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Fight Back, Mr. President: Shouldn't the president defend his honor?
Weekly Standard ^ | William Kristol

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.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: 109th; bush43; kristol; reid; term2
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To: Dont_Tread_On_Me_888
"We are talking about the present and future, not the past."

I apologize. I didn't realize you were clairvoyant. You obviously aren't a student of history (even very recent history). I missed the near riots over Miers. And even fickle conservatives like Kristol have been supportive of Bush post Alito. Like democrats and other Bush haters, your reliance on phony media polls to build your understanding of reality will no doubt prove that your powers of clairvoyance are about accurate as your recollection of history.

141 posted on 11/04/2005 4:32:26 PM PST by Rokke
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To: Miss Marple
In 2000, two of the things that President Bush campaigned on was "No Child Left Behind"

Bush did not say in the campaign that Manslaughter Kennedy would be allowed to write the budget, then no matter what Kennedy plugged in for the final figure, Bush would add 10% to it. Had he told us that ahead of time, Republicans would have stayed home in 2000 and Gore would be president.

and prescription drug assistance for Medicare patients.

Bush's team said that the cost would be $400 Billion. The second the ink dried on Bush's law signing pen, the amount was announced at over $1 TRILLION DOLLARS!

Bush's own biography still says that Bush [campaigned] on "limited government". What did we get? The BIGGEST social welfare spender in the history of man.

As I said earlier, Gore was a lunatic and Kerry was a traitor--besides, both were RATs--nuff said. However, true conservatives need not stand by and watch our president out liberal the liberals.

The Harriet Miers/ Sam Alito episode taught us all one very important lesson: if we show outrage at leftist moves by Bush or Republicans, we just may change the course of history for the good of the nation. If Sam Alito is confirmed, it would be for the good of the nation (at least better than Miers), and it was TRUE CONSERVATIVES who got Alito up for a Senate confirmation hearing, not Bush. Had Bush had his way, it would be Miers. This will be the first time in the history of this nation that grassroots Republicans nominated a candidate to the Supreme Court. Dance around that all you want, but in effect, Sam Alito is the "peoples nominee", "people" being true conservatives.

If we want to help reclaim our nation from the radical RATs, it is up to the conservative activists to dictate agenda like we did in the SCOTUS pick. If we leave it up to the Republican'ts and Bush, we will continue to have the RATs' tail wag the Republicans' dog.

142 posted on 11/04/2005 4:40:53 PM PST by Dont_Tread_On_Me_888 (Bush's #1 priority Africa. #2 priority appease Fox and Mexico . . . USA priority #64.)
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To: Rokke

'Bush does the right thing for the right reason without seeking fan fare'

Re your post #50, well said. Thank you. President Bush is not perfect but, he is a good man, who, I believe, loves our country above himself. He deserves a lot more support from Rep Senators/Congress.

143 posted on 11/04/2005 4:52:41 PM PST by 4integrity
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To: Dont_Tread_On_Me_888
Dictate agenda? You are really full of yourself.

Apparently you are not a believer in incrementalism. Thats' too bad, because the democrats and liberals are.

You are ignoring all the good President Bush has done. You are forgetting that conservatives are NOT the majority in this country, and to get anything accomplished we have to bring the middle people along with us.

As I said, you never have anything positive to say about the President. You ignore all of the good things he has done.

Pfui. You are politically tone deaf.

144 posted on 11/04/2005 5:02:27 PM PST by Miss Marple (Lord, please look after Mozart Lover's son and keep him strong.)
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To: carenot; RVN Airplane Driver
That is pitiful. Calling the President "boy".

I recall a performance at Ford Theater in the '80s celebrating Bob Hope's 80th birthday. Pres. Reagan was there to give some remarks on the occasion, and as one who always poked fun at his own age, said, "Bob Hope is 80...I love it when he calls me 'kid.'"

Maybe RVN's a "seasoned citizen" and calling W "boy" is a term of endearment? That's how I took it.

145 posted on 11/04/2005 5:02:58 PM PST by My2Cents (Dead people voting is the closest the Democrats come to believing in eternal life.)
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To: My2Cents
It looks like Andy Card, Laura, and perhaps others have had extra influence lately. (Card because Rove was preoccupied w/Plame).

Ari Flescher is missed sorely, but Scott McClellan is a friend of the family. I say screw the friend of the family....this is serious.

Card reportedly pushed Miers, and I bet Laura seconded that motion. (Card is reportedly connected to the Breyer nomination for Bush 41!)

