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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: samtheman
The only thing I can say to that is that it is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.

And on top of that, it is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.

201 posted on 11/05/2005 9:08:24 AM PST by Recovering_Democrat (I am SO glad to no longer be associated with the party of Dependence on Government!)
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To: Eagles Talon IV
Oh, I see your back from the dark side.

Your back should be "You're back". Don't you think your junior high education is a terrible thing to let go to waste as you have?

202 posted on 11/05/2005 9:21:37 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
pleasing "Dont_Tread_On_Me_888" doesn't appear to be at the top of the Whitehouse agenda

What does appear at the top these days other than making it to bed time?

203 posted on 11/05/2005 9:23:44 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
The reason why a 10 second comment from Harry Reid leads nightly news shows while a 30 minute speech by our President gets no coverage, is because the media has an agenda. That you don't seem to understand that says all that needs to be said about your powers of perception. Perhaps that is why the Whitehouse has chosen to ignore your rants.

And was the media that much weaker back in the days of Reagan? Duh? Besides if you dont attempt to control the bully pulpit you are going to be playing defense all the time (like right now). How many points do you see scored on defense. Relatively few.

If the White House doesnt try and get its message out there is 100% chance that it wont. Let him try. The media is so out of touch they could actually air something that they think will turn off the public when in fact its what they want to hear. For example when it came out that we had secret CIA prisons around the world, media raised cain but most people, even in polls thought it made sense and they had no problem with it.

204 posted on 11/05/2005 9:30:38 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
The only thing lacking is your grip on reality. What good is speaking from a pulpit when nobody hears your message

Who has the weak grip on reality? You got to play the game to have a chance. You cant sit back and allow the Dems and the media to set the agenda. You make provactive statements, you introduce new programs, you challenge the Dem leaders, in essence you do something to create NEWS, you don't just make 40 speech of the year on WOT.

You also do a series of one-on-one interviews with White House reporters and network anchors (after all do you think these network primadonas are going to turn down a chance to show off how smart and attractive they are...there is a reason they choose to operate in front of a camera rather than do a real job). You play to the medias vanity. Hold more prime time news conferences. Make your important point as a statement at the beginning and then take the questions. The more obnoxious the questions, the more sympatatically the average viewer will listen to his responses.

You also go on the road more and do tons of interviews with local media in red state markets with Dem Senators up for election. You dont sit in Crawford Tx with an old hag Sheehan attempting to get the world to believe she was controlling your every move.

Also since you control the reins of government you can do things that will change the story or at least step all over the Dems story of the day. Make the bird flu announcement, start a Justice Department Investigation of CIA leaks that were attempts to hurt the WHite House and participate in Kerry's presidential campaign. Jawbone the oil companies about gas prices. Tell them that if they dont invest in new refinary capacity they will face windfall profit taxes. Find something to veto and say why, then challenge the Dems to overide. Do enough and then the story will become the President is attempting to change the story. Continue on and eventually it will be what the president is saying that day.

205 posted on 11/05/2005 10:00:00 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
OK. I read it again. So you are saying you believe the media (which is over 85% democrat) only gives the democrats so much coverage because the democrats are more interesting? It has nothing to do with the media's liberal agenda? It is simply because Republicans are boring. If the Republicans were just more interesting the media would fall all over itself giving Republican causes equal and fair coverage. I got it now. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear how out of touch you really are. You really do have NO IDEA what motivates our media establishment.

Why see the world in black and white. Republicans are boring in their presentation and the media is biased against them to begin with. Why not accept both and then do something to force the media to make concessions. Leak news to reporters who give you a fair chance. Those that dont listen can then explain to their bosses why they were scooped.

Besides Im not convinced that the media is biased so much in favor of liberalism as they are in favor of action to solve problems including government action. Since Bush is a big government conservative he ought to be able to get a fair hearing if he could make what he's trying to do a bigger story than the Dems story about scandal, blah blah.

206 posted on 11/05/2005 10:11:18 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
I suppose it is that same boring Republican message that has resulted in a Republican President, House and Senate and a majority of Republican governors. Despite the lack of the all important media support. Maybe the majority of Americans don't rely on the media to form their perceptions of what is important. Too bad you don't.

We dont operate in a vacuum. For more than fifty percent of the US, all they have to see is a whining or foaming at the mouth liberal on TV and they will vote for whoever else is running. Besides only about 30 house seats out of 345 are even competitive in a normal year. Republican officeholds get elected with their finger up their ass.

