Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly sums up the last week of the jousting well:
BAD WEEK….It’s been a bad week for the White House. I think it’s worth summarizing just how bad:
Thursday: George Bush gets his butt kicked by John Kerry in the first presidential debate.
Saturday: Partly due to Bush’s dismal debate performance, polls indicate that Kerry is catching up. Bush’s lead appears to have been reduced to 2-3 points.
Monday: Donald Rumsfeld admits that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any substantial ties to al-Qaeda. “To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.” After his statement is reported, he tries unsucessfully to claim that he was “misunderstood.”
Later Monday: The CIA agrees with Rumsfeld. The linchpin of the administration’s case for collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda has been Saddam’s alleged “harboring” of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but a CIA report concludes that it probably didn’t happen. “The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything,” said an official who read the report.
Tuesday: Paul Bremer admits that the administration made a big mistake by not having enough troops in Iraq. “The single most important change — the one thing that would have improved the situation — would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout” the occupation.
When his statement becomes public, Bremer complains that his remarks were “off the record.” For its part, the Bush administration tries to claim that Bremer was lying, but is forced to backtrack almost immediately when it becomes apparent that Bremer did ask for more troops as far back as July 2003.
Later Tuesday: Dick Cheney initially appears to fight John Edwards to a near draw in the vice presidential debate, but before long attention shifts to Cheney’s numerous and obvious lies during the debate. This is likely to be the consensus post-debate talking point.
Wednesday: Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer releases his final report. He says that Saddam Hussein destroyed all his WMD after 1991, had no WMD programs in place after that, and that his capacity to build WMD was actually deteriorating after 1998, not increasing.
Thursday: Polls show that Bush has lost nearly his entire lead. The race is now a dead heat. AP/Ipsos actually shows Kerry ahead.
That’s a bad week. I wonder how George Bush will be feeling when he takes the stage tomorrow? A little bit nervous, perhaps?