This gaffe shows that Mr Bush is vulnerable after all

Share
Related Topics

Donald Rumsfeld's admission that there is no "hard evidence" that Saddam Hussein's regime was in league with al-Qa'ida, will have surprised no one who took the trouble to read the report produced by the US 9/11 commission in July. The commission concluded that there was no operational link between the Iraqi president and Osama bin Laden, despite the Bush administration's repeated insinuations to that effect. Mr Rumsfeld's hasty efforts to backtrack, by citing past CIA reports positing a Saddam-Bin Laden link, hardly convinced.

Donald Rumsfeld's admission that there is no "hard evidence" that Saddam Hussein's regime was in league with al-Qa'ida, will have surprised no one who took the trouble to read the report produced by the US 9/11 commission in July. The commission concluded that there was no operational link between the Iraqi president and Osama bin Laden, despite the Bush administration's repeated insinuations to that effect. Mr Rumsfeld's hasty efforts to backtrack, by citing past CIA reports positing a Saddam-Bin Laden link, hardly convinced.

In electoral terms, Mr Rumsfeld's was a gaffe of the highest order. But it was also the truth. And its significance is not just that the Secretary of Defence has become the highest-ranking figure in the Bush administration to admit it, but that US voters are almost for the first time taking serious notice. The war is now the central issue in the campaign and President Bush is, at last, being held to account for the weak - and highly ideological - case he made for deposing Saddam Hussein.

Mr Rumsfeld's embarrassing admission came as Dick Cheney and John Edwards made final preparations for their vice-presidential debate and it was bound to cast a shadow. It was, after all, in the first presidential debate last week that John Kerry scored his first real points against Mr Bush on the war. When Mr Bush denied that the war on Iraq was pre-emptive - because "they attacked us" - Mr Kerry pointed out that it was not Saddam Hussein who had attacked the US, but Bin Laden. Mr Bush could only yelp back: "I know that."

This was not Mr Bush's finest hour and, for once, America seemed to be paying heed. Mr Kerry clearly won the debate and, after lagging in the polls since his party convention, is now neck and neck with the President.

Mr Rumsfeld's frantic efforts to limit the damage yesterday suggest, too, that his mis-timed candour was more than a gaffe. It was the first real sign that Mr Bush's highly polished and well-oiled machine conceals a certain fragility. Under pressure, it could crack. Now that they have identified where Mr Bush is vulnerable, Mr Kerry and Mr Edwards must keep up the attack.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A ballot box is emptied by a voting official at the closing of polling stations in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015. Greece voted on Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the euro-currency area after seven years of economic pain.  

Greece debt crisis: Too many Greeks decided the referendum question was 'Do you want to pay more humiliating and unfair taxes?'

Nick Sarris
Supporters of the No vote react after the first results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens  

It’s not whether we’re rich or poor, but what we expect that really counts

Ben Chu
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate