Intelligence findings present political obstacle for Republicans
WASHINGTON - A newly disclosed intelligence assessment that contradicts President Bush's claim that the war in Iraq has made America safer also casts doubt on the Republican campaign strategy for the November elections.National Security
Democrats seized on the intelligence findings Sunday to challenge Republican assertions that Bush and his congressional allies offer the best protection against terrorists. The assessment, the consensus opinion of the entire federal intelligence network, concluded that the Iraq war has fueled Islamic extremism and contributed to the spread of terror cells.
Republican strategists are hoping that voter confidence in Bush's handling of terrorism will help their party retain control of Congress.A big if! The Democrats have not shown any particular ability to take advantage of such opportunities and the pro-war media will do all they can to diffuse any advantages for the Democrats. This NIE does not tell us anything that we didn't know already. The Republicans are slick - able to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" while the Democrats can make a cows ear out of a silk purse.
"The Bush administration lives or dies, in terms of national security, on the claim that they have indeed made America safer," said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. "This is at the heart of the Republican rationale for continued control of government." He called the report "kryptonite for Superman," referring to the substance that disabled the comic book hero.
But Goldford said the political impact depends on "how skillful the Democrats are in exploiting" the newly disclosed intelligence findings.
"Never underestimate the Republicans' ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and never underestimate the Democrats' ability to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse," he said.