207 posted on 11/05/2005 10:15:07 AM PST by Dave S
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To: Dave S
You are correct. I did indeed make an error. However, the fact you found it necessary to attack my error rather then deal with the substance of my statement does in fact prove you are a lefty loon.

You libs never change and ultimately you reveal yourselves. BTW, is it true all you libs have a photo of Michael Moore taped to the ceiling over your bed?

Now run along. Uncle George Soros would be very unhappy were he to discover you left the swamp to come here and bask in the light of truth.
208 posted on 11/05/2005 10:25:59 AM PST by Eagles Talon IV (Still waiting for the)
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To: Dave S
"Besides Im not convinced that the media is biased so much in favor of liberalism as they are in favor of action to solve problems including government action."

Well, I was reading through your multiple posts trying to condense them all for a single answer when I came upon your statement above. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You think the media is "in favor of action to solve problems"?!?! The media IS the problem. How could it possibly be that you've missed how biased, flawed and false their reporting has been regarding Iraq. How could it possibly be that you missed how wrong their dire and panicked reporting on the situation in New Orleans during Katrina was? How could it be that you've completely missed the fact that the media continues to report the Plame incident like Karl Rove outed an undercover CIA agent when that obviously is not the case? The media isn't searching for solutions. They are dedicated to convincing the world that Bush and the United States are THE sources of evil and misery in the world. Have you noticed the scant coverage on the Muslim riots in Europe. They've been going on for over a week now. It's chaos. Compare the coverage of those riots to the coverage of Katrina. Within 5 days of one of the worst natural disasters to hit this country in its history, an entire city of several million was completely evacuated with very few deaths despite the fact that the mayor and governor were criminally incompetent. Yet, in those 5 days of wall to wall coverage, George Bush and the United States were held up as completely incompetent and worse than a third world nation with regard to disaster response. We were told we are lead by a "racist" government that purposely slowed rescue efforts in order to kill black people. We were all declared guilty of neglect and abandonment by a media bent on convincing the world the US is bad. And now, after 9 straight days of religious rioting that is spreading throughout Europe, our media is just starting to question whether or not it might be a sign of deeper problems in the Utopia known as Europe. "Action to solve problems" Good Grief.

If you truly believe what you stated in the comment above, there is no point in responding to any of your other comments, because your fundamental grasp of reality is so flawed it is almost beyond repair.

209 posted on 11/05/2005 10:52:25 AM PST by Rokke
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To: Recovering_Democrat

And that's about all anybody can say on this sad subject.


210 posted on 11/05/2005 11:05:50 AM PST by samtheman
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To: Ingtar
Reid is an embarrassment. Our local talk show station (KKOH)here in Reno has a morning guy named Ross. He has been here for like 22 years as the morning guy. He is usually very jovial and has a good sense of humor. He had Reid on the other day and asked him point blank when he was going to prove his statements about W being a liar. For the first time ever Reid was with out a response he stumbled around and then changed the subject. Ross came back at him and suddenly he had something else to do. The afternoon guy Manders is lined up to take the same shot a Reid next week.
211 posted on 11/05/2005 11:26:58 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Never corner anything meaner than you. NSDQ)
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To: Eagles Talon IV
You are correct. I did indeed make an error. However, the fact you found it necessary to attack my error rather then deal with the substance of my statement does in fact prove you are a lefty loon

Excuse me what substance is there to asking whether there was too much whailing going on at DU? Since I havent even visited that site much less been a participant there, I think your own statement just proves you are insufferable moron. I dont know whether you are lefty or righty but you definitely are a loon.

212 posted on 11/05/2005 1:00:32 PM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
You think the media is "in favor of action to solve problems"?!?! The media IS the problem. How could it possibly be that you've missed how biased, flawed and false their reporting has been regarding Iraq. How could it possibly be that you missed how wrong their dire and panicked reporting on the situation in New Orleans during Katrina was? How could it be that you've completely missed the fact that the media continues to report the Plame incident like Karl Rove outed an undercover CIA agent when that obviously is not the case

So you hide behind an attack on the media to forgo dealing with any of the suggestions that Republicans and Bush could be doing to get our message out. No wonder all you can do is scream about bias and hide under a rock crying the sky is falling, the sky is falling and there is nothing we can do about it.

Besides in your example, Rove did out an undercover agent of the CIA. She may not have been under deep cover at the time and there is no proof that she was in fact covert but she was an undercover agent and Rove doesnt deny having told several people of her identity so you doth protest too much. You are just afraid that simpled minded people that see the world in black and white like yourself would hear that and automatically believe that something criminal or unethical was done. The average American isn't as dumb as you and the Liberals believe they are.

