In its instant analysis of Bush’s speech Tuesday night, the Washington Post wrote that the “address continued a shift” in the administration’s justifications of the war in Iraq to “now suggesting a more seamless link between Iraq and the [September 11] attacks.”
What reporters Dana Milbank and Peter Barker didn’t seem to understand, however, is that the President neither tried to “justify” the rationale for the war nor was there any “shift” in his position. While the speech contained little news of any sort, it did achieve a very important goal—one that is crucial in the face of the moveon.org crowd’s white noise campaign: it laid out in clear fashion the entire framework of what we’ve done in Iraq, what we’re doing now, where we’re headed, and most significantly, why it’s important that we prevail.
As we have been reminded ad nauseum, the President’s numbers have dropped significantly in recent months, none more precipitously than for how Americans believe he is handling the war in Iraq. It’s not that the situation in Iraq has not gotten worse—it hasn’t—but the left has maintained its massive campaign machinery, while Bush has been relatively quiet on Iraq this year.
Tuesday night, in fact, represented the most visible leadership Bush has provided on Iraq since November. While it made sense for the White House to allow the spotlight to shine on the new Iraqi government after the country’s first-ever elections in January, each passing month has seen the left dominate the discussion on Iraq. In that time, they’ve spent most of their efforts undermining the legitimacy of the war—no WMDs, Saddam wasn’t a threat, Bush “lied,” etc.—thinking that that would convince Americans to demand that we pull out of Iraq.
While enough Americans have been persuaded—temporarily, at least—such that a majority now believes that the war was not justified, the left’s ultimate objective of turning Americans against continued participation has not succeeded. Despite millions of dollars every week dedicated to undermining what young American men and women are trying to accomplish in Iraq, the American people have not been fooled by the left’s ceaseless campaign.
Without sugarcoating the realities in Iraq, Bush laid out an effective rationale for why we must not acquiesce to the enemy as moveon.org and many Congressional Democrats would have us do. In the clearest and most concise reasoning articulated thus far, Bush explained the perils in announcing a date certain for leaving Iraq:
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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