Here's what would happen if we had a truly effective opposition party or a ruling party with a conscience or a press that wasn't a toady to the administraton in the US.
Tony Blair is in serious trouble with his own party over the Iraq situation, especially in the wake of the Kay report. Here's the kind of questions the PM is facing:
"Do you regret now in retrospect that you placed your case wholly on that one issue of weapons of mass destruction?" asked Donald Anderson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "It's a pretty flimsy foundation, isn't it?"
Imagine the gasket the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would blow if, say Senator Richard Lugar were to ask that question during a press conference? Or even if a journalist were to ask it?
The fact is that the President of the US could conceivably serve two terms while never speaking to a single reporter once and never be required to talk to Congress other than during the State of the Union address (hardly a time to be addressed questions), but that's not the case in Britain.
And thank goodness. Because if it weren't for the tenacity of the British press and the willingness of Blair's own party to call him on this situation, the question of WMD in Iraq and the necessity of an immediate, pre-emptive strike might have been glossed over long ago.
It's interesting to note that Blair is trying the same sort of defense that Dubya has, with far shakier results. Note this exchange, as reported by the Washington Post:
"I think we've done the right thing," Blair told lawmakers, "not just because Iraq was a dangerous place under Saddam but also because the rest of the world needs to know that this issue will be tackled with firmness."
But Tony Baldry of the opposition Conservative Party retorted that Blair had "abandoned the United Nations." He said members of Parliament would not have voted for war in March if they had had a true picture of Iraq's weapons capabilities. "If you really do believe that if colleagues had known then what they know, that they'd still have supported you," Baldry told Blair, "then I think you're more out of touch than you really know."
I'll bet Blair would give anything for a quiescent House of Commons and press right about now, especially since public opinion polls show that the average citizen thinks the Hutton report was a whitewash. The latest commission he's been forced to convene will report back on the intelligence failures by the mid-summer parliamentary recess. Bush's latest panel won't report back until June 2005, by which time he'll either be clearing brush in Crawford, Texas because he's out of a job, or he'll be clearing brush in Crawford, Texas because he's on vacation and planning our next "splendid little war."
Either way, by then I'm sure there will be another celebrity molester or a breast-flashing during the funkified "God Bless America" brought to you by VH1 Seventh Inning Stretch of the All-Star game provided to take our minds off of it.