Most Americans continue to believe that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack. The politics of this break down pretty clearly: Those who believe that Iraq was behind 9/11 support Bush’s position on the war and therefore support Bush. Those who do not believe this do not support Bush’s position on the war and do not support Bush. Bush’s entire political advantage going into 2004 is based on this public perception.
Many “moderate” Democrats take the position that, since most of the public currently believes that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, it is therefore foolish to go against the grain and claim otherwise. Their political position is that it is not politically advantageous to disagree with a majority of the public regardless of where the facts lie on a given issue. They say that Dean is way out of “the mainstream” for saying that invading Iraq and capturing Saddam was a strategic mistake that has not made us safer.
It may be true on any given day that it is a politically risky position to contradict what the public believes. Doing so leaves you open to opportunistic attacks from those who would prefer that the public remain deceived for their own political advantage. On any given day this may be a political reality. But what happens when you take a position that is at odds with the facts — as well as at odds with the overall good of the country — and do so for short term political advantage, and then the public’s understanding of the facts changes? Doesn’t today’s convenient political position bring with it the risk that public understanding of an issue will change tomorrow, leaving you looking foolish and opportunistic? Isn’t it therefore better in the longer term to take positions that agree with the truth and facts of an issue, and the good of the country?
Those of us who follow the news know that it is not true that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. This means that, as the facts come out, more and more people will come to understand that since Iraq was not behind 9/11, the invasion of that country was a foolish diversion from protecting us against those who were responsible for 9/11. As time passes the number of people supporting Bush on this issue can only decline, because the facts do not support his position. Between now and the election facts are not going to emerge that support the public’s belief that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, but since facts exist that contradict this belief, some or many of them might emerge and affect public understanding and change the poll numbers.
Furthermore, we must realize that those who believe Bush and think that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack are not going to vote for anyone but Bush. So supporting this position only to appear to be siding with the majority will not help Democrats politically.
It makes sense to take the opposing position — the one that also agrees with the facts and the one that is in the best interest of the country — and oppose Bush on this Iraq war issue. Democrats should that a position advocating protecting the country from the real terrorists rather than diverting attention and resources. It is the task of Bush’s opponents to find ways to inform the public of the facts. As more people become aware of the facts they will move from support of Bush’s position to support of Dean’s.