As military historian and American Enterprise Institute scholar Frederick W. Kagan writes in this week's The Weekly Standard: "The measure of success is not the number of 'trained' Iraqi battalions available, but the defeat of the insurgency. Both the strategy and the message must be: America will not leave Iraq until the Sunni Arabs, and all other groups and ethnicities, have abandoned the hope that violence will lead to political advantage."
To that end, the president should announce a plan to increase the size of the Army, which, as Kagan writes, could and should have been done as early as 2001. If it had been done as late as 2003, new troops would now be available to help crush the Sunni-Arab opposition and to persuade them we have no intention of withdrawing until the job is complete. They have based their hopes on America cutting and running.
Following through on his pledge to do something serious about illegal immigration would also go a long way to rekindling the fire of support for the president that is in danger of going out in many conservative bellies.
If Harriet Miers withdraws her name for consideration as a Supreme Court Justice, or if her nomination is defeated in the Senate, a known conservative would be just the ticket for rousing the base from its growing disgust.
President Bush must redefine himself publicly and for his own sake. What does he see beyond the face in the mirror and beneath the words others write for him? Where are his convictions and positions on which he will not compromise or falter? The contemporary "George W." must constantly restate what is at stake domestically and in the war against radical Islam and he must never give up or compromise these principles.
Concerning that other "George W.," McCullough writes, "Above all, Washington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up."
A lot is riding on whether this "George W." has that same attitude and vision.