It had to happen sooner or later. I'm sure any Republican Senator or Representative facing an election this coming first Tuesday of November would have preferred it four weeks later.
George Bush used the V-word in reference to his folly in Iraq. He didn't actually use the word himself, but he acknowledged the situation in Iraq was indeed analogous to the V-word.
Now die-hard conservatives are going to complain about leading questions from a Clinton Democrat (ABC correspondent George Stephanopoulos, who got the President to admit the similarity, was a former Clinton administration flack) attempting to discredit the policies of the administration in the lead up to the elections. George Bush has been around politics all his life. He should know how to avoid an easy yes and no question.
All he was asked was if he believed the current circumstances in Iraq were analogous to those surrounding the Tet offensive in 1968. He could have easily said, "No, I don't believe the circumstances are at all similar." Truth be told, he would have been quite correct militarily if that had been his reply. There is really nothing in common with the situation in Iraq and the circumstances of the Tet offensive in terms of what's happening in the field.
What Stephanopoulos was fishing for, and hooked George on, was a comparison between the feelings of the American public now toward the operation in Iraq and the burgeoning feeling of widespread outrage about the war in Vietnam that Tet engendered. It was George's willingness to go along with that assessment that could prove problematic.
Thinking about it some more, I realize any official administration statement linking the two operations, even saying weather conditions were similar, would not look great in print. Vietnam was never a war – it was a police action. The war has been won in Iraq so we're not allowed to call them wars. It's such a nasty word anyway, implying death and destruction like it does. Maybe we should just do away with it altogether.
Bush likens Iraq to Vietnam as a headline, no matter the fine print, and would have any Republican hoping to be re-elected this November running from the President like their butt was on fire.