W's team is plum worn out fighting the good fight, but I remain optimistic.

146 posted on 11/04/2005 5:23:01 PM PST by chiller (Libs prove once again they can not be trusted with power..)
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To: Theresawithanh
"Kristol can be soooo whiny."

Very true. But really....this time he is exactly right. Bush has to start fighting back hard. There is much more at stake than just his presidency. He has to make the pubic see that the Dems have gone totally off the rails and are in la la land. It scares me how out of reality they are, in a time of war. They are being reckless with our national security they seem to have no idea how serious the terrorist threat really is. They are so fixated on hating Bush they have really lost their way. Bush has got to show them up as being what they are....irresponsible and derelict in their duty.

147 posted on 11/04/2005 5:25:28 PM PST by Hound of the Baskervilles (Liberals are unfit for citizenship in a country that values freedom and courage.)
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To: Hound of the Baskervilles
If you ask me, I would say that the administration has given the democrats enough rope, and the hanging will commence. Kristol has caught wind of it, and is offering his "advice" so that when what was intended by the administration happens, Kristol can claim credit.

I do not like Kristol at all.

148 posted on 11/04/2005 5:30:49 PM PST by Miss Marple (Lord, please look after Mozart Lover's son and keep him strong.)
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To: AmusedBystander
"Part of the real problem is a-holes like Kristol who is one of the few "conservatives" in the press who can help support the President, but can only seem to find time to bash one thing or another."

I don't see any bashing. Actually it was a fairly mild column....Kristol is a mild guy. He's a decent fellow. I usually like him and give him a good listen, though sometimes I disagree with him.

149 posted on 11/04/2005 5:31:57 PM PST by Hound of the Baskervilles (Liberals are unfit for citizenship in a country that values freedom and courage.)
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To: FlipWilson

Your point on polls is a sound one.

Granted, we know many of these polls are vastly oversampling Dems & Indy's. Still, even if they weren't, polls do not generally bounce back in a week. The announcement of Alito was not even a nighttime event, it was early morning when far fewer witness it. It's legitimate to state there is a lag, and Kristol should have saved his column for one month from this point before contending there will not be a positive from it.

However, from where I sit the W.H.'s problem is communications. In short, fire Scott. He is no Ari Fleischer.

I wonder if the W.H. realizes how watching Ari in action was a constantly base rousing event?

And that is the problem. To me, it seems Dems have gained no ground at all. Their own polling states this as the case. The loss appears to be among the President's own base that is feeling let down or weary. They have no desire to vote Dem, but they feel little incentive to vote Rep.

Good news is that the W.H. can control OUR moods. They can't necessarily account for natural disasters, or every turn of the war. But they have complete control over how revved up conservatives are. Start articulating policies that excite the base, concentrate on educating people about the Judiciary, advancing low taxes, focus on the good things happening in Iraq. Let the media talk of the bad, spend ALL their time talking of the good. IGNORE the Democrats. Stay on offense. Replace Scott with someone that makes it an equal fight with the press core so we can witness the pummeling of the MSM daily. Make more light hearted jokes about the Dems.

It's pretty simple. Look at what the Dems are doing. They are advancing little policy, but making their base "feel" good. We've advanced some good things, not all, but some. Yet the "emotional" needs of the base aren't being met. How much harm would it cause to give us a little red meat more often? Go back to how positive and happy people felt with the RNC convention. Pure red meat, but in a higher tone than the Dems' offer, and it energized everyone. They need to get back to that.

150 posted on 11/04/2005 5:33:25 PM PST by Soul Seeker
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To: Miss Marple
"If you ask me, I would say that the administration has given the democrats enough rope, and the hanging will commence."

Hmmm! Now that's a possibility. I hope so. We shall see.

151 posted on 11/04/2005 5:34:14 PM PST by Hound of the Baskervilles (Liberals are unfit for citizenship in a country that values freedom and courage.)
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To: Hound of the Baskervilles
Have more confidence! Try to remember the elections of 2002, when we were "doomed." Remember how the MSM tried to keep us from going into Iraq. Remember how we were not supposed to get tax cuts.

All will be made clear in the next few months. Chess, not checkers.

152 posted on 11/04/2005 5:36:44 PM PST by Miss Marple (Lord, please look after Mozart Lover's son and keep him strong.)
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To: Patriot from Philly
It does not demoralize me at all. I know that he was raised to not toot his own horn, ala Bill Clinton. His parents and grandparents taught him that, and it used to be considered a good trait before the world went into madness.

