the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
No duh, of course. But what I’ve noticed is that Bush’s comments are increasingly ignored by Democrats. Sometimes that’s understandable, given all the stalled debates that everyone’s simply tired of hearing by now.
But at times Bush says things that are so achingly wrong and/or destructive that it seems a mistake not to respond. After all, he is still the head of state for a good long time to come. He does matter.
Two examples from today:
Speaking on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, the president made sure not to miss an opportunity to engage in some nasty partisan cheerleading. How statesmanlike…:
When I became governor of Texas in 1995, I recruited [Al Gonzales] from one of Texas’ prestigious law firms to be my general counsel. He went on to become Texas’ 100th secretary of state and to serve on our state’s supreme court.
In the long course of our work together this trusted adviser became a close friend.
These various positions have required sacrifice from Al, his wife Becky, their sons Jared, Graham and Gabriel. And I thank them for their service to the country.
After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position and I accept his decision.
It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeding [sic] from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
Yeah, right. So why did any number of Republicans in Congress join Democrats in calling for his resignation, Mr. President? Oh, that’s right. Not taking any questions.
Just a couple of hours later, Bush was in New Mexico stumping for Sen. Pete Domenici. Bush again, speaking about Iraq:
It’s in our interests that we help the Iraqi people succeed. Success in Iraq will be a major blow to the extremists and radicals who would like to attack America again. And that’s why the United States will continue to support Iraq’s leaders and all the Iraqi people in their efforts to overcome the forces of terror that seek to overthrow a nascent democracy.
Yes, it is in our interest to help Iraq succeed. Stated another way, we have a moral obligation to help a people who are suffering horribly to find peace and to rebuild. So let’s talk about what it would really take to get those peace talks underway, Mr. President. How about a presidential envoy for Iraq? How about agreeing to put an end to our offensives in return for a cease fire among the sects? How about negotiating a timetable for withdrawal? “No, no, no,” says Bush. That’s not what we’re here to talk about!
And then the inevitable segue to terrorism. Ok, Mr. President, let’s imagine the most optimistic of all scenarios: the violence in Iraq vanishes, leaving a virtually utopian, democratic Iraq. In such a case the Iraqis would certainly be better off, but how would that be a major blow to terrorists? Al Qaeda would undoubtedly still see it as their solemn duty to punish America for unjustly invading Iraq. The logic of revenge as justice is very powerful, and unfortunately, Al Qaeda would probably find a good deal of sympathy for such sentiments. Beyond the issue of the Iraq war, Bush continues to ignore many of the biggest Mideast issues, like US ties to Saudi Arabia or the US alliance with Israel, which are certainly still the foremost Al Qaeda grievances. Al Qaeda is accustomed to standing in opposition to most Middle East governments, denouncing regimes who’ve made nice with America and Israel, like Egypt and Jordan, or who have allowed America to set up military bases in their territories, like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. Al Qaeda would certainly denounce Iraq as another American imperial creation.
Al Qaeda’s not trying to win an election, Mr. President. They’re just looking for enough malcontents to keep the fire going. And they might well begin to find them in Iraq, even in a future Iraq that is fabulously successful. The anger among Iraqis because of this war could take generations to subside. Groups like Al Qaeda will not fade away until standards of living rise significantly throughout the Middle East, and until there is finally a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. These facts are beyond obvious, except to our president, who has devoted most of his presidency to devising new fringe interpretations of history and politics.
Democratic Congressional leaders and presidential candidates should remain focused by and large on the president. His bully pulpit vastly overshadows any of his executive branch cronies or any of the Republican Congressional leaders. Responding in kind to Bush’s nearly daily exhortations, not merely with criticism, but ideas, is the best way for Democratic leaders to explain clearly how they would do better.
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