It started with Karl Rove implying that liberals were unappreciative of the impact of 9/11. The undercurrent that somehow the war in Iraq and 9/11 were connected, a connection denied by President Bush himself, began to come to the surface coincidentally or not when the Downing Street Memos and related stories began to get some traction and go from the realm of the “so-called” to the “now-famous.” President Bush alluded to 9/11 five times last night at Fort Bragg. He did not make the direct link, but he folded it in neatly with the whole sprectrum of the global war on terror in the same way General Motors used to imply that a Chevrolet was as much a part of Americana as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.
Now we’re getting it in the mainstream. This morning CNN had a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Robin Hayes: “I’m saying that Saddam Hussein … and people like him were very much involved in 9/11.” He offered no proof but hinted that he’d seen some information that makes the connection, and those who say Saddam Hussein was not involved “haven’t looked in the right places.”
I’m not sure what Rep. Hayes means by “people like him.” People like Saddam; i.e. Middle East dictators? You can’t turn a corner in the Middle East without running into “people like him,” including the Saudi royal family — after all, the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The tangent to that is that Saddam Hussein harbored terrorists before 9/11. Actually, the place where the 9/11 hijackers did most of their training, got most of their money, and got their fake documents was in Florida. So I guess that makes Jeb Bush one of those “people like them.”
Now there’s a new twist to it. They’ve added the mantra that it’s “people like you” — liberal bloggers, pundits, and the occasional rogue Republican like Chuck Hagel or Lindsey Graham — who are making the war hard to win because all this “defeatist” talk is bringing down the morale of our troops. Nice try. If Karl Rove is right, only conservatives are fighting this war — there are no liberals in foxholes — and they don’t listen to us. And if last week’s testimony in the Senate by General Abizaid et al is any guide, it’s the generals at the Pentagon who aren’t so sure they can win this war anytime soon.
I can’t tell if the people behind this latest twist actually believe what they’re saying and are doing this “secret information” bit for real, or this is just another round of ratfucking from Karl Rove, who’s taken a look at the poll numbers and realized that Bush is getting into LBJ-in-1968 territory. Which is it? When President Bush said in 2003 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected with 9/11, was he mistaken? Was his speech last night a backdoor confession that he got it wrong and that Saddam really did have something to do with 9/11? Have we finally broken Saddam Hussein’s will in prison — they switched out his Doritos for Pringles — and he’s finally owned up to plotting 9/11 with Osama bin Laden? (Give the interrogators another week and we’ll find out where the Lindbergh baby is.) Is the White House that brazen to think that the country will now buy into the Saddam-and-9/11 connection, hoping that our attention span is so short from fretting about all the lost pretty women and shark attacks that we’ll go for it like the second Darrin on Bewitched (the TV series, not the movie)? Are they warming us up the to possibility that they’re now going to tell us that they’ve had the real mastermind for 9/11 in jail for a year and a half, and since we can’t find Osama bin Laden, we’ll blame it all on Saddam Hussein?
Either way, it smells like a red herring.