Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2003 / 13 Elul, 5763

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Facing down terrorists starts with facing down governmental accountants | The world is talking about the speech George Bush delivered Sunday night. It seems like everybody I have heard talking about the speech has their own agenda. You've got the Democratic critics. You have got the Republican apologists. You have got some international nitwits. But let's bottom-line it here.

Let's start out by saying, George Bush is no great communicator. His speeches have always failed to grab the public's imagination in a way that Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton's would. But he is a straight talker. And he believes that actions speak louder than words. And last night, he did something very important. First, the president of the United States finally told the American people that it is better off to fight this war on terror in the streets of Baghdad and Kabul than in Chicago and New York.

And it brings it home that this isn't a war about oil, or Jews, or empires or religion. It's a world war between America and the most radical Muslim extremists on the planet. Now, the White House has to do a better job at making that case to the American people and making that case every single day.

Secondly, the president put a price tag, finally put a price tag on the operation. And my contacts on the Hill tell me that Republicans and Democrats alike are privately complaining that the price tag is too high. And even though I promise you that this war's going to end up costing us much more than the president told us last night, George Bush needed to tell the American taxpayers what the price of this war would be. And last night was a good start.

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Finally, the one area where the president failed and where Republicans and Democrats alike will fail on the Hill is telling you and me exactly how we're going to pay for this world war. Liberals are going to say, we're going to pay for it by repealing the president's tax cuts. Conservatives are going to say, we are going to pay for it by cutting social programs.

But those in the mushy middle are going to attack both sides. And they're going to refuse to make a choice. And all this talk of courage that we have about taking on terrorists across the globe — well, politicians are going to fear responsibility the most. And they are going to end up spending another $100 billion in debt.

It seems that if we as a country are going to have the guts to face down terrorists across the globe, we should at least have the guts to face down our accountants here at home.

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