The key lie in the Bush White House's rhetoric about the war in Iraq is characterizing the conflict as the "central front in the war on terror." For the reality-based community, it's never made any sense -- Iraq wasn't involved with 9/11, Hussein did not support Al Qaeda, and the invasion of Iraq diverted resources and attention away from Afghanistan and towards a country that was not an imminent threat.
But for the GOP, these inconvenient details get in the way of their sales pitch: If you support a war on terrorism, you necessarily have to support the war in Iraq. As the theory goes, they're one in the same.
To their credit, a growing number of Americans know better.
Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort, a jump of 10 percentage points since June. That increase comes despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of a strategy to prevent domestic terrorism.
Republicans better hope voters hate gay people and the estate tax enough to get them through the cycle in one piece.
-- Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report