The thing I honestly don't understand from folks like EJ Dionne (Ramesh links below) is when they write things like this:Bush was not subtle. He said that anyone accusing his administration of having "manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people" was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will," Bush declared last week. "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."
I can understand that liberals don't like to be told their arguments make the troops' job harder. Who would want to hear they're undermining the war effort?
But what EJ and so many others almost always fail to do is answer whether they think it's actually true. Does EJ think Bush is lying when he says that showing a lack of resolve is harmful to troop morale and/or encouraging to our enemies? Or does EJ think it is true but nobody should say it?
I mean that seems like an important part of the equation, doesn't it?
In a typical example of Jonah's base-stealing, questioning the President's use of intelligence in making a case for war magically equals "showing a lack of resolve." I know that conservatives don't handle complexity well, but it is in fact possible to both support the troops and their mission while at the same time asking whether the reasons for putting them there were as strong as we were led to believe, and whether the WMD intelligence was presented honestly.
As for whether questioning the president's use of intelligence hurts troop morale, I'd guess that it does, for some, though the more intelligent troops understand that questioning our leaders is part of a healthy democracy, something that doesn't and shouldn't stop during wartime. I'd also guess that sending American forces into Iraq under-equipped, undermanned, underpaid and overworked (not to mention failing in our obligations to them when they return home) has done quite a bit more to hurt troop morale than Democratic criticism ever could.