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.
Memo to Bill Kristol, there is always a lag between reality and reporting and consequently, a turn in the polls. In the MSM's case, they just ignore reality and change the subject to something else. For example, look at gas prices. They are dropping like a rock. But the MSM's tagline is still that they are at a record high.
With regard to Iraq, Kristol hit it on the head. The dems are weak on National Security issues. If they want to keep bringing them up, the President should have accepted the invitation. I think Bush felt that since Iraq was THE issue after the 2004 election, it was over and done. Not sowith the "ground hog's day" party.
I am being optimistic, but I do really think things are looking up all around. Conservatives judicial nominees, drilling in ANWR, the President is getting more combative, and deficit reduction bills. Yep, things are looking up and soon the polls will as well (or we will all get to laugh at the new methods the MSM has to come up with to keep them low).
> 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.
Have you sent your letters to the editor about Alito yet? I've done this, and I've donated to the GOP as a show of support and thanks for the recent turnaround to W's conservative roots. I'm also bolstering support for W within my family and fence-sitting friends.
I just want W to come out swinging, too. I don't think it was disrespectful of the president to demand a capable, conservative, and constitutionally solid pick from him. He needs to not be afraid to BRING IT to the Demoncraps!
So, you're of the opinion that Bush has done a stellar job defending his own policies?
No he's not. He's more then likely a DUmmie who can't stand the stench from over there and decided to visit here for a bit of freah air.
It ain't much of a base when it deserts him so easily and attacks with such venom.
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. It's kind of hard to fight back when there are virtually no national organizations ready or willing to carry water for this President.
" Is it possible the media have the administration cowed into not defending themselves at all, because ANY defense whatsoever, even a stammering, "But . . . but . . . " will be characterized as a "smear"? "
No matter what GWB will be slandered. Might as well fight back then.
Bush DID make a pretty good WOT speech about two months ago, but the media basically ignored it.
I've not been a fan of Kristol's for several years, however I do want to see the administration do a lot better with PR.
I've no idea who, within the inner circle, is responsible for it- but they're doing a lousy job. They are always BEHIND the issues..putting them in defense mode. They need to keep up with FR :) get on offense- lead the story and STAY AHEAD.
How many attacks will Bush endure from the "George Washington of the Islamic Republic of Iran" AKA Jimmy Carter AKA weakest and worst President in US history before he fights back????
Hey, I campaigned for him twice and voted for him twice. What more do you want, blood?
GWB is a good man, but I don't agree with EVERYTHING he has done, nor his attitudes about social programs and government spending. I just want him to control the borders, win the war on terror wherever we can draw the idiots into battle without shredding civil liberties, and stop spending so damned much money we don't have on the most useless classes of people, specifically the parasitic perpetually "poor" and government bureaucrats.
Maybe Kristol and company could be more productive and helpful were they to write about the democrats instead of criticizing the administration and President Bush.
You are absolutely right. I remember during the election everytime Bush tried to make a point it was called an attack or smear.
It is a challenge to manage this media. I notice we never get approval numbers on the media, must be really low.
I'd like to see Bush pick a fight with the media. He is afraid to do so though. I don't think his coverage could get any worse.
Kristol is saying what Bush needs to hear; very serious charges are being thrown against the admin on a daily basis, concerning things that have already been investigated and settled, with no evidence that the admin lied about or coerced intelligence, and the White House is letting the critics go unchallenged.
Apparently nobody. Rove is the political genius, but who's the PR genius of this White House? There isn't one.
Don't put words in my mouth.
Bush's base didn't desert him, he deserted them when he picked Miers, packed in a horrendously expensive drug benefit for the wealthiest age demographic in the nation to buy votes with MY money, and flubbered around trying to reform Social Security when he should have produced a program to phase out that ponzi scheme.
Bush's base is conservative Republicans, and when he starts acting like a RINO to appease Democrats or avoid a fight, we'll "desert" him again by chewing his azz out!
" I'd like to see Bush pick a fight with the media. He is afraid to do so though. I don't think his coverage could get any worse."
Exactly. They will smear him anyway. Might as well fight back.