Maybe Bush is looking to face down the French, the America-hating left, and the Iraqis all at once. Today's Washington Post is reporting that he's going to wait two more weeks before going to war. On Feb. 28, Inspector Clouseau, er, Blix, reports to the UN again, giving the French another chance to rail against the world, and on March 1, International (not the) ANSWER is planning a protest rally in Lafayette Park (if it's still open) across from the White House. If, in the absence of another resolution, and in the face of another set of street demos, the President goes ahead and sends in the troops, it should douse all three enemies at once. But it's a big gamble.
I'm afraid that the President, by allowing this to go on months more than necessary, has made a tactical error that could grow, in time, into a strategic one. He's allowed a misguided left to coalesce and seem more powerful than it is. It's not that they're changing anyone's mind. But they're "rallying their base," and eventually will end up with some issue where they have a majority.
Normally, in the weeks leading up to, say, a Congressional vote, the nerves get frayed, the voices shriller, the rhetoric nastier. Then there's a vote, someone wins, and says it's time to move on, someone loses, calls a press conference and vows to fight on, but knows that this battle is over. There's an element of that in this travelling freak show that ANSWER has put together. But I'm not sure, ad hoc as they are, that they're going to go away after the war's over. And if Saddam has more surprises up his sleeve, Bush has cut our margin for error dangerously close.
You know, we've seen something like this before. Remember the way the campaign reacted to the last-minute DUI revelation. It almost cost Bush the election, since he didn't react quickly. "Best laid plans" and all that, still have to be flexible enough to deal with the unexpected. I hope we're not seeing the same thing at work here politically and diplomatically, and I certainly hope that kind of thinking hasn't trickled down to our military planning. "Battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy."