Skip to comments.Fight Back, Mr. President: Shouldn't the president defend his honor?
Posted on 11/04/2005 1:55:54 PM PST by jmc1969
Last week, I suggested that the Bush administration's second-term bear market had bottomed out. Since then, we've been pummeled by polls showing Bush in continued decline. Perhaps my bullish call on Bush was a bit early. Or perhaps it was wrong. Which is it?
That's up to the Bush administration. Over the next few months, the Bush team will put this bad year behind them, and regain their footing. Or it will be a long 39 months--a very long 39 months--for Bush and his supporters.
How to recover? Begin by facing reality.
The Miers episode did more damage than one might have expected. It raised doubts about Bush's judgment, on top of the Katrina-related doubts about White House competence, which have lingered. But Miers, and Katrina, are over. Now the task is to get Samuel Alito confirmed--using his confirmation process not just to get credit for a fine pick, but to make the case for judicial restraint and constitutionalism, and to lay the groundwork for additional winning battles on behalf of conservative appellate and (maybe) Supreme Court nominees.
The failed Social Security reform effort did real harm, too. The political capital expended, and the depressing effect of the wet-blanket-like message of imminent generational doom, undercut the credit Bush should have received for a strong economy. Now Social Security is over, and Bush can return the focus to economic growth. He can campaign on making the tax cuts permanent--and he can explore some of the broader, pro-family, pro-human-capital policy proposals suggested elsewhere in this issue by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, and by John D. Mueller.
And the administration paid a price for its virtual silence on Iraq during the spring and much of the summer. Now the administration seems to understand not just that they have to do everything they can to win in Iraq--but also that they must make, and remake, the case for the war. Do they also realize that they have to aggressively--not to say indignantly--confront the "Bush lied" charge now emanating from leaders in the Democratic party?
Last Tuesday, Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate and asserted that the Bush administration had "manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions." This is a serious charge; if it were true, it might well be an indictable offense. But it is, in reality, a slander. Shouldn't the president defend his honor?
After all, the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission found no evidence of political manufacture and manipulation of intelligence. The administration's weak and disorganized attempts to respond to Joe Wilson's misrepresentations put the lie to the existence of any campaign to "destroy" opponents of the war. In fact, the administration has done amazingly little to confront, and discredit, attacks from antiwar Democrats. It was a shock last week when White House spokesman Scott McClellan emerged for a few moments from his defensive crouch to point out that Clinton administration officials and Senate Democrats also believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
Will he, and others in the administration, return to this theme? Will they call the now antiwar Democrats on their disreputable rewriting of history? Incidentally, are the Democrats ready to defend the proposition that we should have left Saddam in power? Is it okay with them if Zarqawi drives us out of Iraq? Will the administration challenge them as to what their alternative is? Will the administration take the time to put spokesmen forward, and recruit surrogates, to make the case for victory? Or do they enjoy being punching bags at the White House?
Bush has been in a similar position before. We forget how much trouble he seemed to be in early in 2004. Then Kerry was nominated, and the Bush team focused the country on the real choices before it. In the contrast, Bush did fine. Bush once again needs to fight for support for his policies and to draw a contrast between his policies and those of his opponents. If you do not defend yourself against your critics, your political standing is going to erode. Bush owes it to himself, to his supporters, to the soldiers fighting in Iraq, and to the country to fight back.
Good article. It is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.
It is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.The only thing I can say to that is that it is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.
I agree. I think he should take heart in the excellent Supreme Court pick, and know his base is behind him now that he's returned to his promise. I think he should continue the momentum by slashing the bloated transportation bill.
Playing defense is no good. He's got to come out charging. Come on W!
Bill Kristol back to form, sitting on the sidelines complaining, taking responsibility for leading the way and bailing when an initiative or policy fails or loses favor.
THIS Bush supporter isn't demoralized.
Kristol can be soooo whiny.
Sue Reid for making false statements?
We need the pic!
Please shut up and go away, whining billy.
You are not a Bush supporter. Supporters support -- they don't constantly bash everything he does and doesn't do to their liking.
Sure why not? Make the courts work on the side of the angels for a change. :-)
Not fighting back appears to be a Bush family trait.
These fairweather friends of Bush are getting on my nerves. He's our President; we elected him. He should have our support when times are tough.
Well, you have a nice day too. I am a supporter, I voted twice and contributed. I voted for Bush because I admired his strong leadership and for 8 months now we've had weakness.
Weakness with Syria; weakness with Iran; weakness towards the media; weakness towards the Democrats.
A Spanish judge issues arrest warrants for 3 of our soldiers and the Bush appointed ambassador in Madrid calls it a legal issue and that we are still friends. I could get that from Kerry.
Well, I have to say that I thought Bush was foolish to jump right into his second term, with all that momentum going for him from the election, and immediately put all his eggs into the Social Security basket.
Sure, Social Security is broke, but why is it the Republicans' job to fix it? There were more important things to do first.
At that time, everyone was stunned by the power of the social and religious conservatives who turned out in droves to vote. Hillary started saying that she was really a Christian, and that maybe the Dems should compromise on abortion. (Only abort half the baby, and leave the other half in the womb?) It's noticeable that she's since dropped that line, because it no longer seems so urgent.
Now all that momentum has been lost. Conservatives are raring to go with Alito, but then Bush committed another bad move by allowing Specter delay the Alito hearings until next year. Meanwhile Bush is in Argentina, which gains him absolutely nothing but insults from his host. Somebody gave him some bad advice--on Specter, on Miers, on Social Security, on priorities.
Sure, Kristol is a congenital whiner. But there's some subtance to this complaint.
Bush need to wake the f*k up. Enough running around, i think its time he puts the best interest of National Security and he totally puts out to the world what he knows as fact concerning everything from arms being smuggled out of Iraq days, weeks and months prior to the offensive, who was behind it, where the equipment went... all of it. All this crap we've been seeing in the papers and on tv since the * war on terror* began can all be wiped away in the hearts of the american people if BUSH speaks his mind to you and to the world.
Time to name names, places and reasons as to why the international community ( China, Germany, France ...) didnt jump on the train. The oil for food fiasco is probably the worst MESS ever to hit this modern open globalized world. Conspiracy into fact. Put it out, in black and white, what really happened in the months prior to America taking that sadistic f*k Sadamm, ...the reason the WMD report was flawed AFTER THE FACT.
btw...Osama's dead and burnt
the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission found no evidence of political manufacture and manipulation of intelligence. The administration's weak and disorganized attempts to respond to Joe Wilson's misrepresentations put the lie to the existence of any campaign to "destroy" opponents of the war. In fact, the administration has done amazingly little to confront, and discredit, attacks from antiwar Democrats.
Kristol is right. Bush thinks that if he does a good job, people will notice and give him the credit without him having to bang his own drum. This is delusional.