213 posted on 11/05/2005 1:09:00 PM PST by Dave S
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To: Rokke
If you truly believe what you stated in the comment above, there is no point in responding to any of your other comments, because your fundamental grasp of reality is so flawed it is almost beyond repair.

Did you ever read the book Bias by Bernie Goldberg or whoever who was a former network reporter. He agrees with me. Deal with your paranoia. I doubt that Bush and the administration are so disparing of their own ability to mold the news and promote their agenda. If you truly think things are so bad, you might just as well crawl under a rock and sob while you await the Second Coming. For crybabies like yourself, its all over.

214 posted on 11/05/2005 1:18:20 PM PST by Dave S
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To: Dave S
"I think your own statement just proves you are insufferable moron. I dont know whether you are lefty or righty but you definitely are a loon."

Sigh..another personal attack. How insufferably left of you. Tell you what slick, why not take your tinfoil ensconced micro brain outside and play a fast game of hide and go fu*k yourself?

215 posted on 11/05/2005 3:00:05 PM PST by Eagles Talon IV (Still waiting for the)
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To: Eagles Talon IV; Dave S

Knock off the personal attacks.


216 posted on 11/05/2005 5:15:44 PM PST by Admin Moderator
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To: Dave S
You and I are correct. The Republicans can control the media if they had skill in marketing, and expert advice on how to control (and manipulate) the media, as the RATs do. After all, Hollyweird gives the RATs advice on how to use the mike, the camera and the stage or podium. The Republicans act like amateurs. We both have made good points on this subject, but we are discussing this issue with a member who is incapable of rational analysis, just makes excuses for the Republicans.
217 posted on 11/05/2005 6:36:46 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: Dont_Tread_On_Me_888
We both have made good points on this subject, but we are discussing this issue with a member who is incapable of rational analysis, just makes excuses for the Republicans.

Afraid so. I just hope Rove and the others that do this for a living haven't accepted the "chicken little" beliefs of some around here that believe nothing can be done...so they do nothing.

218 posted on 11/05/2005 9:08:06 PM PST by Dave S
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To: Dave S
"Besides in your example, Rove did out an undercover agent of the CIA."

You better offer the evidence of this to Fitzgerald because after two years and millions of dollars investigating exactly that, he has come to a different conclusion than you have. Face it, you do not live in the real world. You are forced to make things up to support your opinions. An opinion based on fantasy is as useless as it is irrelevant. Life must be hard for you. It must be frustrating to live a life in which your input and opinions are consistently ignored. It is unfortunate for you, that most of the world does not live in the universe you created. Conversely, the real world seems to be doing just fine with you existing outside the fringe of reality. I guess both sides will just have to get used to the arrangement.

219 posted on 11/05/2005 9:39:16 PM PST by Rokke
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To: Dont_Tread_On_Me_888
"We both have made good points on this subject, but we are discussing this issue with a member who is incapable of rational analysis, just makes excuses for the Republicans."

I too am happy you two have found each other. Together, you just might be able to convince the rest of the world that the mainstream media composed almost entirely of members who freely admit their allegiance with the democrat party is just itching to support Republican causes.

But I'm not going to hold my breath.

220 posted on 11/05/2005 9:42:47 PM PST by Rokke
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To: samtheman
The wisdom of Bush's New Tone can be summed up in the following proverb: One sure way to conciliate a tiger is to allow him to devour you.

By being a terrible communicator--I'm not talking about his style, I'm talking about his unwillingness to even try to communicate--Bush has made his own bed and it's lousy. Only he can straighten it out.

221 posted on 11/05/2005 9:46:21 PM PST by PeoplesRepublicOfWashington (Dream Ticket: Cheney/Rice '08)
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To: JFC

"Wish we knew the answer. 24 hour news, internet and boring days make everyone want to pile on Bush. "

The bully pulpit works when there is a serious national issue. Otherwise it just becomes a shouting match and the smear tactics and preponderance of the media will prevail. Bush can't fight 24/7 news nonsense, and I like his tactic of ignoring them as much as possible.
In fact I'd like for the republican talking heads and congressmen (other than for personal defense like Delay) to try an experiment. Refuse to go on any news show -even Fox - I'm tired of the media talk circles with just one token conservative in the bunch, and their saying they're being fair.
Make the media talk just to themselves and watch them implode even faster. They will sound ridiculous without any counterpoints from our side.They might even be forced to make some of our points for us. If Bush is going to turn the other cheek, let's all do it. I'm not afraid of the media. I don't know of any president they have ever elected.
My major disappointment has been with Bush not using his veto pen especially against CFR. Other than that I love the guy. Our country needed a guy just like him in these times.


