Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Well, we can't really say what we're thinking, can we?

You know what I mean -- that the sudden appearance of (what seems to be) ricin is a Bushie plot that coincides with plummeting poll numbers and the rise of John Kerry as a serious threat. We can't say it, we can't even speculate about it, we can't even consider it and dismiss it, because that would make us conspiracy wackos.

Even though we were practically required to believe, or at least to consider the possibility, that the bombs Bill Clinton dropped on Iraq in 1998 were a craven attempt to use deadly force to distract voters from his failings.

David Kay, of course, said that ricin was one of the few irregular weapons Iraq was still actively working to produce just before the war. The Right desperately grasped at this straw (see paragraph #2 of Charles Krauthammer's last column), and righties assume you were paying attention, too. You don't have to believe that the administration did this to believe that the Bushies will try to exploit it.

Of course, if the administration does try to exploit the ricin attack (assuming it is a ricin attack), spinning it as a justification for administration policies, and particularly the Iraq war, that just makes no sense -- if it's ricin and it came from the Saddam's labs, then that the proves that the war didn't protect us from him ... and if it's ricin and it came from another foreign source, that says that maybe there were some resources we shouldn't have redirected to Iraq. (And if it's ricin and the mailer is domestic, well, did we nickel-and-dime domestic anti-terror efforts to pay for tax cuts?)

But the administration knows that, for most Americans, it's all just a muddle -- according to a Newsweek poll, most Americans interviewed just after David Kay's recent interviews and testimony said they believe Iraq had banned chem or bio weapos in the days before the war.

I don't know if this is "wag the ricin." I don't like succumbing to conspiracy theories. I think it's more likely that we're dealing with a Kaczynski, someone both schizophrenic and craftsmanlike, who might not even have a political agenda (or at least not a coherent one). But I do think we'll hear a lot from the administration about how "the world is a dangerous place" and Bush is the guy to keep us safe -- even though he obviously isn't keeping us safe. And I worry that it might work.

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