But beyond the cynical political exploitation of a dangerous moment, the larger measure of the Washington political class (with the exception of the president and a few others) is that it has simply lost its nerve. Both Democrats and Republicans are desperately turning to the United Nations to save our skins. (While Bush merely wants to use the U.N. as a fig leaf for some countries to contribute troops and money, most of the politicians want to use the U.N., as a fig leaf for the U.S. to extract ourselves from Iraq). If our fate is to be in the hands of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, it's time to cash in our T-bills and move to Saskatchewan.
While the political class is coming down with a bad case of cowardice in the face of the enemy, the American public, according to the latest polls, remains calm and determined. According to yesterday's ABC poll, the public supports U.S. military presence in Iraq by 67 percent to 30 percent. Sixty-eight percent support the troops and the Bush administration policy on Iraq. Only 29 percent support the troops but oppose Bush policy. By 52 percent to 45 percent the public believes that the U.S. is doing a "good" or "excellent" job restoring order. And by an impressive 65 percent to 31 percent, Americans believe that the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism.
According to the most recent Gallup Poll, released Sept. 5 and Sept. 8, while the percentage of Americans worried about being personally a victim of a terrorist attack has gone up from 30 percent to 41 percent, they nonetheless approve of Bush's anti-terrorism policy by 66 percent to 31 percent. And overall, they give him a high 59-percent job approval rating expressly because of his performance on Iraq and foreign affairs. These numbers reflect a strong vote of confidence in the president, especially in light of the last few months of terrible media coverage and mixed results in Iraq.
The American public clearly understands we live in hard and dangerous times. They understand that this president, or any president, will not always judge future events presciently or execute policy flawlessly. But they trust him overall. If the Democrats hope to defeat him next year, they are going to have to offer something more than their current cynicism, defeatism and fear in the face of the enemy. The polling suggests that the American people will demand a commitment to victory.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.