Cal  Thomas

Congress returned to town this week for an abbreviated session. One doesn't need to be psychic to predict little will be accomplished in the run-up to the November election. Democrats, aided by their many media allies, can be counted on to parrot their latest line about the "incompetent" Bush administration.

When gas prices rose to near record levels this summer, it was supposedly due to the incompetence of the Bush administration. Gas prices have now dropped to well under $3 a gallon where I live. If it was Bush's "incompetence" that caused the spike, does he now get credit for the decline? Market forces set gas prices, so he should neither be blamed for the spike, nor praised for the decline, but the Democrats won't see it that way.

August employment figures again show a healthy economy due largely to what Democrats call "irresponsible" tax cuts for the wealthy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total non-farm payroll employment increased by 128,000 last month, with the unemployment rate staying at a low 4.7 percent. Does the president get competence points for this? Not from Democrats.

The war on terror scored an important victory last weekend with the arrest of al-Qaida's No. 2 in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi. Iraqi and coalition forces issued a statement that said the arrest has caused al-Qaida a "serious leadership crisis." Will Democrats and their media allies praise the Bush administration for this sign of competence in fighting the Iraq War? No, because this is about Democrats regaining power and nothing more. Were the Bush administration to announce it had discovered the fountain of youth and cures for cancer and adolescent rebellion, it wouldn't be enough.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has repeatedly stressed that the war with terrorism will be long, difficult and frustrating. It is unlike any war the country has fought and so all comparisons - from the time it is taking, to the number of casualties - are imperfect. It is not a war America chose to begin; it is a war the United States could not escape.

This war was unavoidable, because religious fanatics concluded a new strategy was needed after Arab states lost five wars to Israel. They viewed Israel as strong - until the Lebanon fiasco - and the United States weak. That weakness, they determined, wasn't in military might, but in staying power. They calculated the United States lacks the stomach for a long war, especially one fueled by religious fanaticism.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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