By now most readers will have seen the TV clip that recently surfaced on YouTube and other websites showing Dick Cheney in 1994 explaining -- in his usual condescending tone -- precisely why America should NOT invade or occupy Iraq. The full litany of reasons -- including the reticence to waste American lives on the endeavor is beyond any definition of irony.
The "Vice" President has yet to offer an explanation for the staggering 180-degree turnaround of his views. Apart from the reflexive catch-all excuse "this was before 9/11" -- maybe he will offer that whopper offered by all exposed humbug-wafflers: "My remarks are being taken out of context."
(I've often thought that I should start a magazine called Context -- just to be able to issue publisher's denials that such miscreants had ever been quoted IN Context...)
But beyond the obvious ire that this clip raises among the truly moral majority of people in America and around the world who oppose the war for exactly the reasons that Cheney outlined in 1994 -- is a profoundly disturbing matter.
This interview with Cheney took place on April 14th 1994. NINETEEN NINETY FOUR. Ten and a half years before the 2004 Presidential Elections.
In January 2004, the DNC knew (one hopes) that there was going to be a Presidential Election in November 2004.
The DNC knew from at least January 2004 that the Iraq War was going to be a major issue. Most commentators were predicting this from the moment the illusion of the slam-dunk liberation started to evaporate in the summer of 2003.
So why on earth did the DNC not discover and secure a copy of this videotape at some point between the invasion of Iraq in May 2003 and the election in November 2004?
Or at the very least why did they not secure a transcript of Cheney's utterly damaging words.
Imagine the impact ...
Why didn't the campaign of John Kerry -- led by Bob Shrum (the self-styled "strategist" who in 2004 proudly declared that he didn't use computers or e-mail) -- find this tape or transcript?
Kerry was under fire in the summer of 2004 for being a "flip-flopper". Imagine the power of elections ads showing Cheney in 1994 -- flat-out contradicting Cheney in 2004. Republicans would have been too busy planning to fire-bomb C-Span to have time to level such comparatively fatuous accusations at Kerry.
But the DNC and Kerry campaigns failed miserably.
The name of this game is Oppo Research.
Two days before the 2000 election, as I watched what should have been Gore's landslide election victory disappear into the horizon, I wrote what i called a PRE-Mortem of the election in one of my columns for TIME.com.
My column reported on a new BBC documentary that showed the RNC's then head of Oppo Research -- one Tim Griffin (later to be rewarded for his seditious work by Karl Rove gifting him with the job of one of those Republican Attorneys -- sacked for the crime of not being sycophantic enough to Bush) hard at work sabotaging the Gore campaign. (Not that Gore and -- yes Bob Shrum again -- weren't doing a pretty good job of screwing it up themselves.)
Griffin and his team were superb at digging up the most minute examples of contradictions by Gore. And this was still in the comparative infancy of the Google search engine era. A lot of the RNC work was old-fashioned detective work. Of course it then took Karl Rove & co to manipulate the uncovered speeches and soundbites and blow discrepancies up out of all proportion.
The 2008 election is going to be no less combative. And probably far, far worse.
One hopes that the DNC will politely decline offers of help from Bob Shrum (currently batting 0-8 in Presidential election campaigns.)
The RNC -- no doubt with help and guidance from Karl Rove and all the young "lads" he's been "grooming" since 2000 (just as he was groomed by Donald Segretti and Lee Atwater) -- will be digging deeper than ever for shards and specks of past speeches and utterances with which to slime the Democratic candidates for President, Senate and House.
The RNC has been preparing for the November 2008 elections since January 2001. So it has already amassed a gargantuan databank of innocent soundbites ready to twist into damaging adverts.
That is why the failure of the DNC -- and indeed of other organizations such as MoveOn.org - to discover and expose the 1994 Cheney video clip or transcript until very recently -- is so worrying.
A quick look at YouTube reveals that there were a couple of shorter audio versions of this interview posted by an individual as early as July of 2006. But why didn't the DNC or MoveOn track down the video clip till 5 days ago?
I titled my November 2000 column for TIME describing the dirty work of the RNC Oppo Research team after a war slogan that Tim Griffin had placed on his bunker-style office wall. "Unleash Hell On Al" And so they did ...
If the Democrats intend to reclaim the White House in 2008 -- and intend to secure comfortable majorities in the Senate and House -- then the DNC, MoveOn.org and other groups who support a civilized, progressive agenda had better be a lot more alert and effective at digging up such hidden ammunition than they appear to have been in the case of Cheney's 1994 "Iraq-Quagmire" interview.
It is never to soon to unleash hell on conservatives...