The Ports and November, 2006
If the issue is security, the solution will never be the election of more Democrats.
That’s the bottom line of the ports controversy, and the president’s continued defense of the deal today suggests that he knows that the longer the country studies any issue of national security, the better off he and his party will be.
“My position hasn’t changed to my message to the Congress,” Bush said. “If there was any doubt in my mind or people in my administration’s minds that our ports would be less secure or the American people in danger, this deal wouldn’t go forward.”
I have been reading Bill Sammon’s new book, Strategery, and on p. 36 he recounts a Bush press conference from the Sp[ring of 2004, which concluded when Bush replied to a question by NPR’s Don Gonyea on whether Bush though he had “failed as a communicator” on the war. Bush answered that the presidential campaign would answer that question:
I guess if you put it into a political context, that’s the kind of thing the voters will decide next November–that’s what elections are about. They’ll take a look at me and my opponent and say “Let’s see, which one of them can better win the War on Terror? Who best can see to it that Iraq emerges as a free society.?”
I feel strongly about what we’re doing. I feel strongly that the course this administration has taken will make America more secure and the world more free, and,therefor, the world more peaceful. It’s a conviction that’s deep in my soul. And I will say it as best as I possibly can to the American people.
What is a proper use of American power? Do we have an obligation to lead? Or should we shirk responsibility? That’s how I vciew this debate. And I look forward to making it, Don. I’ll do it the best I possibly can. I’ll give it the best shot. I’ll speak as plainly as I can. One thing is for certain, though, about me –and the world has learned this.
When I say something, I mean it.
The president appears to be counting on his well-earned reputation for sincerity on matters of security to settle the ports issue. It may, or it may not. But it is clear he doesn’t mind the debate. And increasingly it is obvious why not.
As with the Patriot Act, as with the debate over the NSA program to conduct surveillance of al Qaeda communicating with its agents inside America, and as with the war on all of its fronts, the president and the party he leads are serious about the debate and the stakes.
The Democrats aren’t.
A photo op at the harbor with Chuch Schumer and Hillary is just another in a long line of stunts that is supposed to pass as a policy: Congressman Murtha’s demand for an immediate withdrawal; Harry Reid’s gloating that he “had killed the Patriot Act,” John Kerry’s never-ending campaign –they are all the same stunt.
It didn’t work in 2002. It didn’t work in 2004. And it isn’t going to work in 2006.
If the issue is the nation’s secuirty in a time of grave and growing threats, the answer isn’t, and probably won’t be for at least a generation, the Democrats.
Bush is setting up the next eight months to be yet another referendum on the war’s conduct. Incredibly the Democrats have agreed to the terrain, which always has them fighting uphill. They seem to think that some combination of Katrina and the ports debate will allow them to emerge as a credible alternative on national security –when they refused to allow exploration in ANWR, opposed SCOTUS nominees in large part because Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito might agree that the president has stand-along war powers pursuant to Article II, and routinely argue idiocies like Dick Durbin’s assertion that members of the American military are similar in their action’s to the thugs of Hitler’s, Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s regime or Howard dean’s blanket assertion that the war can’t be won, and that it is another Vietnam.
The sneering and jeering of Democrats on the ports issue is instantly recognized as rank posturing, the political equivalent of a demand for better exercise equipment from the morbidly obese.
President Bush is flying off to India and Pakistan to greet and meet two allies in the GWOT, two allies he has nurtured along from the brink of nuclear war to parallel if not collaborative cooperation with the U.S. in the GWOT.
He’s betting the American electorate will want the real thing in November when it comes to serious national security policy.
The case for his optimism is compelling.