The boys of October
When I started this site some months ago, I promised myself to avoid "salty" language. Brackish maybe, but no brine. Yet, as much as I enjoy politics, this promise is being sorely tested. Watching the World Series doesn't help, either.
Every presidential election seems to bring with it an October Surprise. In 1992 it was Lawrence Walsh's indictment of Caspar Weinberger, formerly Secretary of Defense under Reagan. This distracted the Bush 41 campaign and gave Clinton just the edge he needed to win. Never mind the charges were later overturned-- it was the opportunity for 11th hour political theater that mattered.
In 2000, it was revealed George W. Bush had been arrested years earlier and charged with drunken driving. Not a huge deal, but just enough to turn off some evangelical voters and give Gore a popular majority. But for the grace of the Electoral College, Gore might have won the election. Whew!
Last minute political ambushes in this, the world's oldest democracy, have been going on for more than a century. This year's October Surprise has Bush bungling the war in Iraq, failing to secure hundreds of tons of high explosives, despite pre-invasion warnings from the United Nations.
Except, the evidence points to the material being removed from the suspect site sometime prior to the invasion. Just based on the initial information provided by the New York Times ambushers-- if carefully examined-- the preponderance of evidence suggests no wrongdoing on the part of anyone except Saddam Hussein, and likely the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA said they had "sealed" the explosives bunkers with IAEA markings and then warned the Bush administration about them.
Here is the problem. The New York Times worked with CBS's 60 Minutes to develop this story, (registration required) which contains its own discrediting paragraph:
But apparently, little was done. A senior Bush administration official said that during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces "went through the bunkers, but saw no materials bearing the I.A.E.A. seal." It is unclear whether troops ever returned.
If the troops looked, but did not see IAEA seals, then I guess the explosives were already gone. Does that not seem obvious? Not to the New York Times, whose headline proclaimed "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq", suggesting we had it, but then lost it. Curiously, this becomes an immediate speech-feed to John Kerry.
The play did not fo quite as planned. The real plan was for CBS's 60 Minutes to pitch this greaseball Sunday night, less than 48 hours before the election. The heat of the story began to leak out and the New York Times was forced to go to press prematurely. Oh dang, October Surprise spoiled. Spoiled and discredited. Take that, you dirty... oops, never mind.
Ironically, what tripped the New York Times and CBS News conspirators was another member of the mainstream media-- NBC News. It turns out they had a reporter "embedded" with the 101st Airborne unit at the time of the invasion. The 101st took possession of the particular weapons site in the early days of the war. They inspected the site but found no such explosives, nor IAEA tags. The reporter in question, who now works for FoxNews, says he did not see any IAEA seals of any sort.
Of course, someone might have smuggled something out in their lunch box while the soldiers were not looking. Hell, (oops!) even Sandy Berger might have smuggled it out in his pants and socks had he been in Iraq. But, 300-plus tons of high explosive seems unlikely to have been smuggled out after the invasion without notice, regardless of presumed incompetence on anyone's part. 40 truckloads is a lot to sneak and hide, even in the fog of war.
Okay, so the New York Times and CBS News don't like Bush and are willing to conspire to thwart the election. Bad enough, but we apparently have to tolerate a "free" press, no matter how badly we want to burn the bas... oops, there's that promise.
Okay, so oddly enough, John Kerry has enough immediate command of the story's details to deliver a blistering speech that condemns Bush for a huge blunder. And Edwards too. They just got an early copy of the Times and ad libbed their speeches. Sure.
Then the NBC story comes out and reveals the explosives were not there at the time of the invasion. It certainly appears nobody in the White House screwed up. So, story over, right? It's a swing and a miss!
Kerry turns up the heat. Not only do he and Edwards repeat the charges, but suddenly there is a new television commercial on that very topic. Kerry looks into the camera and assures us... blah blah blah.
Look, boys. Your surprise was foiled. You tried a double play but bounced the ball off your chins. Give it up. The more you press it, the more transparent your methods become, the more obvious is your linkage to the left-wing press. They may be your bat boys, but you are certainly no Red Sox.
Just to clarify the matter: given what we know of the story, including the original New York Times reportage, the evidence suggests we never had control of the explosives. Yet, Kerry flat-out insists Bush let this material get swiped. Tell the lie, shout it out, repeat, repeat...
Is anyone fooled here? At long last, is it not clear to absolutely everyone breathing that this is a dirtball political trick?
I suspect a huge backlash to roil up this week, fueled by us bleacher-bums in the blogosphere. Look at the suspects: Kerry/Edwards. New York Times. CBS News. It's a triad of deceit, each with its own sordid track record. It is clear those characters will do and say anything to overturn this presidency. No bounds, practical or moral. Anything to win, fair or foul, including mugging the opponent with your bat.
It's enough to make you cuss.