It's a political whodunit: Since Ayad Allawi delivered his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, foreign policy devotees have been searching for the ghostwriter of the speech, which sounded curiously familiar to American ears.
The White House denies that anybody in the administration did it. Several of the usual suspects outside the administration, including former White House officials Karen Hughes, Dan Senor and David Frum, have also denied culpability.
But those searching for a ghostwriter of the Allawi speech may be overthinking things. Maybe the prime minister simply went to the White House Web site and combed through some of President Bush's speeches. Consider the similarities:
"The world is better off without Saddam Hussein." -- Allawi
"The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power." -- Bush
"There are terrorists . . . who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization." -- Allawi
"The killers know that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror." -- Bush
"It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding." -- Allawi
"It's tough at times . . . but there is steady progress." -- Bush
"I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing." -- Allawi
"The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens." -- Bush
Iraq is "emerging finally from dark ages of violence." -- Allawi
"Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny." -- Bush
"Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one." -- Allawi
"We made a tough decision when it came to Iraq. . . . And we made the right decision when it came to Iraq." -- Bush
Iraqi forces "are striking their enemies wherever they hide." -- Allawi
"We're fighting these enemies wherever they hide." -- Bush
"I have come here to . . . promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain." -- Allawi
"We will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain." -- Bush
"I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . . We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves." -- Allawi
"Because we acted, torture rooms are closed, rape rooms no longer exist, mass graves are no longer a possibility in Iraq." -- Bush
"Creating a democratic, prosperous and stable nation . . . which lives in peace with itself and its neighbors is our highest priority." -- Allawi
"A stable, democratic and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression." -- Bush
"There are fanatics who seek to impose a perverted vision of Islam." -- Allawi
"The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism . . . that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." -- Bush
"These killers may be just a tiny fraction of our 27 million population." -- Allawi
"There's only a few relative to the 25 million who are trying to stop the march of freedom." -- Bush
"These murderers have no political program or cause other than push our country back into tyranny. Their agenda is no different than terrorist forces that have struck all over the world, including in your own country on September 11th." -- Allawi
"The terrorist who takes hostages or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid . . . and in the merciless horror inflicted upon thousands of innocent men and women and children on September the 11th, 2001." -- Bush
"Schools and hospitals are being rebuilt, the clinics are open and reopened. There are now over 6 million children at school, many of them attending one of the 2,500 schools that have been renovated since liberation. Last week we completed a national polio vaccination campaign, reaching over 90 percent of all Iraqi children." -- Allawi
"Our coalition has rehabilitated nearly 2,500 schools, and over 1,200 more should be completed by the end of the year. All of Iraq's hospitals and most medical clinics are open and are serving the people. Since the liberation, the vast majority of Iraqi children under 5 years old have been vaccinated for polio." -- Bush
"Do not let them convince others that the values of freedom, of tolerance and democracy are for you and the West but not for us." -- Allawi
"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that." -- Bush
"Thank you, America." -- Allawi
"You need to thank the American people, that's who you need to thank." -- Bush
Presidential Endorsement Insufficient
President Bush's coattails evidently do not extend to Wheelersburg High School in southwestern Ohio. On Sept. 10, Bush visited the area for a rally and took a question from 14-year-old Dillon MacDonald. "I'm running for student president of my freshman class, and I was wondering if I could have your support," Dillon said to laughter from the crowd.
"Man, you're heading in the right direction," Bush replied. "I assure you, when I was 14, I couldn't have stood up in front of all these cameras. Yes, you can have my support." Bush promised he'd be "watching the [Wheelersburg] election like a hawk."
Alas, the endorsement proved insufficient: Days later, Dillon lost the class election to a girl in a three-person race. "It didn't quite put him over the hump," Principal Mark Knapp said of the presidential assist.
Is this a bad sign for Bush in the crucial state of Ohio? "I would hesitate to make any kind of prediction," Knapp said.