The Rove Report
...Rove is certainly right that it was a mistake not to counter the "Bush lied" lie of the Democrats. I may have to read the book, because it is still inexplicable to me. I have described the Bush approach as being a stoic punching bag for his political enemies. It probably took a supreme effort to overcome the political drift and back the surge that brought victory in Iraq.
Mr. Rove adamantly rejects allegations that the administration deliberately lied about the presence of weapons in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But he acknowledges that the failure to find them badly damaged Mr. Bush’s presidency, and he blames himself for not countering the narrative that “Bush lied,” calling it “one of the biggest mistakes of the Bush years.”
For the most part, his book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” is an unapologetic defense of Mr. Bush and his presidency, and takes aim at Democrats, the news media and others for what he describes as hypocrisy, deceit and vanity. He also describes his own hardscrabble upbringing in a family broken by divorce and suicide.
What many historians may focus on is his description of the war in Iraq, its origins and consequences. While many have accused the administration of drumming up a case for war on the back of false intelligence about Mr. Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, or W.M.D., Mr. Rove maintains that the White House genuinely believed the reports, and pointed to Democrats who accepted them as valid as well.
Most intriguing is his rumination on what would have happened had Mr. Bush known the truth. While the opportunity to bring democracy to the Middle East as a bulwark against Islamic extremism “justified the decision to remove Saddam Hussein,” Mr. Rove makes clear that from the start, at least, the suspected weapons and their perceived threat were the primary justification for war.
If Bush had not gone to war with Iraq, and we were still tied down patrolling the no fly zones and dealing with Saddam's support for terrorist, the Democrats would be criticizing Bush for not over throwing Saddam.
We are clearly better off for having liberated Iraq and so are the Iraqis. The defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq was largely responsible for discrediting the organization in the eyes of many Muslims. While Democrats have called Iraq a distraction, in reality it was a distraction for al Qaeda that used resources they would have been using in Afghanistan where the terrain was more favorable to their kind of war.
The Washington Post has more on the book.