is it now "Wag the puppy"?

Can I just go home now?

Some people are suspicious that President Bush will go for a "wag the dog" strategy -- boosting Republican prospects with a military assault on Iraq shortly before Election Day. But a modified approach now seems to be underway. Let's call it "wag the puppy."
What if they can keep us distracted from our problems and their foibles just enough to squeak through the November elections and what could then be an all-clear signal for further domestic and foreign shenanigans.
For the next couple of months, the president has domestic political incentives to keep "wagging the puppy" while floating a variety of unsubstantiated claims -- like references to wispy dots that implausibly connect the Iraqi dictatorship and al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, sending more ships and aircraft to the Persian Gulf region can be calculated to evoke plenty of televised support-our-troops spectacles. With Old Glory in the background as tearful good-byes are exchanged at U.S. military ports and bases, how many politicians or journalists will challenge the manipulative tactics of the commander-in-chief?

Even if the White House doesn't sic the Pentagon on Iraqi people before the November elections, its efforts to boost pre-war fever between now and then could have enormous media impacts with big dividends at the polls. This fall, our country may see something short of a "wag the dog" extravaganza provided by leading officials of the Bush administration. But unless we can stop them, the full-grown dogs of war are not far behind.

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Published on August 24, 2002 2:59 PM.

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