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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush, Alito, and Saddam Hussein's miscalculation

I've been following the nomination of Judge Alito with great interest, and reading many articles and posts about him and opinions by him. There have been some commentators who, with some reason, have described him as less conservative than partisans on both ends of the political spectrum have painted him. Which raises the question of whether (as some liberals darkly mutter) the conservatives know something the rest of us don't, or whether they've been believing oversimplifications just as the liberals have.

Whatever the answer, the question leads me to wonder whether Bush has been playing a delicate game -- assuring conservatives that Alito is just what they've been dreaming of, while pointing out to Democrats and other non-conservatives the evidence against that view. If so, he might want to remember what turned out to be Saddam Hussein's downfall. Saddam wanted to get out from under sanctions, and apparently didn't want to count 100% on oil-money bribery -- so he apparently destroyed his WMD stockpiles or allowed their destruction, though keeping the knowledge necessary for quick rebuilding. But he wanted his neighbors to keep fearing him, so he simultaneously tried to maintain the illusion that he still had WMD's aplenty. Turned out he convinced the wrong people of the latter -- and down he went. Bush could end up undermining his conservative support, while failing to assuage liberals -- though I doubt he'll fail to the point of setting up a filibuster.

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