In their now-classic tone deaf style, the White House's response to being under siege on matters of war and intelligence is of course not to come clean or attempt to repair credibility damage, but to simply double down and repeat the same BS that got them into trouble before, only louder. CNN's Dana Bash ran a curious piece on Tuesday telegraphing that effort:
Top White House officials say they're developing a "campaign-style" strategy in response to increasing Democratic allegations that the Bush administration twisted intelligence to make its case for war.
White House aides, who agreed to speak to CNN only on the condition of anonymity, said they hoped to increase what they called their "hit back" in coming days.
The officials say they plan to repeatedly make the point -- as they did during the 2004 campaign -- that pre-war intelligence was faulty, it was not manipulated and everyone was working off the same intelligence.
They hope to arm GOP officials with more quotes by Democrats making the same pre-war claims as Republicans did about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. [emph original]
This isn't likely going to be news to anyone, although the Columbia Journalism Review's blog was rather incredulous that Bash so blithely reported the use of the MSM to push this tripe into the public discourse--while helping the White House push the tripe into the public discourse. They're not sure whether Bash is hoping that by pointing out the effort, she'll get off the hook for helping them recycle the message--or she's simply helping to recycle the message so she can file a story and go home.
Given this effort, it's no surprise to open The O this morning and discover that Associate Editor David Reinhard got the email, or the Blackberry, or fax, or whatever secret pipeline the White House uses to push its sewage through the system. See if you recognize these themes:
Did the White House "manipulate" prewar intel? If so -- and that's by no means established -- it had company. The Clinton team was making the same claims as Bush's. So were other foreign governments. So were congressional Democrats prior to the Iraq war.
For starters, it's time the Bush White House -- not just the Republican National Committee or some Capitol Hill Republicans -- meet every Democratic charge with a counter-charge of hypocrisy and back the counter-charge up with video clips or transcripts.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is similarly concerned. But here's what West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller said before the war: "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."
Was he manipulating prewar intel or trying to mislead the public? Or is he now trying to manipulate and mislead the public on the use of prewar intel?
The latter, of course. And the fact that even the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is engaging in such opportunistic politics should tell the White House it's time to fire back.
As a lame way of covering his tracks, Reinhard frames his attack as some kind of fair and balanced spur on the White House to nut up and counter the hypocrisy of the Left--as if he's somehow out of the loop, unaware of the PR effort but amazingly saying exactly the same things the administration wants him to say.
Perhaps he listened to Ken Mehlman's RNC concall yesterday, where Mehlman tried vainly to claim a victory for the status quo in the wake of Tuesday's elections--but nonetheless managed to sneak in some commentary on Democrats who supported the war. Reinhard in his column veers off a bit into Theme 1B, Re-Discrediting Joe Wilson, but it's all part of the same package: Liar? Who's a liar? If we're liars, then you're liars too! The unending capacity of the administration and its shills to deflect criticism by rabidly attacking the attacker in a hail of distortions, is nonetheless wearing thin. Enjoy if you can this closing act of the pathetic passion play, a new script is currently being written.