The Real Lessons...not the Spin
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2004, 1:48pm PT  

After pondering and reading and pondering some more...It seems there is a real lesson to learn from the horror of Madrid. The knee-jerk one, of course, is that Terrorism works. At least that's the one that al-Qaeda will take away, and the one that ought to terrify everyone. But that's a lesson al-Qaeda already knows, in no small part, from the capitulation to Bin Laden demands that has already quietly occured when Bush pulled our troops out of Saudi Arabia. Just as Osama requested on 9/12.

The real lesson is one for the Bush Administration. Though it may contain a bit more nuance than the true DittoHead believers are capable of understanding as I mentioned yesterday. They certainly won't have this nuance explained to them by Lord and Savior Rush.

The lesson that the Bush Administration may or may not begin to understand is that the Conservatives in Spain were ousted by the people not for their stand on Iraq or their complicity with the Bush Administration, but because - in the face of the bombings and the impending elections - they lied to the electorate and expected the people to be dumb enough to fall for it.

The Spanish people are well aware of the type of attacks to expect from ETA (the Basque Terrorists that they have been dealing with for years), and they were smart enough to immediately recognize that the Train Bombings were most definitely not the work of ETA, but the work of al-Qaeda.

None the less, the Conservative Aznar government insisted on trying to sell the idea to the people that it was the work of ETA - a long-time opponent of the Aznar government.

The people knew better. The people didn't appreciate being lied to for political purposes. And so the people removed the Aznar government.

It is that lesson which ought to be sending a chill through the Karl Rove Bunch right about now. But they've proven themselves willing to put their head in the sand before, so only time will tell if they will finally get it, or if they will continue on their current trajectory towards defeat this November by trying - as Aznar did - to obfuscate what the People are able to see quite clearly.

See the fascinating broken English letter to Tom Tomorrow from a Spanish voter for one inside account of what happened there last week.

On the homefront then, Bush needs to put the lesson learned into action immediately if he wants a chance of hanging onto Power this November (and we all know they want nothing more desperately than that).

They best heed the warnings coming from inside their very own base and come clean about their various and numerous failures in their mismanaged "War on Terror".

As the excellent David Corn pointed out, the "Washington Post quoted a Senior CIA official last week as stating that thanks to the war in Iraq, the CIA 'is stretched beyond their limits.'"

He goes on to point to more failures and misdirections currently being obfuscated by this Administration:

It's not just the usual anti-war types who have argued that Bush undermined the war on terror with his war in Iraq. In December, the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College published a report that harshly called the war on Iraq �an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al Qaeda. The war against Iraq was not integral to the [global war on terrorism], but rather a detour from it.�

A few weeks ago, James Webb, secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, made the same point more brutally: �Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.� Webb added, �The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves.�

We know that Bush doesn't much listen to the common folk (or bother reading their Newspapers), but if they wish to stop the hemorrhaging of their own base, not to mention the all-import "middle", they may want to start coming clean on the only issue on which the American people are still barely willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. They need to begin telling the truth about their failures in the "War on Terror" and stop under-estimating the ability of the Electorate to smell a rat and turn insulted enough to hold them accountable for it at the next Election.

Otherwise, they risk missing the real lesson to be learned from Spain last week. I have no idea whether this bunch will "get it" or not. It would certainly be much better for the country if they did.