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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: Steve_Seattle

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.

41 posted on 11/04/2005 2:33:45 PM PST by onyx ((Vicksburg, MS) North is a direction. South is a way of life.)
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To: Theresawithanh

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.

42 posted on 11/04/2005 2:34:24 PM PST by samtheman
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To: kajingawd

You are a Bush basher with a foul mouth.

43 posted on 11/04/2005 2:34:34 PM PST by Patriotic Bostonian
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To: Cicero
I'll tell you what, if this Administration does not do a massive PR campaign around the Iraqi elections in December, I am writing them off. His approval ratings should get a huge bounce from that, but if he lets the MSM bury the story it won't happen. Bush should consider a trip to Iraq, perhaps immediately after the election, to highlight the election and speak to the new Iraqi Parliament. Have some great pictures of him meeting the new Prime Minister and some of the female legislators. Then he could go visit the troops.

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.

44 posted on 11/04/2005 2:34:57 PM PST by Dems_R_Losers (The Kerry/Lehane/Wilson/Grunwald/Cooper plot to destroy Karl Rove has failed!!)
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To: jmc1969

I don't think Bush is desperate enough to start taking advice from his enemies.

45 posted on 11/04/2005 2:35:26 PM PST by 5by5
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To: Eagles Talon IV
He needs to remain above that crap and have others in the Party or close to the Party respond.

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.

46 posted on 11/04/2005 2:35:58 PM PST by My2Cents (Dead people voting is the closest the Democrats come to believing in eternal life.)
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To: jmc1969

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.

47 posted on 11/04/2005 2:37:20 PM PST by kittymyrib
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To: jmc1969

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.

48 posted on 11/04/2005 2:37:28 PM PST by Rosemont
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To: jmc1969

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.

49 posted on 11/04/2005 2:37:37 PM PST by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: Patriot from Philly
"I could get that from Kerry."

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.

50 posted on 11/04/2005 2:37:46 PM PST by Rokke
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To: Kjobs

These people who claim they support the President cannot wait to kick him when he is down. With friends like these who needs enemies?

51 posted on 11/04/2005 2:38:37 PM PST by Patriotic Bostonian
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To: My2Cents

Then there's the ultimate trump card - Cheney resigns and Rice is nominated for Vice President.

52 posted on 11/04/2005 2:38:47 PM PST by Dems_R_Losers (The Kerry/Lehane/Wilson/Grunwald/Cooper plot to destroy Karl Rove has failed!!)
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To: Patriotic Bostonian

I didn't put words in your mouth. I asked you a question. One you didn't answer, btw.

53 posted on 11/04/2005 2:39:12 PM PST by My2Cents (Dead people voting is the closest the Democrats come to believing in eternal life.)
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To: Theresawithanh

I'm with you. There is nothing to be demoralized about.

The past 2 weeks:

A great SC pick in the offing.
Hispanics are stepping forward to back Alito.
Drilling in ANWR approved -- 735,000 new jobs coming.
House passes Bill whacking local govts. on Eminent Domain. Unemployment is down.
Pubbies are finally trimming the budget at Bush's request.
Economy is strong.
Bush asks for strengthened borders.

Things are looking good as long nobody gets stuck on stupid.

54 posted on 11/04/2005 2:40:12 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Kjobs
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.

Wouldnt hurt if the President got out and carried a little of the fight himself or had his staff do it. He's got the big pully pulpit, we dont.

55 posted on 11/04/2005 2:40:15 PM PST by Dave S
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To: Dems_R_Losers

One Freeper had an idea to highlight a hero, like the one who stopped the car bomber at the Palestine Hotel.

The media will be forced to cover it.

56 posted on 11/04/2005 2:40:18 PM PST by Patriot from Philly
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To: Patriot from Philly

I am one of the biggest Bush fans there is.. and I know fighting msm and polls is just almost impossible. Wish we knew the answer. 24 hour news, internet and boring days make everyone want to pile on Bush.

He needs lots of prayers. I am not going to change how I feel about him. I think everyone thinks they are armchair qbacks.

57 posted on 11/04/2005 2:40:54 PM PST by JFC (W, I am with YA)
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To: Patriot from Philly
It is demoralizing to be a Bush supporter when he doesn't defend himself.

Bush said he himself was to blame for Katrina.

He called Manslaughter Ted Kennedy a fine Senator.

He let Manslaughter Ted Kennedy have a free will with the first Dept of Education budget--then once Kennedy ballooned it to stratospheric levels, Bush asked for even more money than Kennedy did, even though the RATs shot down Bush's hope for school vouchers.

Bush said he would go after nations that harbor terrorists, yet he lets Iran build the IDEs for Iraq and does nothing about it.

He gave Turkey BILLIONS of dollars after Turkey would not let the 4th Infantry Division enter through Turkey as planned, costing lives of the British and the Americans.

Bush gives $15 billion to Africa, even though we "can't afford" the F-22 and we "can't afford" the military bases.

On and on and on . . . In short, Bush is Mr. Nice Guy in an arena where nice guys finish last. The RATs are waging a brutal frontal assault and all out war against Bush and the Republicans, yet Bush chooses to "reach across the aisle", even though that means getting one's arm amputated by the RATs, and Bush chooses to "have bi-partisan support" for agenda, even though that means a leftist, Marxist agenda.

Bush is too nice. He does not have the focused vision that Reagan had to do what is right for the nation, and screw what the RATs think. The RATs are anti-American opportunists who care only about their own power, not the nation's future--you know that and I know that. Why doesn't George Bush know that?

58 posted on 11/04/2005 2:41:32 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: onyx

Kristol needs to take his own advice....but then he'd have to critisize McLame. That's never gonna happen. So, he'll just continue to throw his little spit balls and Fox and the MSM will continue to make him relevent.

New White House spokesperson would help.....

59 posted on 11/04/2005 2:41:56 PM PST by Jrabbit (Kaufman County, Texas)
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To: kittymyrib

Bush is NOT "hiding in foreign countries". Where do you get your news, anyway?

60 posted on 11/04/2005 2:42:27 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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