As Americans prepare for the holidays with their families and loved ones, we have many challenges to face but also many reasons to be thankful. We are thankful we live in a nation that is still a land of freedom, hope and opportunity. And we can be thankful that President Bush has kept us safe. Too often our politicians in Washington and on the campaign trail seem to have forgotten this simple fact.
It was disheartening when Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) questioned the sworn testimony of General David Petraeus, the troop commander of our forces in Iraq, when he reported on the success of the surge. A disbelieving Senator Clinton said reports of progress require "the willing suspension of disbelief." We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that Senator Clinton was wrong and General Petraeus was right, and yet to this day she has refused to apologize for her unwarranted attack on the integrity of one of our finest soldiers. Even in my own party, Governor Mike Huckabee criticized President Bush by accusing him of "an arrogant bunker mentality" in dealing with other nations around the world. Just like Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee has refused to apologize.
It was not always this way. Michigan's Senator Arthur Vandenberg once observed that politics "stops at the water's edge." Today, it is easy and popular to attack the President when he is down in the opinion polls. Yet, we must also remember that the nature of Washington's politics has helped drive the approval of the Democratic-led Congress to even lower approval levels, indeed some of the lowest in history. It is no wonder Americans have lost faith in Washington. Our fortunes either rise together, or fall together. Our next President will only succeed if he has the support of people of good will in both political parties.
In the wake of 9/11, the President took unprecedented steps to keep us safe and defend Americans at home and abroad. We revamped our homeland security apparatus, passed new laws that allowed us to listen in when al-Qaeda was calling, cleared out terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and successfully toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Far from home, our soldiers, National Guard and Reserves, have overcome early strategic mistakes to make progress in Iraq that is both undeniable and should be welcomed by all. This progress has come as America's heroes and their families have made unequalled sacrifices. They have done this in the face of extended and repeated tours with aging equipment as a result of military troop levels and funding that were cut far too deeply in the 1990s. President Bush has taken an important first step by asking for an increase in military spending. We must build on this effort to provide our soldiers and their families with the support, equipment and health care they need.
A half century ago, our mothers and fathers in the Greatest Generation came together to defeat fascism and communism, promote freedom and civil rights, and build a strong and prosperous country that is the envy of the world. They showed that there is no threat that a united America cannot defeat. By remembering their example, we can overcome the challenges that confront us.