Skip to comments.A One-Time Bush Skeptic Admits His Error (Journalist Who Actually "Gets" It! Amazing!)
Posted on 06/02/2004 11:34:39 PM PDT by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
George W. Bush's approval ratings are at a low. Some liberals, reports New Republic Editor Jonathan Chait, find Bush's very existence to be "a constant oppressive force in their daily psyche." Now even conservatives such as columnists George Will, David Brooks and Robert Kagan are pouring forth despair over the president's Iraq policies.
But my admiration for the man for whom I refused to vote in year 2000 grows ever higher.
A president's chief duty is to keep the nation safe in the dangerous tides of international politics. In 2000, I found candidate Bush too little engaged with this challenge. But since 9/11, he has offered the kind of leadership that ranks him with the greatest presidents of my lifetime, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan.
Like them, Bush is taxed with having a weak intellect and little mastery of policy details. Maybe so. But what Bush has, as they had, is a clear-eyed recognition of a great threat to our country, the courage to face that threat and a willingness to risk his political standing for the policies he deems essential to our security.
Sept. 11 was a watershed, but it was new only in scope, not in kind. For three decades, Middle Eastern terrorists had assassinated our diplomats, brought down our airliners, blown up our servicemen in their bunks and berths. They even bombed the World Trade Center. Yet as long as they were killing us in small batches, we responded with passivity, fearing to stir up more trouble.
Even Reagan, tough as he was, decided to slink away when Hezbollah murdered 241 of our Marines in their barracks in Beirut.
On 9/11, however, the terrorists managed to kill us by thousands at a swoop, and what Bush understood was that our policy of passivity, like the West's efforts to appease Hitler in the 1930s, had only invited more audacious attacks. He saw that we had no choice but to go to war against the terrorists and their backers. If we did not destroy them, the terrorists would set their sanguinary sights higher until they succeeded in killing us by the tens or hundreds of thousands.
He saw too that this war would be, as President Kennedy described the Cold War, a "long, twilight struggle" waged on many fronts and by many means. This meant that we would fight and some of us would die on his watch, but that victory could not possibly be achieved within so short a time as to enable him to claim credit.
Has our occupation of Iraq gone smoothly? Far from it. Have mistakes been made? No doubt.
Probably we should have sent more soldiers, not disbanded the Iraqi army, planned earlier elections and not adopted an artificial deadline for transferring sovereignty.
In the occupation of Japan, we made mistakes too: trying to impose federalism, which was alien to the Japanese; purging so many collaborators with the old regime that it crippled economic recovery and stirred deep resentment.
Perhaps even the decision to take on Iraq after Afghanistan was a strategic mistake in the larger war. It might have been better to have concentrated on overthrowing Iran's mullahs or forcing Syria out of Lebanon. In World War II, Allied leaders and commanders debated fiercely which fronts to concentrate on and in what order.
But the real issue is not about tactics or even the larger strategy but whether to fight at all. The alternative is to soothe ourselves with half measures tightening borders, tracking funds, sharing intelligence, courting unfriendly governments hoping against hope that a disaster even bigger than 9/11 will not be visited upon us.
Are we safer now than we were before we began to fight back against the terrorists? Perhaps not, just as we were not safer when we began to resist Hitler, prompting him to declare war on us. Back then, we were not safer until we had won. And we will not be safe now until we have defeated the terrorists and their backers.
Would some other president have made the same brave choice as George Bush to shoulder this "long twilight struggle"? Not Bill Clinton, whose eye was always on the electoral calendar. Not the elder Bush, who didn't think much of "the vision thing." And surely not John Kerry, who tells us that he voted against the Iraq war of 1991 although he was really for it and voted for the Iraq war of 2003 although he was really against it. Kerry offers, in short, all the leadership of a whirling dervish. Truman? Reagan? Perhaps. But 9/11 came when George W. Bush was in office. He has risen to the challenge of a vicious enemy. I wish I could vote for him twice this time to make up for having underestimated him so badly in 2000.
