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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Eyes On the Big Prize

There’s a big push all over the left-of-center blogosphere and elsewhere (from so many sources that I won’t bother to link to any of them) to capitalize on last week’s indictments and the underlying issues to focus like a laser beam on the administration’s manipulation of the evidence supporting their case for the invasion of Iraq.I understand and agree with the argument that the White House behavior exposed in connection with the Libby indictments helps show the extent to which the administration was willing to say anything and do anything to stampede the country and the Congress to war in 2003.But I don’t understand, and don’t agree with, a strategy that limits the indictment of the administration’s dishonest and manipulative habits to Iraq policy.The Fitzgerald indictments, and all the evidence that’s come out before and after the special prosecutor’s actions, reinforce a vast pattern of administration misbehavior on a vast array of issues, including, but not limited to, the effort to rally the country to launch the Iraq adventure.Democrats have two simple options here:We can insist on obsessively limiting our critique to Iraq.Or we can argue that the behavior of Libby, Rove, Cheney, and Bush himself in this case illustrates the mendacity, incompetence, arrogance, and intimidation strategies of this administration on Iraq, on the War on Terrorism, on the federal budget, on taxes, on Katrina recovery, on health care policy, on the economy, on government ethics, on corporate responsibility, on science policy, on No Child Left Behind, on voting rights, on civil rights–well, on so many issues I can barely list them.Unless you believe that the original decision to invade Iraq is the alpha and omega of American politics–recognizing, of course, that this was a decision on which Republicans were united and Democrats were divided–I really can’t imagine why Democrats would want to pursue the single-issue implications of one more example of the administration’s betrayal of public trust, instead of connecting the dots to every other betrayal.I’ve generally assumed that the one thing that unites all Democrats today is the overriding desire to drive the corrupt and incompetent and ideologically bent GOP from power. That’s why I implore Democrats to keep their eyes on the big prize, and not get dragged off into the self-defeating blind alley of making future elections nothing more than a retroactive referendum on why the country, and many Democrats, supported the decision to invade Iraq.We have a more compelling case to take to the country, which includes, but is hardly limited to, the administration’s failures in Iraq, and we need to make it.

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