Salon has a summary of the worst that can be leveled against the hawks for predicting a “cakewalk.” I think they have a small point with Perle and Adelman, although I suspect that when this war is over, their stock will rise again. But the Wolfowitz and Cheney quotes don’t pass muster at all. When waving at a British soldier can get you hanged, I don’t think we know yet what the real feelings of the Iraqis are. Wolfowitz’s predictions of joy at liberation have yet to be validated either way – because much of Iraq’s population is still not liberated. But none of the quotes match those accredited to Bill Clinton. Here’s another one:

But the former president quickly got serious when Letterman mentioned Saddam Hussein. Letterman asked, “Are we going into Iraq? Should we go into Iraq? I’d like to go in. I’d like to get the guy. I don’t like the way the guy looks.” “He is a threat. He’s a murderer and a thug,” said Mr. Clinton. “There’s no doubt we can do this. We’re stronger; he’s weaker. You’re looking at a couple weeks of bombing and then I’d be astonished if this campaign took more than a week. Astonished.”

I think Clinton was genuine. I don’t buy the argument that this was a brilliant campaign to heighten expectations to make life harder for Bush. Clinton is slippery, but not that slippery. Still, I wonder if any reporter will ask the former president if indeed he is now astonished. Although, to be fair, he still has two weeks to go to be proven completely wrong.