied 47-47 percent among all voters. Others polls show the race just as tight.

While national polls gauge the potential popular vote, the White House will go to the candidate who wins the state-by-state race for 270 electoral votes. The race is close by that measure, too, with analysts saying a slight shift in the race is capable of swinging several states from one candidate to another.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is far from over. First of all, we still have to perform well tomorrow night and keep leaning on how the Bush team has 'flip-flopped' all over the map with this thing. The race is still close and there's enough election problems remaining that just about anything could and will happen between now and Nov. 2.

The good news, though: some people are starting to to wake up:

George Bush's real political enemy now isn't so much John Kerry as it is the flow of the news. Not long ago, Kerry's decision to attack the president as commander-in-chief (remember all those Swift Boat vets in Boston?) was dismissed by analysts (including me) as naïve at best, folly at worst. Well, it may turn out to have been the move that wins this race.

Presidential campaigns take on a life and shape of their own in the last stretch and this one now has. It's the president desperately trying to tear down Kerry as the news tears down the president. Good things are happening in the war on terrorism — the voting in Afghanistan, for example — but they are all but unnoticed in the rising flood of stories from and about Iraq.

As things now stand, Bush is left with only one argument and justification for having launched a war that has cost 1,000 lives, $150 billion and whatever goodwill America had won in the aftermath of 9/11. His last-resort reason: Saddam Hussein might have developed weapons that he might have given to terrorists that might attack the United States. And even that reasoning is undermined by the new report of the Iraq Survey Group, which says that Saddam's capacities, whatever they might have been, were withering, not "gathering," under the weight of inspections.

We now know to a relative certainty that there were no WMD, no relationship with al-Qaida to speak of, no close ties to other major terrorists, and that, in the view of Paul Bremer — Bush's own man in Baghdad and a fellow Yalie — the Bush administration pretty much botched the occupation.

I'd say that if you've lost Fineman you can pretty much kiss your ass goodbye. He's an excellent commentator and has been supporting the president through most of this, so far as I can tell. Times, they are a changing, but we've gotta keep our heads. Watch tomorrow night, spin it our way, no matter how it turns out(and you know it won't be that bad). Everything else should work out on it's own. It just saddens me how many people are thinking about voting for that nimrod.
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