Washington, D.C. -- Last weekend at Fed Ex Field, just outside the nation's capital, the self-styled all-American rock-and-roller Bruce Springsteen played one of his marathon sessions to an enthusiastic crowd. They were approving -- that is, until "The Boss" interrupted his performance to complain about domestic politics and the war on terror.
Springsteen informed the crowd that people of all political stripes attend his concerts and everybody is welcome -- "with the exception of Dick Cheney." Springsteen has banned the vice president of the United States from his concerts -- not that Cheney would go anyway -- because he is part of an administration that Springsteen accuses of "playing with the truth during wartime." Springsteen is so upset that President George W. Bush is actually attacking the terrorists that he announced to the crowd, "It's time to impeach the president and replace him with the Big Man," referring to his longtime saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
Springsteen's tirade is part of the echo chamber that emanates from the presidential campaign trail in which Democratic candidates are using hateful and craven rhetoric to attack the president and his efforts to defend Americans from terrorism. Dick Gephardt calls the president a "miserable failure," and Al Sharpton calls him a "gang leader." They carp about "quagmire," whine about "winning the peace," and insist that America's fate in the war on terrorism should be turned over "to the U.N. and the international community."
Three days after Springsteen's tirade, Democrats on Capitol Hill were singing the same song. Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, with California minority leader Nancy Pelosi at his side, now claims that he was duped into voting for the war and demands that "somebody has to be held responsible" for what he now perceives as a good idea gone bad.
Who should be held responsible -- Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, who has won two wars in two years, or Attorney General John Ashcroft, who, unlike Janet Reno, is actually taking steps to capture and incarcerate terrorists? The United States is engaged in a war on terrorism -- a war that started long before Sept. 11, 2001 -- and while it may not be pretty (no war is), President Bush and his team are actually fighting it, unlike his predecessor.
And so the criticisms of presidential wannabes and Hollywood elites beg the question: Do you really want to return to the days of Bill Clinton, when the United States refused to participate in a war that was being foisted upon us?
Clinton's initiation to the evils of terrorism came early in his tenure. About a month after his inauguration -- on Feb. 26, 1993 -- terrorists rented a van, packed it with more than 2,000 pounds of explosives, and parked it in the garage of the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000. Their goal was to bring down the building and murder tens of thousands of Americans, and President Clinton's response was to "discourage the American people from overreacting."
We know that Clinton did not overreact. He went back to the bungling and fumbling of his administration, trying repeatedly to nominate an attorney general sans a "nanny problem." We wound up with "Fireball" Janet Reno. Reno immediately went to work to teach the terrorists a lesson -- a lesson in death and destruction, that is -- and she used the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, as her tutorial. In the immediate aftermath of a major terrorist attack on American soil, Clinton's attorney general directed the attention of the FBI, the Justice Department and the media on a barn in Waco, where 80 people, including 25 children, would be killed in a conflagration.
Clinton's response to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City was to blame it on conservative radio talk show hosts. The constant distractions of the Whitewater controversy, among others, in 1995 and 1996 prevented Clinton from doing much about the terrorist attacks, which killed 26 people and injured nearly 600 on Nov. 13, 1995, in Riyadh and June 25, 1996, at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
On Aug. 7, 1998, terrorists attacked U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing more than 300 and injuring more than 5,000. Then, three days after Clinton went on national television to finally admit that he did have sexual relations with "that woman," he further depleted our precious supply of cruise missiles by attacking a tent camp in Afghanistan and an aspirin factory in Khartoum.
Then came the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000, which killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others. The Clinton administration treated the attack more like a bank robbery in Peoria than an act of war against our nation. That would explain why for days after the attack, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright insisted we were "unable to state with certainty that this was a terrorist attack."
Bruce Springsteen and his liberal cronies may not like it, but in George W. Bush, America has a commander in chief who will ensure the safety of the nation and its citizens. After all, Bruce, when it comes to the war on terrorism, Bill Clinton's theme was "Born to Run," but George W. Bush's is "No Surrender."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.