In my reporting from the red counties of Illinois I learned something very important: out there even people who hate the war in Iraq tend not to blame the Bush administration for it. They construe it as something that just kind of happened to happen on his watch, that was foisted upon the United States of America by circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Or maybe, somehow, a holdover from Clinton.
I don’t know if the Kerry campaign ever realized this. They certainly did nothing to counter it. General Clark, on the other hand, made the line that Iraq was “fundamentally a war of choice” a central part of his message. Forgive the Thursday afternoon quarterbacking, but: why didn’t Kerry?
People didn’t blame Bush for Iraq because no one was telling them Iraq was Bush’s fault.