The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger declared the story surrounding the declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) a "colossal waste of the time devoted to it." But Henninger offered little to explain how or why the story "had burned down to embers," nor did he explain why President Bush addressed the NIE in two recent speeches, which would seemingly contradict Henninger's claim.
In his September 29 column, Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger declared the story surrounding the declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which indicate that the Iraq war has helped to fuel increased terrorism worldwide, a "colossal waste of the time devoted to it." According to Henninger, the story promised to be "a bombshell" for Democrats because it "would put them back on message: Iraq as failure." However, Henniger wrote: "What began Sunday as the [New York] Times's towering bonfire ... by Wednesday had burned down to embers." Henninger offered little to explain how or why the story "had burned down to embers." Nor did he explain why, if the story was such a "colossal waste of ... time" -- but would help Democrats if it stayed on the front pages -- President Bush addressed the NIE during his September 28 remarks at a Republican fundraiser in Alabama. Indeed, Bush addressed the NIE again in a September 29 speech in Washington.
Then came the leaked NIE story in the New York Times this past Sunday. What a bombshell. This would put them back on message: Iraq as failure. But by now it's evident that the whole workweek invested in the National Intelligence Estimate story was a colossal waste of the time devoted to it. What began Sunday as the Times's towering bonfire -- 16 intel agencies and 12 anonymous sources writing off Iraq -- by Wednesday had burned down to embers.
After the White House released the NIE summary late Tuesday afternoon, reporters reading it for the first time on the Web undoubtedly kept hitting the Page Down button on their PCs. This is it!? Three crummy pages that anyone could have boiled down from a Foreign Affairs "Wither Iraq?" symposium.
The Democrats' problem is this: They are trying to beat policy with politics and weaken belief with polls. This may work for Social Security. I don't think it works with war. Don't be surprised if come November, Democrats are still on message -- Iraq as failure -- and still in the minority.
The September 29 edition of ABC's political newsletter The Note heralded Henninger's column as one of "the two best newspaper pieces of the day" on "the midterm-defining debate ('Are the Democrats winning -- or, at least, neutralizing -- the national security contest?')."