Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Republican candidates and the Bush legacy

Jeffrey Bell surveys the wreckage of what appears--in the short term, at least--to be a failed Bush presidency. The lengthy survey defies easy summmary, but Bell reminds us of the continuities between Bush and Reagan and of the ways in which, in his view, Bush wasn’t stubborn or persistent enough. Whatever the long-term judgment will be, Republicans in 2008 have to contend with the here and now.

Here’s a chunk of his conclusion:

The temptation for Republicans trying to climb out of the wreckage of the Bush war presidency in 2008 will be to focus too intensely on Petraeus and his success in Iraq. It is true that the success of the surge is a precondition for GOP recovery in 2008; after being the greatest embarrassment, Iraq has emerged as the safest Republican talking point in all of foreign policy. But without a refocus of voters’ attention on the larger global war against jihadism, the Democratic narrative will continue to have life: If invading Iraq was a mistake, even our improved prospects there can be seen as a lucky sideshow to overall Republican blundering.


It is thus essential for McCain and other Republican candidates to point out the violent activities of jihadists all over the world. If these activities are real, and they are, voters can be not so much convinced as reminded that the American response to 9/11 was right.

Read the whole thing.

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