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.
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.
Do you really think Kristol has written ANYTHING the administration doesn't know?
I'll say it again, Kristol and his brethren would better help by taking on the democrats themselves.
This White House does have a long history of not stating the obvious, of letting the RATS get away with rhetorical murder, and failing to call the MSM on their blatant bias and mis-reporting. I'm not saying Bush should be personally getting into nitpicking arguments with every lying snot-nosed NYT reporter --- or even every lying snot-nosed RAT senator, for that matter --- but he should occasionally try to smack them down, as a group, once in a while, and the white house should be regularly putting out clarifications, strong clarifications, widely disseminated clarifications, to at least respond to the drumbeat of media and RAT lies that creates such an oppressive and depressing atmosphere in this country.
I know Bush isn't Reagan, but c'mon, there are a lot of smart people in the White House, including Bush himself. Can't they figure out how to sound like Reagan once in a while? Even if they have to plan it out in advance, and not be as spontaneous as Reagan?
It's not that hard. Just read FR. This place is chock-full of ideas.
You are a Bush basher with a foul mouth.
He should come back in January with major personnel changes, starting at the White House with a new Chief of Staff, new Deputy (yes, include Rove in a general shakeup, not alone), bring back Karen Hughes as Press Secretary, and including a new Treasury secretary (NOT Andy Card, PLEASE!!!!), new Energy Secretary, and yes, a new Homeland Security Secretary. Show people he has a new agenda and a new team in place to make it happen.
Bush should also announce a major initiative of some kind with Laura heading it up. Maybe something for the women of Iraq and Afghanistan and Africa. Laura is very popular.
I don't think Bush is desperate enough to start taking advice from his enemies.
I don't disagree with you, but in this case, Bush should be pressuring the GOP "leaders" to take up that defense. He doesn't even do this. Case in point: For five years now, Charles Schumer has been the Dems' point person to oppose any and every judicial nominee that Bush puts forward. Everyone knows who to go to when they want a negative comment about Bush's judicial nominees -- they go to Schumer. But who among the Sen. Republicans is the go-to guy to support and promote his nominations? A few make some favorable comments when approached by the media (I'm thinking Cornyn here), but who, really, is THE point person in the Senate to support Bush's nominees? There isn't one, that I can see.
I'm ashamed of a Texan not having more fight in him than Pres. Bush is exhibiting. Hiding in foreign countries and in the White House and sending that pitiful Scott McClellan out to face the slavering wolves of the press corps assures that his poll numbers will soon be below 30%. Of course, it happened to LBJ, but he deserved it.
It is inexcusable that GWB is put on the defensive by the Dems lead by Howard 'Norman Bates' Dean, San Fran Democrat Pelosi, and Dingy Harry. Enough is enough.
The Pres shouldn't need to defend himself while he is in office. He has other, more urgent matters for his attention. If the Pres needs defending, it should be exactly his supporters who do it. Before someone abandons such support, consider what the Pres is trying to accomplish and whether there is anyone who better deserves support. Basing it all on one issue is probably not going to be productive; the job is very complicated.
Are you really that ignorant? You have no idea what we are doing in Syria and Iran. Just because it doesn't make the front page of the NYT's doesn't mean Bush isn't taking action. After 5 years, you'd think Americans (especially people who frequent this site) would pull their heads out of their rear ends long enough to realize that Bush doesn't do things for the purpose of looking good in the media. He does the right thing, for the right reasons and he does it without headline grabbing fanfare.
With regard to the media, in case you haven't noticed, every single mainstream media source with the exception of Foxnews is in a tail slide toward bankruptcy. They are their own poison with regard to causing their own demise. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, I don't think Bush really cares what our media says. It is irrelevant to how he makes decisions.
Finally, our ambassador in Madrid is exactly right. The arrest warrants are a legal issue. And exactly why we don't subscribe to the ridiculous International Criminal Court. In case you didn't know, we don't because "weak" Bush rejected that too. Real "weak". Perhaps you find Kerry a better picture of strength. But that doesn't say much for your ability to grasp reality.