Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Beast of Baghdad, or Clown Prince of Crime? 

Via our stouthearted colleagues at Cursor: We never quite got around to covering last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, not that our opinion -- two thumbs up; up what, we decline to reveal -- would have added much to the excellent reportage provided by many of our distinguished colleagues (including Messrs. Willis, Wezorek, and Doolittle). The two money quotes, as you have probably read elsewhere, were A) the beloved entertainer Ann Coulter's "It's time for a new McCarthyism," and B) the bizarre assertion by Rep. Chris Cox of California that "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." We are not absolutely certain who spoke first, although a friend of ours who attended the conference did mention that Ms. Coulter was after Cox. ("Even more than usual," she added cryptically.)

Our esteemed colleague Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution transcribed the entire Cox quote from an audio recording:
We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and the facilities to make them inside of Iraq, and even more about their intended use, including that a plan to distribute sarin, and the lethal poison ricin -- in the United States and Europe -- was actively being pursued as late as March 2003. The facility where the weapons were being made also housed a large inventory of perfume atomizers of various shapes and sizes to mimic the brands on store shelves in the United States. It doesn't take a wild imagination to understand the chilling implications. It does take imagination to combat it. And that's why we're lucky have an administration that gets it.
99 and 44/100% mule dung -- but although Cox mangles the details, the bit about the sinister perfume plan does have a tenuous basis in reality: it comes from the testimony of a single uncorroborated source mentioned in the Duilfer report. As Schwarz points out, there is reason to believe that source might have been a movie fan.

Will Mr. Cox will be sending a royalty check to the screenwriter? We certainly hope so.

UPDATE: More proof, if any were needed, that it pays to make shit up. From a Harris poll of 1012 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 8-13:
  • 64 percent believe that history will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq (up slightly from 63% in November).
  • 64 percent believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (up slightly from 62% in November).
  • 61 percent believe that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was a serious threat to U.S. security (down slightly from 63% in November).
More surprising perhaps are the large numbers (albeit not majorities) who believe the following claims not made by the president and which virtually no experts believe to be true:
  • 47 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (up six percentage points from November).
  • 44 percent actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis (up significantly from 37% in November).
  • 36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).

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