These growing sentiments -- shared by many who perceive that President Bush is already a wounded lame duck -- bode ill for the future, unless he can deliver a clear vision for the days ahead when he stands before the people on Tuesday evening. This will be no mean task.
The president's domestic opponents have been emboldened by the administration's paltry response to charges that the National Security Agency has been secretly "spying on American citizens." Some in Old Europe and others in Washington are taking seriously Osama bin Laden's recent audio tape in which the terror mastermind claims, "We don't mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to." Ariel Sharon's incapacitating stroke and the apparent success of Hamas -- an admitted terrorist organization -- in this week's Palestinian elections have thrown the Mid East peace process into turmoil. And now, the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program coupled with fear mongering over energy supplies is generating momentum among the same capitulationists who used to warn that we could never prevail against the Soviet Union.
It won't be enough for the president on Tuesday night to remind the American people that the economy is continuing to grow (4.1 percent last quarter) or that unemployment is now down to 4.9 percent. The masters of the media have already identified the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America members they will put on the air to blame the Bush administration for 30,000 Ford Motor Company layoffs. Nor will it suffice to point out that troop levels in Iraq are already dropping -- as are U.S. casualty rates -- down 26 percent from a year ago.
On Tuesday evening, Bush must address all of these issues -- but most importantly, he must reassure the undecided and uncertain that he has a clear plan for victory in the global war on terror. He would do well to remind the American people that it is thanks to heroes wearing uniforms and intelligence operations, like those undertaken by the NSA, that we have had no terror attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11. He must reject bin Laden's "truce" bid for what it is -- a page torn from Ho Chi Minh's playbook on how to stave off an American military victory. And while the French, Germans and Russians dither over what to do about Tehran's nuclear weapons ambitions, Bush should point them in the right direction by rejecting an Iranian appeal for direct commercial flights to and from the United States. Finally, he should appeal directly to the American people to demonstrate the same kind of resolve that our Armed Forces have displayed in defending this union.
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.