It didn’t take long after President Bush’s address to the United Nations for the pundits to pounce—it’s just too bad those “pundits” were posing as reporters.
The San Francisco Chronicle slapped Bush for his “disdain for international treaties” and the New York Times informed us that Bush received “scathing reviews” on Capitol Hill. What a shock: political enemies made nasty comments on the cusp of an election year.
Perhaps most bizarre was the Washington Post assessment—thankfully labeled as “analysis,” though written by one of the paper’s regular reporters—that Bush’s speech was “a vague pitch” that left “mostly puzzlement.” The Post must not have had anybody watching the President.
To those who actually heard Bush—as opposed to what they wanted to hear—the message was clear. The President passionately defended the decision to take out perhaps the world’s most ruthless tyrant, and though Bush once again was offering the UN a shot at avoiding obsolescence, he was not about to let the bungling bureaucracy make a complete mess of Iraq.
Considering that going to the UN offers little upside—a decision for which Bush has himself to blame—the commander-in-chief did his best to make lemonade. He could have asked to put the coalition’s military forces into the UN’s little blue caps. He didn’t. The President could have tried to hand over civilian authority to the UN—despite the widespread malfeasance that plagued the international body’s management of the disastrous oil-for-food program that lined Saddam’s pockets. He didn’t.
In fact, the President even resisted France’s superficially appealing—but disingenuous—ploy to hand over the reins of power to the recently-formed Iraqi Governing Council. France wants this rapid transfer either as a means for it to secure more oil contracts or to hinder Iraq’s regeneration as a way to prove accurate its pre-war warnings—or both.
But Bush left little room for misunderstanding on this point, noting that establishment of a new democracy is a “process (that) must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis — neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.”
It was by no means a remarkable speech, but it did reinforce the essence of this President. He may have a disenchantment or even a disdain for details, and he may allow his advisors to conduct debates on the front page of the Washington Post or the New York Times—but he rarely wavers in any meaningful way.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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