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.
I believe W has stayed pretty close to his campaign promises. You are the one who had hoped for someone else. Bush is what he is.
Absolutely agree --- a new WH press secretary is needed. And fast.
Never said I agreed with everything he does. Some of you new posters seem to want miracles from this man.
Kristol is a fool - But the above comments are dead on - The WH (and RNC) have completely dropped the ball in the PR war regarding the GWOT - They have been pathetically lazy while at the same time asking our soldiers to fight 24/7.
DevSix, you are a smart man with good insight. Exactly what can the WH and RNC do with regard to the PR war and Iraq that they aren't already doing? Remember, they don't own the media.
President Bush is not afraid of anything! Go away -- you are a PAIN IN THE ASS!
Did you happen to listen to Rush today. You sound like what he spoke of today about why the libs in congress were doing stupid things like taking the senate into closed session, etc. It was to pull the wool over the eyes of their stupid base. To make it appear that they were doing something.
In the 1988 Presidential debates, Bernhard Shaw (I think) asked Dukakis about his opposition to the death penalty by phrasing a hypothetical wherein Kitty was raped and murdered, and wouldn't Mike sing a different tune under those circumstances?
Dukakis's milquetoast response branded him as a limp-wristed, turn-the-other-cheek pacifist.
Bush had better watch out his can't-we-all-just-get-along approach to the Democrats doesn't get him a place next to Mikey.
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.
The "Miers episode" did more good for Bush than harm. It reminded him that he has a conservative mandate and that his base is willing to go to the mat and do what it takes to win.
I think it also sent the same clear message to the Republicans in the Senate. At least Lindsey Graham seems to have gotten the message.
The classic line of one who has nothing substantive to say. Kind of like shouting Nazi. Totally berift of thought.
Bush hasn't fought for any of his judicial picks yet. This would be a good time to start.
Part of the problem is the WEAK Republican Senate leadership. Frist's response to Harry Reid, himself a weakling, was pathetic.
If the White House were to respond to every charge the media put up against him, that would be all they would have time to do.
No, Billy K, it is still a ticking time bomb in the coming intertgenerational war that needs to be dealt with. President Bush had the guts to take on a "third rail" topic and at least open it for discussion.
The only way, IMHO, to resolve SocSec is to pass a bill first ensuring that everyone over 55 is protected (if they want to stay in) in present system and that will shut them up while the rest of us figure out how to fix the medium to longer term crisis.
You need to realize that if Bush continues to slide in the polls he will lose his effectiveness with our allies, with the American people, with the Republicans in Congress. He will also lose the fear of his enemies...that has started already. I've never seen more disrespect from the opposition party as demonstrated this week.
You mean the cooked BS polls by foreign polling companies that sample more Democrats than Republicans, thus skewing the polls???
You are right. I followed the Bolton nomination closely. The Republicans were a sorry, weak mess on that one too.
The media may be losing readership, but the Internet is picking up readership. Do you look at the Yahoo homepage, AP and Reuters, that's what people see.
You believe the CR-AP and Arab-owned Rat-turds?