TERRORISM AND ELECTIONS….Apparently George Bush is now almost panicky in his desire to disengage from Iraq and get the UN in. The Washington Post reports today that at this point virtually any proposal from the UN will be entertained, but only under one condition:

“The United States told us that as long as the timetable is respected, they are ready to listen to any suggestion,” a senior U.N. official said.

In other words, anything goes as long as we’re out by June 30. The occupation has to officially end before next year’s elections.

There are, of course, many reasons that liberals generally didn’t support the war in Iraq, but certainly one of them was the overwhelming partisan cynicism that the Bush administration brought to the task. Karl Rove made it clear that the war would be a perfect wedge issue for Republicans, Andy Card admitted that the “marketing” of the war resolution was deliberately timed, and now we discover that they really don’t care much what happens to Iraq as long as we are officially out and can claim victory before November:

In private conversations with the United Nations and its coalition partners, the administration has begun to discuss the viability of abandoning the complex caucuses outlined in the agreement and even holding partial elections or simply handing over power to an expanded Iraqi Governing Council, an old proposal now back on the table, U.S. and U.N. officials say.

Even simply handing power over to the IGC is now on the table. Anything, as long as it gets us out.

After 9/11 George Bush had a chance to build a bipartisan consensus about terrorism and how to respond to it. But he didn’t just fail to do that, he deliberately tried to prevent it, and by transparently treating terrorism as little more than a chance to boost the prospects of his own party he has convinced everyone who’s not a Republican that it’s not really a serious threat. After all, if he quite obviously treats it as simply a political opportunity, it’s hardly reasonable to expect anyone else to take it seriously either.

Treating Medicare or abortion as a partisan issue is one thing, but treating war the same way is quite another, and in the end it’s George Bush who is largely responsible for convincing half the United States and most of the world that terrorism is little more than a GOP talking point. It’s likely that someday we will pay a heavy price for this.