This coming from the Houston Barnicle is quite refreshing.
Wow! Many good points here, even among the criticism parts of the article. But obviously this guy puts our country first and sees we need real leadership, not lib-Democrat waffling.
Any man can make a mistake. The smart ones are able to admit they did make it.
As Americans, we're just not the hide and cringe types.
Great to hear. Why is it liberals and those that trash Bush always have to throw in "weak intellect" or some such statement? As if, it is the obligatory talking point.
I really do not believe for an instant that a man will be elected governor of the State of Texas and President of the U.S. with a "weak intellect". Surely America is not forced to pick from only "weak intellects" to lead them.
No, Bush is very intelligent - he just does not "show" it in the manner they value as elite intellectuals. Some people are detail oriented and others are the visionaries of the big picture. Both are needed but for different jobs.
However, I am impressed that after only 3 years this author was able to see the qualities, the strengths that have made us love and value him as a great leader before he was elected. Slow but he comes around I guess.
Talk about "weak intellect" - I guess you could look at half the Senate and all the liberals who still cannot understand what we are fighting for and why we had to take the battle to the terrorists. There are some "weak intellects". Thank the Lord they were not elected President.
LOL! What a great line!
The thing is a nutshell. If it had not been for Churchill, the Tory party in Britain would have negotiated a peace with Hitler. It was Churchill and the people who kept the country fighting. One man can make a difference. In our case, it is Bush. Another point: John Eisenhower in talking about Tom Selleck in the role of IKE, said that it is hard to portray an "ordinary men," talking about his father. Well, Ike was an ordinary man in the sense that he never put on a show and that he could talk with ordinary men without intimidating them or trying to. Yet he had the character to stand up to "great men" and get them to do things his way. He even won the respect of a strange bird like DeGaulle, because Ike alone understood DeGaulle and what he was trying to achieve, which was to provide a French face for the invaders. We would have done well to do much the same thing in Iraq.
I guess this is kind of nice, but seeming as how this is in a Texas newspaper, doesn't mean much. The only question about Texas is do we win it by 10% or 20%?
But 9/11 came when George W. Bush was in office. He has risen to the challenge of a vicious enemy. I wish I could vote for him twice this time to make up for having underestimated him so badly in 2000.
Amazing article. I never expected to see this in print.
Thanks for posting.
the phrase in Bushism language is "having misunderestimated him"... :=)
Ha! Weak intellect belongs only to those that could not or refused not to see GW's strengths from the beginning.
Takes one of them three years to finally figure out what the rest of us intelligent individuals have known for quite some time.
I think this guy comes as close to getting it, as any editorialist. There are times when I get so tired of listening to the 'failed policy' naysayers when it comes to Iraq. It was certain Iraq would be a devilish daunting task. We'd been there before. We spent ten years playing games with Hussein. Was anyone at all under the impression that Iraq would be a pushover?
The fact that it hasn't been a pushover should tell us something about whether we needed to go to war with it. Is there evidence now to think that Hussein's intelligence and armed forces were well versed in the ways of terrorism? LOL, look what has been happening. Better on their soil than ours? In my book yes. In the liberal media wave of anti-American cow-pies and socialist democrat's fraternization with the enemy, at least through the respect that our side never seems to get from them, no.
I hate to break it to the naysayers. There are other Iraqs in our future, Syria, Iran, the Sudan, North Korea, to name a few. By rights the PLO should be one of them. We need to rid the world of terrorists, every terrorist, even Arasplat.
It won't be easy. The media and the leftists will fight us every step of the way, but there is only one way. It's to face the enemy face on and gut them where they stand, before they get to U.S. soil. And when they do, we take them out here.
Leftists, take the ACLU with you, and get the puck outa here.
The Comical's subscription department must have requested they run this to slow down the cancellations.
bump for a good one.