He's hoping to rewind far enough that the intel failures will be back in the bag where they can’t bother his administration. Too late.
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President Bush today kicked off his drive to regain credibility with the American public by returning to some tried-and-true themes: That fears of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction justified the war and that his critics are only helping the evil-doers.

Is anyone surprised at how full of shit he is? President Bush accuses his opponents of trying to “rewrite the history of how the war began,” when in fact he’s trying to turn the clock back to a time when more people bought his line of nonsense.

According to today’s New York Times, Bush’s speech was the first shot in a new PR offensive to turn around his flagging presidency.

"It will be the most direct refutation of the Democrat charges you've seen probably since the election," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to outline a strategy that has not yet become public and will play out over several weeks through presidential speeches, close coordination with Republicans on Capitol Hill and a stepped-up effort by the Republican National Committee.

Bush this afternoon, according to the AP:

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges,'' the president said in his combative Veterans Day speech.

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,'' the president said.

He’s absolutely correct of course. The stakes are too high for that kind of cheap politicking. And now isn’t the time to rewrite history. Of course as the author of cheap political tricks designed to rewrite history, he’s aiming the charges in the wrong direction.

Bush said that foreign intelligence services and Democrats and Republicans alike were convinced at the time that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

"Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and mislead the American people about why we went to war,'' Bush said.

The problem here is that Bush and his cronies are trying to pull a bait-and-switch on pre-war intelligence. While administration critics question whether intelligence was manipulated, he’s trying to argue that that doesn’t matter because the intelligence was bad anyway.

As I have said before, these are two distinct and important issues. He’s correct that folks on both sides of the aisle believed that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons.

But in politics enough is never enough. The Bush administration was apparently not satisfied with that widespread belief. Instead they felt they had to pump up the bogeyman.

We now know, for example, that administration officials kept plugging the Iraq-Niger-uranium deal that Bush plugged in his famous State of the Union despite repeated warnings from the CIA that it was bad intel. We now know that administration officials kept plugging the story of Iraq-al Qaeda cooperation despite warnings from the DIA that its source was a liar. Hey: These nuggets backed up Cheney and company’s pre-conceived notions, which apparently made them credible.

So Bush is trying to push back the clock. He hopes to rewind far enough that these incidents will be back in the bag where they can’t bother his administration. Too late.

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