Unlike the Clintonian finger-in-the-wind approach, Bush knows what he believes on issues where true leadership is a necessity. He believes in freedom, democracy, and human rights—which means he will refuse to give the UN the power to thwart those values from becoming a reality in the newly liberated Iraq.
And while he could have used the UN address as a forum to backtrack on or rejigger the doctrine of pre-emption in the wake of international condemnation, Bush stuck to his belief that America’s security is more important than its popularity.
Bush’s refusal to chase the tide of public opinion has cost him in the otherwise utterly useless polls pitting him against potential Democratic opponents—something that no doubt is contributing to the current wave of negative press coverage of the President. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that Bush was slightly behind both Sen. John Kerry and former General Wesley Clark in head-to-head match-ups.
But here’s the key difference between the commander-in-chief and the leading candidates in the pack of the pretenders to the throne: Bush can claim consistency in a way none of them can. Whereas Bush had the same plan all along—neutralizing the growing threat posed by Saddam—both Kerry and Clark tried to create a patch of gray on a black-and-white issue.
Former war veteran-slash-Vietnam War protester Kerry voted for the Congressional authorization of the war, only to find himself kissing the anti-war left just months later. And Clark, replacing Dean as the new press gadfly, at first said he would have supported the war resolution, only to change his mind moments later.
Even with the press hammering away at Bush for the next year, the real question for next fall is: will voters make principle in politics the winning virtue?
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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