In the debate, Bush inadvertently revealed his true point of view about Iraq. In doing so, he revealed why we are going it alone.
“LEHRER: Mr. President, new question. Two minutes. Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another preemptive military action?
BUSH: I would hope I never have to. I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.
KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, "The enemy attacked us." Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. al Qaeda attacked us.”
I think this exchange made the President mad. He was being accused – justly—of having flubbed the hunt for Osama bin ladn. And he was sensitive about it, especially because he spends almost all his time surrounded with people who dare not even think this thought let alone utter it for fear of harming the Presidential Morale. So in an unguarded moment, he lashed out.
BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.
And secondly, to think that another round of resolutions would have caused Saddam Hussein to disarm, disclose, is ludicrous, in my judgment.
“Ludicrous.” Right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the heart of the matter. When assembling a coalition, we may agree or disagree with our prospective partners. And if we disagree, it’s not going to harm our overall relationship. But the Bush administration didn’t simply disagree with our partners, they dismissed them. We didn’t think they were mistaken, or seriously misjudging the risk, or simply wrong-headed. We thought they were “ludicrous.” We indicated to them that we had disdain for their points of view. “You’re with us or against us.” We showed a fundamental lack of respect for their views.
It’s the lack of respect – for our allies, for the loyal opposition, even ultimately for their own constituency – that will bring these people down.