Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where was George?

Revisiting Ann Richard's inane question in 1988 about his father, this George Bush hasn't been around since sometime in the first half of 2003. From the whitehouse.gov transcript of his Veterans Day speech:
In the four years since September the 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days, in other places -- in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Netanya and Baghdad, and elsewhere....

All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness -- innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology -- a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews -- and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision....

We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it -- in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and on websites.

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.
Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, their "resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands." The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century: They hit us, and expect us to run....

With the greater economic, military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction; to destroy Israel; to intimidate Europe; to assault the American people; and to blackmail our government into isolation....
Good, very good. He reiterated why we must struggle against the terrorists, and not just hope they'll leave us alone. He pointed to what Zarqawi and Zawahiri have said, specific examples of why they really hate us.

The terrorists did not leave innocent Jordanians alone. The victims were fellow Muslims, and hardly collaborators with Israel. If the terrorists killed them, why should we think the terrorists will leave Westerners and Western nations alone if we tuck tail and run?
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
Bush said what he ought to have said in the debate: "Look, Senator Kerry, even you and other top Democrats said Saddam was dangerous and needed to be disarmed!"

His speechwriters wrote a brilliant neo-conservative speech that exposed the now anti-war Democrats for the hypocrites they are. Michelle Malkin has a roundup of the speech's effect, namely, giving courage to those who supported removing Saddam from power but who seem to have lost their fortitude in the last couple of years.

And from President Bush's speech tonight at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage:
On September the 11th, 2001, history called on our nation to defend freedom once again. On that morning more than four years ago, Americans witnessed the violence and the hatred of a new enemy. We saw the terrorists' destructive vision for us and for all who love freedom. And in the face of this threat, our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive, we will not wait to be attacked again, and we will press on until this war is won....

Some might be tempted to dismiss the terrorist goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme -- but we cannot afford to dismiss them. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory....

First, we are determined to prevent attacks by terrorist networks -- by protecting the homeland, and working with our allies to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership....

Second, we are determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation....

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes....

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror....

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. If the Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation as free men and free women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end. History has proven that free nations are peaceful nations, and that democracies do not fight their neighbors. By advancing the hope of freedom and democracy for others, we make our own freedom more secure....

The outcome of this war will affect every single American. And that makes it a subject of vital debate. And it's important to be clear about the facts. When our nation was attacked on September the 11th, leaders of both political parties recognized a new reality: If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. We had to take a hard look at every threat to America after September the 11th, and when we did, one stood apart: Saddam Hussein.

Under Saddam's dictatorship, Iraq was the only country in the world where American military pilots faced regular attack. Iraq was the only country that had used chemical weapons on its own people, invaded its neighbors, and fought a war against the United States and a great coalition. Iraq was only one of seven countries listed as a state sponsor of terror, and it was judged by intelligence agencies around the globe to possess weapons of mass destruction. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein a final chance to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, ordering him to disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. When he refused, we had a choice: Do we take the word of a madman and forget the lessons of September the 11th, or do we take action to defend our country? Given that choice, I will defend America every time....

Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.

Let me give you some quotes from three senior Democrat leaders: First, and I quote, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons." Another senior Democrat leader said, "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." Here's another quote from a senior Democrat leader: "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think the President is approaching this in the right fashion."

They spoke the truth then, and they're speaking politics now.
Snopes has the best collection of various Democrat leaders' statements on Saddam and denying him the capacity for WMDs. My favorite:

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

Right behind:

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

Perhaps Democrats would like to sacrifice one of their own, and dismiss "unmistakable evidence" as just like Dan Rather's "unimpeachable source"?

I, for one, am glad to have the September 12th George W. Bush back. The next step is using the power of the "bully pulpit" -- which Arnold Schwarzenegger has failed to do in California -- and tell Americans the truth about our economy. The fact is that it's doing great. Katrina and the loss of much of New Orleans put hardly a dent into the total economic output. Oil and gasoline prices are dropping, and even when pump prices were over $3 per gallon, we found ways to cope.

Another thing the White House should do, but it can't because most Americans would not understand, is expose the myth that the trade deficit (particularly with China) is bad. The first step is a gag order on its economically illiterate staff (who admittedly are just trying to put the administration in a better light). I've covered this topic before, also offering some thoughts on one of Walter Williams' columns.

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