The front page of the Washington Post carried bad news for the anti-Bush media (redundant, I know). After all their rhetorical shelling of George Bush's position, and after all the press-conference demands for his apologies and admissions of incompetence, and after all the anguished highlighting of bad news from the Sunni Triangle, the latest ABC-Washington Post poll found that Bush has "significant advantages" over John F. Kerry with the public on dealing with Iraq and the war on terrorism. Kerry's domestic-issues advantage has also evaporated.
All this has happened as the poll respondents said the war and terrorism have become more important issues in recent weeks. Clearly, the poll results suggest the American people have seen President Bush's resolve as a war president, have liked his staunch talk in the face of media rudeness, and have concluded that What's-His-Long-Face from Massachusetts is giving the public a cold plate of political sniping instead of a principled alternative.
But there's something else the American people may like about Bush, something very American. His press conference was studded with passionate remarks about the spread of human freedom -- that liberty is not America's gift to the world but God's gift to all mankind. It is not just the thought, but the thought process that the media reject because they cannot recognize it: conservative idealism.
Liberals would like you to think that John F. Kerry is the second coming of John F. Kennedy, when in fact it is Bush whose message is eerily familiar to those who remember J.F.K. stating in his 1961 inaugural address that we would "bear any burden ... to ensure the survival and success of liberty."
By contrast, John Kerry thinks the solution in Iraq doesn't have to include democracy or freedom, but whatever stable dictatorship will allow us to disengage, as he told reporters in Harlem on April 14: "I have always said from day one that the goal here ... is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy. I can't tell you what it's going to be, but a stable Iraq. And that stability can take several different forms."
Without scouring Kerry's record of routine flip-flops, I wouldn't be too sure that this is what he's "said from day one," but there is a certain consistency here. In his 1971 book "The New Soldier," Kerry couldn't find any idealism about spreading democracy in Asia: "We were sent to Vietnam to kill Communism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children." In the book, Kerry stated that those poor benighted Vietnamese "didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy."