December 21, 2005
How Bush Turned It Around
Men who believe
in something, even if wrong, will triumph over those who believe
in nothing. That is the lesson of the Bush recovery of the past
when Cindy Sheehan set up Camp Casey to bedevil his vacation in
Crawford -- which was cut short by Katrina and then the New Orleans
debacle -- to November, George W. Bush seemed a man at sea.
to the war was rising to 60 percent, his approval rating had plummeted
to 36 percent, his credibility appeared fatally impaired. There
seemed a danger that, for three more years, an America at war
would be led by a broken president.
has one advantage over his adversaries. He believes in the war
and has the courage of his convictions. Unlike most of the antiwar
politicians and demonstrators, he does not go limp when the nightsticking
starts. His defiance calls to mind Lincoln's:
do the very best I know how -- the very best I can; and I mean
to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right,
what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings
me out wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
Bush's strength is that he has made his peace with the idea that
his presidency stands or falls with Iraq.
set out in four speeches to defend his war policy, rally the nation,
and characterize his opposition as trumpeters of retreat and defeat.
By the Thursday of the Iraqi election, he had reduced them to
squabbling and acrimonious incoherence.
to undermine the heartening headlines out of Iraq on the successful
election, The New York Times plastered on its front page
a story it had been holding for a year: that President Bush had
authorized secret eavesdropping by the National Security Agency
of telephone calls from U.S. citizens to terrorist suspects abroad.
for 24 hours, the president came out smoking, dropping his Saturday
morning radio address for an eight-minute televised address from
the Roosevelt Room that bristled with angry defiance.
President Bush said: Yes, I authorized the eavesdropping -- to
protect America in a time of war. I have the authority to do it.
I vetted it with Justice. I informed Congress half a dozen times.
And those who leaked and who published this state secret destroyed
a crucial program, damaged our national security, aided our terrorist
enemies and are lacking in patriotism, if they are not engaging
political adversaries, save a handful, headed for the tall grass.
That left the challenge to his authority to the press. On Monday,
Bush used that White House press corps as a foil to repeat his
charge that the Times and its leaker-collaborators were engaged
in "shameful" misconduct that would almost certainly
be investigated by the Department of Justice.
In his Sunday
night address, carried by all three networks and all the cable
news networks, President Bush altered his demeanor entirely. He
made a reasoned and compelling case for why those who opposed
the war, and those who disagree with his policy and war leadership,
should yet stand by him.
he said, "conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another
dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our military commanders
don't believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden
and make the sacrifices, do not believe that America has lost.
And not even the terrorists believe it."
Is he not
And if our
soldiers in the field believe in and wish to fight on in this
cause unto victory, upon what ground do we stand to declare them
defeated and to deny them that right?
also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision
to send troops to Iraq," the president said. "I have
heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet
now there are only two options before our country -- victory or
Is he not
Bush also warned that too rapid a U.S. withdrawal risks a U.S.
defeat that would abandon our Iraqi friends to untold horrors,
signal a lack of American resolve, undermine the morale of our
armed forces, and embolden our enemies across the Middle East
and terrorists worldwide.
he not have a point?
of the Oval Office, these last four weeks are an object lesson
in how an embattled president who believes in the righteousness
of his cause and is willing to put his office on the line can
always, especially on an issue of war or national security, rout
an adversary, even one with the backing of the national press.
has just bought himself another six months to a year to win this.
2005 Creators Syndicate