Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Speech

I just finished listening to President Bush’s speech, and I think that it was quite powerful. The beginning was a laundry list of domestic policy. This needed to be done, but was quite frankly less important than what came after it. As much as the Democratic strategists continue to talk about medicare and social security--issues about which they traditionally have an electoral edge--those are back burner issues this year. This is a war-time election. The Democrats know this, which is why they nominated Kerry--who despite his weaknesses is the strongest candidate they could find on national security. And so, the second half of the President’s speech was a soliloquy by a Commander in Chief describing his vision for foreign policy.

And the President’s vision is bold. Here is a taste:

Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate. They know that men and women with hope, and purpose, and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent. The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear -- and they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.

I believe in the transformational power of liberty: The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror. Reformers, and political prisoners, and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom advances -- heart by heart, and nation by nation -- America will be more secure and the world more peaceful.

But the most moving part of the speech came in the last few minutes, as Bush described meeting with the families of the fallen:

These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I have tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September 11th -- people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I would know how much was taken from them. I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I’ve held the children of the fallen, who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.

And I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.

As he said these words, he visibly choked back the tears, and many viewers undoubtedly did the same.

The speech did exactly what it needed to do: it showed the President as a resolute Commander in Chief at a time when security is the election issue. Its one failing was that the less interesting policy details may have caused viewers to tune out before Bush got to the more interesting and important foreign policy section of the speech. For those who missed it, however, the latter lines will inevitably be replayed and quoted. Now that the speech is done, all that is left is confirmation of the post-Convention bounce.

Discussions - 14 Comments

RE "This is a war-time election. The Democrats know this, which is why they nominated Kerry--who despite his weaknesses is the strongest candidate they could find on national security."

I must respectfully disagree. The most trustworthy, clear-headed Democratic candidate on defense and foreign policy was Sen. Joe Lieberman.

For evidence, see his speech "Iraq’s Future and the War on Terrorism" at

Predictably, he was treated poorly by Democratic voters during the primaries and withdrew from the race. So now we have the Flipper from the Mekong, circling the Ship of State like a larger version of the killer rabbit that besieged Jimmy Carter’s dinghy.

Axel: You are correct. I had conversations during the primaries in which I said that Lieberman is the only reasonable Democrat on national security. What my post should have said is that they selected someone who gave the appearance of national security bona fides or gravitas, but who nonetheless embraced Democratic pusillanimity.

Axel & Robert: You are both flawed in that you think national security = war in iraq. The best Democratic candidate for national security would have been Howard Dean. This war is weakening our military, damaging our credibililty, and creating new enemies (increased world-wide terrorism this year).

Does anyone have the text of Bush’s speaches four years ago when he talked about a more humble foreign policy? Talk about flip-flopping!!

He fooled me and I am embarrassed, but I will be ashamed for our country when he wins in November.

Foreign policies just may have been brought about by September 11, 2001, which lifted the veil from everyone’s eyes about post-Cold War illusions and fantasies. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of September 11th, but Muslim terrorists used planes to bring down the World Trade Center towers and hit the Pentagon causing the death of 3,000 Americans. They tried to hi-jack a plane to hit D.C. again but courageous Americans brought the plane down first. These events probably had something to do with Bush’s change in foreign policy.

You know Tony, you might be on to something...

Just a few weeks ago Howard Dean in his column advocated U.S. intervention in the Sudan. How, pray tell, would that strengthen American national security?

What would it take for all of you to hijack a plane and kill 3,000 people, including yourselves?

A "more humble foreign policy" would have asked this question.

A "more humble foreign policy" would not have attacked Iraq in the middle of a debate on such an attack.

A "more humble foreign policy" would not adopt a with us or against us attitude.

A "more humble foreign policy" would not have labeled the UN as illegitimate.

A "more humble foreign policy" would not have threatened Columbia into supporting this war.

Howard Dean is wrong if he suggested that we intervene in Sudan, but he has been right since the beginning that this war in Iraq is wrong.

But if the UN is illegitimate, shouldn’t we treat it as such? Please name some wars it has effectively stopped. It is worthless to its purposes. Also, since when, according to our Founding principles and national interest, are we going to allow a supranational organization to decide our foreign policy and national interest? The Republicans voted down the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, because its Article X did the same thing.

Actually, I don’t care what it took the terrorists to do such a thing, only that it is our job to eradicate terrorists from the face of the earth so that they don’t attack the U.S.! And, it wouldn’t take me anything to do it myself because I do not engage in mass killing of innocent civilians because I respect natural rights. Would a humble foreign policy, or just a psycho, ask this question?

A more humble foreign policy?

I would suspect that you do not support Isreal, or the US support of Isreal.

When all is said and done, they do not necessarily hate us for our support of Isreal. The Christian Science Monitor produced a very interesting article

An interesting excerpt:

"From one end of the region to the other, the perception is that Israel can get away with murder - literally - and that Washington will turn a blind eye. Clearly, the US and Israel have compelling reasons for their actions. But little that US diplomats have done in recent years to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians has persuaded Arabs that the US is a fair-minded and equitable judge of Middle Eastern affairs.

Over the past year, Arab TV stations have broadcast countless pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian youths, Israeli tanks plowing into Palestinian homes, Israeli helicopters rocketing Palestinian streets. And they know that the US sends more than $3 billion a year in military and economic aid to Israel.

"You see this every day, and what do you feel?" asks Rafiq Hariri, the portly prime minister of Lebanon, who is not an excitable man. "It hurts me a lot. But for hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, it drives them crazy. They feel humiliated."

I have and will always state that the day the US stops supporting Isreal is the day the fall of America will begin. Which is why we need a president who supports Isreal.

I thought the link attached

Why do they hate us?

Perhaps a more humble policy, like that of Russia, would keep militant Islam from attacking innocents. Oh wait...

Dean is wrong if he suggested that we intervene in Sudan, but he has been right since the beginning that this war in Iraq is wrong.

I’m sympathetic--really, I am--to a principled non-interventionist argument which calls for scaling back America’s overseas commitments. Given the current international climate, I think it’s ultimately wrongheaded, but I do respect people who hold that position. The problem with guys like Howard Dean and most of the rest of the Democrats, however, is that this isn’t their real argument. They had no problem with Bill Clinton’s halfhearted efforts against Iraq, and they raised no complain against his feeble attempts at "nation-building" in places like the Balkans, Somalia and Haiti. As I’ve said here many times before, this is all simple partisanship.

Flipper In Chief

1. