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

Tony Blankley

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More than cynicism will be needed to defeat prez | Our Founding Fathers got it almost completely wrong. They worried about an uninformed and easily excitable public losing its mind and demanding shortsighted government actions that would undercut our long-term interests. They feared mobs running wild in the streets. So they designed a form of government — and particularly the Senate — that would be slow to act or react to the passing public tempests. But it turns out that the public is the cool, mature and stoic element of our society, while the Washington politicians — particularly the senators — and the media that cover them, are running wild, shrieking "all is lost" in Iraq and the war on terrorism.

In Senate hearings yesterday, Senator McCain — who once upon a time in a Vietnamese sky above and prison below, showed such courage, patriotism and noble patience during his heroic service to our country — couldn't have been more rude and interruptive during the testimony of Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz. He would cut off the Deputy Secretary in mid-sentence to try to distort the meaning of the testimony. But then, the television cameras were running at the time. The senator is known to be gracious with prospective witnesses in private, before their testimony, only to rip them apart in the nationally televised portion of the event.

In a particularly inane and demagogic legislative maneuver, 75 Democratic congressmen are supporting a bill written by Congressman Rahm Emanuel (one of Bill Clinton's former political operatives) that would require the administration to spend the same amount on rebuilding schools and hospitals in the United States as it spends in Iraq. Whether he wants to spend another $70-$80 billion here or not spend it in Iraq is unclear. Either alternative is irrational to the point of dementia.

But the Democrats' major legislative contribution to the war effort appears to be a plan — described yesterday by the ranking House Democrat on the Budget Committee, that would roll back at least part of the Bush tax cuts as the price the president would have to pay to get the needed war funds. This would have the added advantage, from the Democrats' point of view, of tipping the economy back into a recession just before the election (the good congressman did not mention this part of his plan). We need a new term to describe such legislative blackmail. I would call it political war profiteering. In the good old days in China, they used to summarily crucify war profiteers. Today, all we can do is inject them with a lethal dose of public scorn.

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But beyond the cynical political exploitation of a dangerous moment, the larger measure of the Washington political class (with the exception of the president and a few others) is that it has simply lost its nerve. Both Democrats and Republicans are desperately turning to the United Nations to save our skins. (While Bush merely wants to use the U.N. as a fig leaf for some countries to contribute troops and money, most of the politicians want to use the U.N., as a fig leaf for the U.S. to extract ourselves from Iraq). If our fate is to be in the hands of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, it's time to cash in our T-bills and move to Saskatchewan.

While the political class is coming down with a bad case of cowardice in the face of the enemy, the American public, according to the latest polls, remains calm and determined. According to yesterday's ABC poll, the public supports U.S. military presence in Iraq by 67 percent to 30 percent. Sixty-eight percent support the troops and the Bush administration policy on Iraq. Only 29 percent support the troops but oppose Bush policy. By 52 percent to 45 percent the public believes that the U.S. is doing a "good" or "excellent" job restoring order. And by an impressive 65 percent to 31 percent, Americans believe that the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism.

According to the most recent Gallup Poll, released Sept. 5 and Sept. 8, while the percentage of Americans worried about being personally a victim of a terrorist attack has gone up from 30 percent to 41 percent, they nonetheless approve of Bush's anti-terrorism policy by 66 percent to 31 percent. And overall, they give him a high 59-percent job approval rating expressly because of his performance on Iraq and foreign affairs. These numbers reflect a strong vote of confidence in the president, especially in light of the last few months of terrible media coverage and mixed results in Iraq.

The American public clearly understands we live in hard and dangerous times. They understand that this president, or any president, will not always judge future events presciently or execute policy flawlessly. But they trust him overall. If the Democrats hope to defeat him next year, they are going to have to offer something more than their current cynicism, defeatism and fear in the face of the enemy. The polling suggests that the American people will demand a commitment to victory.

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Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

09/03/03: Dead Man Politickin'
08/27/03: Patience is not America's long suit
08/13/03: George Will's trifecta of punitive aspirations
07/30/03: A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on?
07/23/03: When GOPers attack their leader
07/17/03: Spanish fest mirrors U.S. elections
07/09/03: On the horns of a dilemma
06/25/03: The continuing deaths of American and British soldiers in Iraq should not be rhetorically minimized -- but sanctified
06/18/03: No reason to feel defensive about criticism of the war on terrorism
06/11/03: The Clintons — self-proclaimed geniuses — have no defense against the charge of cunning mendacity
06/04/03: George 'Machiavelli' Bush? Nah
05/28/03: When 'progressives' become reactionaries
05/21/03: Yes, this conservative is defending the NYTimes
05/14/03: Playing the politics of deflation
05/07/03: Only the stupid could think it'll be the economy: Comparing the Bushes 04/30/03: How to squelch increasing Iraqi distrust of America
04/25/03: Winning the war, losing the peace
04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2002, Creators Syndicate