The Miers episode as the author says, did cause damage, and it was caused by his own so called party supporters. I am appalled to this day at the behavior of the republicans who did this.
153 posted on 11/04/2005 5:37:11 PM PST by ladyinred ("Progressive" = code word for Communist/Nazi)
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To: Theresawithanh
No, Kristol is right. Bush's communications and political strategy during the first year has been a risible disaster. Ignoring Iraq and allowing the Party of Appeasement to get away with questioning his honor has resulted in the poll numbers we see today.

Bush must attack, and defend his honor, and the whole Administration must attack with him. This is an honorable and just man, and an honorable and just war. Bush has allowed the craven and the dishonorable to have the stage long enough.

Be Seeing You,


154 posted on 11/04/2005 5:41:56 PM PST by section9 (Major Motoko Kusanagi says, "Jesus is Coming. Everybody look busy...")
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To: Miss Marple

As much as I worry about our good President when he travels to foreign countries, why shouldn't he have gone to Argentina. And to those that say he shouldn't have gone...after 9/11, did these people say we should all stay home and cower in corners??? Our President is a courageous man. God bless our President!!

155 posted on 11/04/2005 5:42:28 PM PST by 4integrity
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To: Patriot from Philly
It is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.

I agree.

Latest polls show a majority NOW doubt his honesty and integrity, thanks to the constant "Bush lied" mantra from the MSM and the misrepresentation of the CIA leak nonsense.

It angers and disgusts me that the TRUTH is not being put out there by the White House and Republicans to counteract this campaign of misinformation.

I feel like they almost deserve to be smeared.

156 posted on 11/04/2005 5:43:09 PM PST by Jorge (Q)
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To: Patriot from Philly

The media MAKES UP how poor Bush is doing.

157 posted on 11/04/2005 5:46:34 PM PST by 4integrity
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To: All

Okay, I just had to check in ... my kids have colds, I just started a job,, my husband is totally stressed out about a job interview process, and now, the minute I log on to FR, suddenly "only I" can find the freaking saline solution to clean out my daughter's nose.

To make a long story short, I can't really read through the whole thread, and I regret that.

But after reading (as much as I could have of) this article, all I can say is: Reports of the demise of the George Bush presidency have been greatly exaggerated.

People are behind him. I truly believe the conservative base is backing him 100%--Judge Alito is smart and qualified.

Okay, gotta go. I just received the evil eye and apparently I am the only person in the house who can find a box of Kleenex.

*rolls eyes*

'night, all. :)

158 posted on 11/04/2005 5:50:11 PM PST by proud American in Canada (Merry Alitomas, Dems!)
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To: Rokke
I disagree. I think the WH has been very consistant on this message. But for every WH statement repeating the truth, you hear 20 media statements repeating lies. It is similar to the current "outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame" refrain. Despite it now being completely obvious that Valerie Plame was not "outed", the media continues the refrain from hundreds of outlets all over the country. It is a lie, but how can the WH compete? No matter how many times the WH states the facts, if the media chooses to repeat a lie and ignore the truth, there isn't much the WH can do short of buying its own 24/7 news channel.

I have never once heard a WH official say V. Plame was NOT covert - The WH / RNC allow this false premise to be set over and over - Show me once where any one with the WH has ever said "Plame was not covert, she was not outed by anyone" -

Furthermore with regard to Iraq, we will have to agree to disagree on this one - I see the WH staff along with the RNC and U.S. Senators routinely allowing false premise after false premise to be set by the MSM - They never set the premise correct before answering a question. They allow the false premise to be established (as fact) and then speak from there. This does terrible damage to the "truth".

As for the "no WMD's" line of attack by the MSM / DEM's - I have hardly ever heard the WH nor RNC take this on ...head on. State the fact that at least now we know (for certain) and we moved on Iraq for a dozen other reasons along side the perceived possible threat of WMD's. Attack those who charge "WMD'S were the sole reason we went to war in Iraq" - Call them out, call them liars and let the American public know that is not the case. The WH and RNC have refused to do this.

159 posted on 11/04/2005 5:56:11 PM PST by SevenMinusOne
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To: Theresawithanh
I put my money on Bush. Never underestimate him.
160 posted on 11/04/2005 5:56:44 PM PST by Big Horn (We need more Tom DeLay's)
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