Asked this morning about polls showing that Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake, George W. Bush said that he "fully understands" that people may have forgotten "the lessons of September 11th." Given the president's track record, it was actually a pretty constrained conflating of Iraq and 9/11: He mentioned the attacks only twice during his hourlong press conference today.
Don't expect such restraint from his supporters on Capitol Hill.
The House of Representatives will take up debate on Iraq this week, and Think Progress has come across what it says is a confidential message memo from House Majority Leader John Boehner. If the memo is authentic, the message Boehner wants delivered is clear: Tout the progress in forming an Iraqi government and the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then pound away at an Iraq-9/11 link.
As Think Progress notes, the two-page memo mentions 9/11 seven times. The Iraq debate will allow House Republicans to discuss "national security in a post-9/11 world"; to "re-examine the conditions that required the United States to take military action in Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001"; to remind Americans that we can "no longer allow despots like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to ignore international sanctions" in the "post-9/11 world"; to argue that, in a "post-9/11 world," we can't just "abandon our efforts against these threats in the hopes they will just fade away on their own"; and to make it clear that Democrats are embracing "troubling policies ... in a post-9/11 world" when they're not busy "sheepishly dismiss[ing] the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world."
And then there's our favorite bit of 9/11 circularity: "The attacks we witnessed that day serve as a reminder of the dangers we face as a nation in a post-9/11 world."
We're not sure how something that happened one day can be a "reminder" of what came later. But before the week is out, we don't have any doubt that Boehner and his colleagues will tell us.