Democrats hammered President Bush in the hours before Saddam's deadline. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) made a moral-equivalence argument: "I think unleashing 3,000 smart bombs against the city of Baghdad in the first several days of the war ... to me, if those were unleashed against the San Francisco Bay Area, I would call that an act of extreme terrorism." Among the presidential candidates, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called the president "inept" and ridiculed "some of the most bizarre, arrogant, ineffective diplomacy that I've seen in a long, long time." Even pro-war Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) attacked the president's "unilateralist, divisive diplomacy, which has pushed a lot of the world away from us."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) triggered the broadsides on March 17 when he expressed that he was "saddened" that the president "failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war." Republican leaders fired back-Sen. Daschle's counterpart, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), with a gentle "counterproductive and disappointing," and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) with a tougher characterization: The Daschle remarks "come mighty close" to giving "comfort to our adversaries" on the eve of war.
Even Sen. Daschle's hometown paper, the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, denounced him: "Tom Daschle was out of line.... [I]t was Daschle, among others, who voted to allow President Bush to use force against Iraq.... He only solidified opposition to Democrats and himself as one of their chief spokesmen."