Say you're an average congressman. How do you react to President Bush's Iraq speech? You suspect, deep down, that he's probably doing more or less what he needs to do. We can't just click our heels and get out of Iraq--the consequences would be disastrous. And the current strategy isn't working. You have said so yourself. Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You've complained that there weren't enough troops. What's more, you've heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?
But, hey . . . look at those polls! And those op-ed pages! You didn't come to Washington to support an unpopular president conducting an unpopular war. And the Bush administration is doing a crummy job of explaining this change in strategy. The path ahead in any case is going to be tough, and the new strategy might fail. Besides which, being for "escalation" sure doesn't sound good. Wasn't that a problem in Vietnam?
So you work on your talking points: You understand the president has a tough set of choices. You've got doubts about the path he's chosen. You've got lots of questions. But perhaps we should give it a chance . . .
Read it all. Kristol is correct in asserting that, what I call the nothingness of the Democrats, has spread and become a bipartisan affliction. He calls those suffering from it "Boneless Wonders" for good reason. These so-called "leaders" would rather do what is easy and popular, rather than do what is right.
I touched on this in a post I did in November, 2005, relating to Harry Potter. There is a reason JK Rowling's Potter series has become the metaphor for our times in much the same way that JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was a metaphor for World War II--and still has enormous relevance for today's conflict with the Islamofascist barbarians:
When Dumbledore says to Harry at the end of the movie (paraphrasing), "Dark and difficult times lay ahead. Soon we will have to decide between doing what is easy and what is right." [In the book, Dumbledore tells all the Hogwarts students: "Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because, he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."]
Meanwhile, yesterday also saw a heated debate in Congress and voting on a resolution that forced the Democrats to put their money where their mouth has been for the last year. It overwhelmingly failed.In short, it failed because the Democrats--who have been whining about Iraq and undermining all progress there since before last year's presidential election--also know the value of public opinion. They have been catering to their base for some time instead of doing what needs to be done to win this war.
The Democrats always want to go the easy way. That's why they put such stock in opinion polls. Doing what needs to be done is not always popular. The hard choices; the right choices are beyond them--unless they feel the polls are with them, then it becomes easy for them.
Last night, Congress did what was right; and finally stopped sliding toward what was easy.
But this isn't the end. There will be many such choices in the next couple of years both for Congress and for the American people. How to wage this war is up for debate. But no sane person can still be debating on whether to wage it. It is all around us--in Paris, Germany, England, Indonesia, Africa, Pakistan....not just in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The evil we are confronting in the world is not going to go quietly away. Thousands and perhaps millions (if Zarqawi, Zawahiri, and Bin Laden have their way) of innocent people will continue to stray into the path of this evil and they will suffer and die because of it.
It would be easy to pretend that this danger to life; to peace; to civilization did not exist.
Dark and difficult times lay ahead. I hope we will continue to choose what is right.
President Bush has made it clear that he will stand against the spreading darkness, no matter how many revile him for it; and as long as someone like him is President, a person who--for all his flaws and mistakes, and despite all the hatred and vitriol directed at him--continues to choose what is right; then I continue to have hope that we will prevail in the dark and difficult times ahead.
If it were left to the "boneless wonders" of our Congress, the spreading darkness of Tolkien's Mordor; as well as the vicious malice of Rowling's Voldemort would most certainly be unopposed.
UPDATE: Jules Crittendon definitely gets it:
Ironically, here is a U.S. president at longlast doing what Jimmy Carter refused to do, take tough action on Iranian Islamists, against the advice of his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a failure that kicked off our 28-year-war with Iran and Islamic extremism. But who is Zbig criticizing today?
They laugh at him because he doesn't speak well. Makes funny faces and looks like a chimp. Made mistakes in the execution of this war, a war his short-sighted critics say never should have happened. But he gets it and finally, he's acting on it.