222 posted on 11/05/2005 10:38:30 PM PST by A'elian' nation
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To: Rokke
You better offer the evidence of this to Fitzgerald because after two years and millions of dollars investigating exactly that, he has come to a different conclusion than you have.

It must be a bitter experience not being able to read. I was very careful in my use of words. You are not. Plame did serve as an undercover agent. She was employed by a cover firm for the CIA. I did not say she was "covert" and I did not say she was serving as a spy overseas. Words have meanings. And by the way, Fitzgerald specifically mentioned that he did not reach any conclusion as to whether she was covert or covered by the statute in question. Not coming to a conclusion and not charging someone under a statute does not equate to concluding tht she was not covert. Fitzgerald could have concluded that she was a covert agent covered by the statute and still not indicted anyone for any number of reasons. Personally I dont think she was covert and I dont think she was covered by the statute...but that is not what I said. I said Rove outed (identified) an undercover agent of the CIA.

223 posted on 11/06/2005 12:01:51 AM PST by Dave S
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To: PeoplesRepublicOfWashington
By being a terrible communicator--I'm not talking about his style, I'm talking about his unwillingness to even try to communicate--Bush
That's true. It has nothing to do with his abilities. He is forthright and honorable, and those qualities come through when he takes command of the debate, as he did after 9/11. But he has surrounded himself with advisors who believe the best way to win is to give the RATS 70% of what they want and then make wishy-washy statements about why the other 30% is important. Maybe his father has too much influence over him. I don't know. But I blame Rove. I always have. I've never believed that Rove was the "genius" he's always been declared to be. Look at the 2004 election. Yes Bush won, and won big, but even so I believe it was much closer than it could have been and was much more of a melodramatic campaign than it should have been. Bush should have put that Pepe le'Pue away as easily as Nixon put McGovern away. Instead it was a hard fought run with Pepe getting in some good licks on our president and the "genius" Rove nearly running the campaign aground several times.

That's why I say, as much as the Plame non-story is a pack of leftist-media lies, if it actually did end up unseating Rove, I'd be glad about it.

224 posted on 11/06/2005 3:41:34 AM PST by samtheman
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To: Rokke; Dave S
I agree the MSM is a RAT-infested supporter of the RAT Party--I am sure "Dave S" would say so also. Nobody can deny that.

You fail to hear what we are saying because it is not refutable. The Republicans CAN control the media and get the word out better if they employed the right tactics.

1] "Sensationalism".

You know that word. The MSM his lived on sensationalism for decades. That is how they get viewers. That is how the sponsors support the media. The RATs are definitely sensational in their remarks---lying scum, but they ARE sensational. That is why they get the coverage. The Republicans are boring. They are too nice. They are too bland. Nobody listens. It is not sexy. The message does not sell.

2] "Volume" Definition #1

You know that word also. Volume as in quantity. The RATs appear everywhere. On any given news day, the RATs are appearing on ten times as many press conferences, at functions, on TV and radio, etc. The sheer volume is guaranteeing that the RATs will be seen and heard more.

3] "Volume" Definition #2

You know this word also. Volume as in decibel level. The RATs make good coverage for their passion, their outlandish statements, their screwball tactics (e.g., Reid's shutdown of the Senate), etc. The RATs are more colorful. They talk louder. They over-talk and interrupt the Republican debate opponent. They show emotion. The media likes sexy things and they find obnoxious stupidity to be one of the sexy things they like. The Republicans need to find colorful ways (in a positive manner) to be more sexy, to make waves, to cause news, to control the flow of sound bites, etc.

Summary: There are many reasons why the MSM has a bias to the RATs, and it is not all due to the fact the RATs are commies, one of the key causes. There are many things the Republicans can do to start controlling how the media covers them and to help get the GOP message out. They need some paid Madison Avenue experts on staff and make a goal to start dominating the news.

In the media wars, the RATs have trounced the Republicans. The RATs may be rats but they act like sharks. If the Republicans would fight back, they would have the media treat them more equally.
225 posted on 11/06/2005 5:48:20 AM 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: jmc1969

Kristol is right on this one. Anyone who will not defend himself deserves no defense from others.


226 posted on 11/06/2005 4:16:05 PM PST by pabianice
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