Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2004/ 12 Tishrei, 5765

Wesley Pruden

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Stinging Kerry with the luck of the Irish | If money is the mother's milk of politics, luck is the red meat on which winners feed. George W. Bush is only a few ancestors shy of being an Englishman, but he inherited the luck of the Irish.

He gets to run against John Kerry.

Iyad Allawi, the prime minister of the new government in Iraq, went to Congress yesterday to extend his nation's gratitude, to "thank America" for the liberation. Old Europe and the Old Democrats sneer, but he sounded sincere, grateful and humbled by the American sacrifice.

Despite struggles and setbacks, he said, "the values of liberty and democracy are taking hold."

"We could hold elections tomorrow in 15 of 18 provinces ... . The insurgency in Iraq is destructive, but small, and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people."

Members of Congress leaped to their feet several times to applaud; even some Democrats in the chamber seemed moved by the authentic emotion of the moment. This gravely undercuts Monsieur Kerry's determined mission to "keep hopelessness alive." He scoffs that Mr. Allawi — who might not even speak French — is little more than a feisty terrier sent by George W. to bark at Congress.

Monsieur Kerry imagines American voters are longing for dreary pessimism and morbid despair. Ronald Reagan set the standard for success with his flags, bunting, stirring music and his invocation of "morning in America." The monsieur thinks it's time now for "mourning in America," and for crepe, funerary music and doleful obsequies at the burial of the dream of better days in the Middle East.

"The prime minister and the president are here, obviously, to put their best face on the policy," he said, mocking Mr. Allawi's message at a gloomy rally of true unbelievers in Ohio, "but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story."

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Monsieur Kerry was particularly upset by the prime minister's reassurance that elections would be held in Iraq in January, as scheduled. The latest Kerry campaign, reconstituted for the third time, is premised on the prospect of unremitting disaster in Iraq. "The United States and the Iraqis have retreated from whole areas of Iraq. There are no-go zones in Iraq today. You can't hold an election in a no-go zone."

Neither Monsieur Kerry nor his men (and women) appear to get it. Americans have never warmed to messages of despair. The Sioux, the Cheyenne and the Crow would still be hunting buffalo, undisturbed on the high plains, if the early European settlers had not been drawn to the new world by optimism, hope and cheerful confidence in their ability to accomplish the difficult, the arduous and the impossible. John Kerry would have been waiting at Plymouth Rock to warn them to go home, that the Indians would eat them if the wild beasts didn't. (Fortunately for all of us, on the day the Mayflower sailed into Plymouth, he was wind-surfing off the coast at Cannes.)

George W. can be thankful that Monsieur Kerry is who he is and his party is what it has become, a tattered shrinking tent dominated by a collection of embittered sad sacks who imagine that America is always the problem, never the solution. Another Democrat, of the kind now all but extinct, could be running away with this election by running to the right of the president.

George W.'s vulnerability is the Republican instinct to make nice with the unforgiving enemy, the urge to persuade skeptics that "we're really not as bad as you think." The president's reluctance to go for the kill in Iraq, to retreat from the vandals and thugs trying to become an insurgency, is a fair target for criticism. But Monsieur Kerry, who wants above all to be thought well of by Old Europe, is not the man to attempt it. The anti-war party of Mr. Magoo and the little Duke would rise up against him if he tried.

Nothing would rally the nation like teaching the Islamists (and the many sympathizers among mainstream Muslims) who shoot children and behead innocents with hands tied behind their backs a lesson they wouldn't forget, like unleashing the Marines to clean out Fallujah. The Muslims are not like Methodists, only different, and every time the president says they are, his friends gag and console themselves that he doesn't really believe it any more than the rest of America does.

George W. seems determined to rebuild Iraq the hard way, as an example to the Arabs of how to live in the 21st century, which is too bad. But John Kerry doesn't want to do it at all, which could doom civilization to endless retreat from reality. Not a winning prospect.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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