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Downing Street Memo: So what?

This friggin' memo is practically all I hear about or read about from the Bush-hating left these days. They can scarcely conceal their glee at what many of them believe to be the long sought-after "smoking gun" that will finally topple this president.

Read the lefty bloggers who write on the topic. It doesn't take much reading between the lines to hear the high fives going round amongst the Kos diarists, amidst choruses of "We got you now, you smirking Texas chimp!!" This single document has even prompted Ralph Nader (ludicrously) to call for Bush's impeachment.

What's less clear is exactly why they're so excited. At the end of the day, the document is nothing more than an aide's impressions of what he believed was the mindset of certain Bush administration officials during the leadup to the war. And not only is it opinion and conjecture, but it's not even new opinion or conjecture. Rather, it's the same-ole same-ole we've been hearing from Bush critics for years -- without any supporting evidence to back it up: planning for post-war Iraq was inadequate (like we need some British functionary to tell us that,) war was a foregone conclusion, and intelligence was cherry-picked to support it. Stale inferences and assertions unaccompanied by supporting evidence is hardly the recipe for a "smoking gun," and I'm frankly unimpressed.

That being said, I do believe there's a very good chance that the DSM is true, in that the impressions of the memo's author, subjective and unsubstantiated or not, are largely correct.

But again my response is: "So what?"

Let's imagine President Bush giving the following talk to his national security staff in 2002:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to the conclusion that the U.S. and its allies must act to end the rule of Saddam Hussein, and do so by military force if necessary.

As you know, regime change in Iraq has been our nation's official policy since 1998. Further, I'm aware that some among you have advocated regime change from the beginning of this administration. I say to you now that recent events in the world have brought a new urgency to this matter.

In a post-9/11 world, we no longer have the luxury to abide a tyrant, a sworn enemy of the United States, with a history of aggression against his neighbors, committing acts of genocide against his own people, the production and use of weapons of mass destruction, the flouting of international law, and support and harboring of terrorist groups and individuals.

Saddam must be removed from power. I charge all of you and your respective staffs to compile the best possible case we can for regime change, both for the American public as well as the global community. Get started.

Not difficult to imagine, right? Indeed, I think it's a fairly accurate portrayal of Administration thinking at the time.

And you know what? Hooray for Bush and Blair. If a generation from now we find that we have failed -- that the Middle East remains a cesspool of despotism and terror -- then it will not be because free men did not try to make it otherwise.

Meanwhile, if the Bush-haters still want to find a smoking gun, they'd best keep looking.