Democrats - Bush Speech Failure - Didn't Call Iraq a Quagmire
This time last year, it seems that every breath out of the mouth of the liberal Democrats, and most notably those in the Senate was "Halliburton". Today, it's "quagmire". It a cute little word that means something like "quicksand" or a muddy trap. It was used plenty in Vietnam, which is why the left likes to use it for this war as well.
The President hit the airwaves last night and did a nice job laying out the ground covered and the road ahead in Iraq. And he made clear, as he did on 9/11 that this will not be an easy task, nor one done quickly. We have to be patient. The victory does not arrive by FedEx in the morning.
But if you ask people like Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) one of the more liberal and obnoxious members of the Senate Democrat crew, the speech last night was a failure because the president did not describe Iraq as a quagmire. Other wingnuts are making the point that Bush needed to equate Iraq with 9/11 and terrorism. Which leads me to believe that they are either dim, think the same of the American people, or are simply trying to backtrack politically in the war on terror. These people want the news in Iraq to be bad. They want a second Vietnam to relive their angry youth. They have an inherent dislike for our military since that era, and see the United States as the world's bad guy.
Bush made only a cursory effort last night to link Iraq to 9/11. Because he knows that it's yesterday's argument. People aren't as concerned about the justification, but rather a scorecard. 9/11 and WMD have been essentially "priced in" to the Iraq justification to use John McIntyre's argument. People weren't happy when the weapons weren't found, but we disgorged a bad guy, and now they just want to hear about progress and the outlook. They won't be troubled if they see this one being a winner for us and for the people of Iraq. But what Bush did do last night is something rare.
Rather than using the speech as a defensive mechanism, he simply said that we are staying as long as it takes to get the work we started finished, and we are not establishing an artificial timetable which would provide the terrorists a clock to run out. It would insult the soldiers who have fought and died, those who fought and lived, for those who still fight, and for those who are on their way. Their sacrifices are not the kind of thing we can blow off in order to quell the noisy left and the MSM that gives them the megaphone. As he often does, he simply stated that the game plan remains the same.
But he left out what I thought would be a significant portion of the speech which probably would have taken up only a few seconds. He should have said something like this:
I understand that some disagree with the fact that we are in Iraq, and it is the kind of thing about which responsible and good people can discuss and disagree. But there can be no disagreement that irresponsible and exaggerated talk for personal and political satisfaction not only undermines the work our military is doing, but it weakens their strong resolve to see their mission through. So I would say to all listening, please spare our military the insult of words like "quagmire," "disaster," "failure," "defeat," "Nazi," "gulag" and the like. Because such talk, while designed to strike at my Administration, instead strikes at the Americans who are doing the hard and very dangerous work of keeping us safe from terror and securing Iraq for the future. It also emboldens our enemies. We have a right to speak our opinions, but we also have the responsibility to do it in light of the facts, taken as a whole.
Rather than a defensive response, it would have put the burden on the left to make their crackpot declarations in light of the entirely of the facts.
But I think the conclusion said more about the speech than anything else. Bush choked up when talking about the military and their strength. He is in this thing with these people, and he personally loves them. He takes seriously their concerns and those of their family. Which means that he does not lightly send them into danger.
It's no longer about linking Iraq to 9/11. The left is trying to de-legitimize the war by revisiting ground already covered. The problem is that they either forget or do not care that their selfish political work actually hurts their nation and the people defending it, while encouraging the enemy who sees a political opening.
Bush met the objective with his speech. But the need for the speech could have been avoided. This White House is notoriously bad about communicating and reinforcing what is a very welcome message about the nature of this war. The White House needs to get their communication act in gear, because the Democrats are quick to go to the cameras and the papers in order to spread perceptions about this war in the absence of facts. We cannot maintain the war on terror without also maintaining the support for it among the people.
And it's unfortunately necessary to do that when one of the major political parties is led by people who tirelessly and shamelessly work to undermine the war on terror simply because a Republican is in the White House and commanding the troops.