Fineman: Bush administration not "fully candid" on war because it "underestimate[d] the intelligence of the American people"
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Appearing on the November 28 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman declared that the Bush administration was not "fully candid" about the war in Iraq because the "honest" argument for going to war seemed too "complicated and convoluted" for the American people and the world. "[W]hat they did was underestimate the intelligence of the American people," Fineman said, adding that the proper case for war "was that we can't let this madman ... Saddam Hussein, sit on top of the largest or second-largest pool of oil in the world and siphon off billions of dollars to pay protection money, essentially, to the Osama bin Ladens of the world."
From the November 28 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:
FINEMAN: Looking back on it, I think there was a case to be made for the war in Iraq that would have allowed them [the Bush administration] to be fully --
DON IMUS (host): Honest.
FINEMAN: -- candid and on point with the American people. The problem is it was too convoluted for their purposes, and I think what they did was underestimate the intelligence of the American people, and as [Newsweek managing editor] Jon [Meacham] said, that way lies catastrophe for any president. And the case was that we can't let this madman who you saw on TV a little earlier, Saddam Hussein, sit on top of the largest or second-largest pool of oil in the world and siphon off billions of dollars to pay protection money, essentially, to the Osama bin Ladens of the world. That's a complicated and convoluted case that would have been difficult not only to sell to the American people, but to the United Nations and the Vatican and every other place where public approval would have been sought, because it really would have been pre-emptive war, it really would have been like the Department of Pre-Crime, if you happen to remember the movie Minority Report, and that would have been hard to sell. But had we gone in on that basis, which I think is the honest basis to have gone in, then there would have been more public support. But we didn't, and instead they reduced it to a cartoon of a mushroom cloud and a handshake between Saddam and Osama that never happened, and that's why, having created that cartoon, they're in such political trouble now.