As General Douglas MacArthur once observed, “there is no substitute for victory.” And, as President Bush has finally discovered, not even a new tone substitutes. For 5 years now, President George W. Bush has done his best to avoid responding to Democratic slanders, apparently hoping that, by setting a good example himself, Democrats might evolve some semblance of civility. But we can now longer wait for Democrats to rise up on two legs. Achieving victory in Iraq is too important. The consequences of failure are too severe. A peaceful and stable Iraq will contribute more to a tolerable future than will polite debates in Washington, D.C. Victory or defeat in Iraq is no longer a matter to be decided by force of arms, or superior training, or better soldiers. The outcome of the war on terror will pivot upon winning the rhetorical battle against Democrats who have hitched their political fortunes to bringing a humiliating defeat upon the United States.
Successfully undermining the U.S. in a war worked for the Democrats a generation ago and gave us Jimmy Carter. Democrats are looking to that glorious past as their template for the future.
For more than two years now, Bush has does his best to ignore those who have accused him of intentionally exaggerating the case for war. But finally, he has realized that the war of words must be won against an unscrupulous enemy at home before victory can be won over a vicious enemy on the battlefield. Fortunately, the Democrats have presented Bush with a target rich environment, because it is very easy to recall that almost all of his critics have taken precisely the opposite stand from what they occupy now.
We don’t need to speculate on Democratic intentions here. Their intentions were revealed on paper two years ago, when a memo
circulated by the staff of the minority ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee Jay Rockefeller laid out in detail how the Democrats intended to exploit pre-war intelligence issues for partisan advantage. While the memo spelled out the Democrats’ intention to spring their trap before the 2004 election, the tactics described are just those in operation today.
[W]e have an important role to play in revealing the misleading — if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives — of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, pre-emptive war.
"The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives."
Mind you, all this was before the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation had even begun. The Democrats had formed their conclusions around strategy, not testimony.
Since then, Democrats have ignored the investigation’s findings and have sung the “Bush lied” chorus. Fortunately for Bush, before they decided to sing in unison, each sang solo, and their words are a matter of public record.
For example, search Jay Rockefeller’s own website, you can find these words
, spoken on the Senate floor, October 10, 2002, as Rockefeller explained his vote for war against Iraq: “I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. It is in the nature of these weapons, and the way they are targeted against civilian populations, that documented capability and demonstrated intent may be the only warning we get. To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? We cannot!”
One may easily recall many other prominent critics’ words as well. Carl Levin
stated on Dec. 12, 2001, "The war on terrorism will not be finished as long as [Saddam] is in power," and, "There was plenty of evidence that Saddam had nuclear weapons, by the way. That is not in dispute. There is plenty of evidence of that." Hillary Clinton stated that Saddam "has also given aid and comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members." And John Kerry said
in his characteristically inarticulate prose soon after we attacked Afghanistan, that, "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein."
Shortly, the Democrats might well recall the Japanese WWII Admiral Yamamoto, General MacArthur’s opponent at the beginning of the war who, after executing the attack upon Pearl Harbor, is supposed to have worried aloud, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
George Bush may not be well practiced with words, but he doesn’t have to be. Democrats have provided him with all the words he needs – their own.