Notes: Last week Dick Cheney spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville, Tenn. arguing the case for a preemptive strike on Iraq. In the speech, Cheney said, "Our goal would be an Iraq that ... is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognized and protected." Leaving aside the issue of a preemptive attack, these goals are lofty. Every nation should have them -- even Saudi Arabia.

The next day George W. Bush met with Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan in Crawford, Texas. According to a Washington Post report by Dana Milbank and Glenn Kessler, Bush was trying to "shore up badly frayed relations with Saudi Arabia whose opposition to military action would make waging war much more difficult. Bush telephoned Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, on Monday evening to emphasize that he wants strong ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia." Saudi Arabia has none of the goals that Cheney mentioned for Iraq.

The reason for the inconsistency in the administration's stance is that Cheney was spinning the Iraq situation in a way that he thought would help sway Americans into supporting an attack on Iraq. I think he should have stopped long before the inconsistent statement about goals of democracy and stuck with making a case that Iraq is a real threat, something almost everyone of our allies disagrees with. As it happened it just made the administration look foolish to call for democracy in Iraq while kissing up to the very undemocractic Saudi regime.