an interesting read: a conservative's take on the w.m.d. issue (doug bandow works for the cato institute)
as i wrote before, i think the big lie was about saddam's alleged ties to al-qaeda. it was the alleged saddam-osama connection, and not the w.m.d. issue that, i think, got most americans to support an invasion. even now, 52% believe the u.s has found clear evidence that saddam worked with al-qaeda, when, in fact, no such evidence has ever been disclosed to the public. (contrast this with the situation after u.s. troops entered kabul and paraded reporters through several al-qaeda safe houses. the fact that this has not happened in baghdad speaks volumes). while the w.m.d. issue and saddam's alleged violation of u.n. security council resolutions is what bush used as a legal justification for an invasion, i believe the average american was thinking of striking back against the 9-11 perpetrators, not the sanctity of international law
still, it is interesting to watch the bush administration flail about trying to explain away what is becoming increasingly evident; the fact that bush lied about iraq's attempts to acquire nuclear materials during his state of the union address. seriously, read the transcript in the "flail about" link. its fun to imagine ari squirm
on a related point, does it bother anyone else that bush never takes questions from the press? clinton seemed to have press conferences every other second. when was the last time you saw bush at a free form press conference with reporters shouting out questions?
the last bush press conference was hardly free form. it was on march 6, 2003, shortly before the war began. the conference was notable for several reasons beyond the fact that bush rarely gives them. first, bush had a list of who he would call on, he did not call on any reporters who were not on his list
second, at a time that there was serious anti-war protests throughout the united states, bush got surprisingly easy questions about iraq. third, several commentators noted that bush appeared to be answering the questions with pre-prepared answers, rather than speaking off the cuff. finally, and most surprisingly, bush seemed to make a freudian slip during the press conference, saying "this is  scripted".*
whether or not you believe the 3/6/03 conference was "scripted," it does make me wonder why bush is not willing to be questioned by reporters. doesn't he feel capable of defending his own policies? i suspect that, his handlers at least, think not. but what does that say about his competency as a president? interestingly, in the past two days 2 new york times columnists have noted that bush does not answer questions about his policies from the press. william safire approves of the practice (see the third to last "nixon answer" in the column). nicholas kristof does not. i find it hard to image how anything but kristof's view is compatable with democracy.
*i chose this link because it includes a link to the official white house transcript, an mp3 audio clip, and a video clip of the "this is a scripted..." moment in the press conference.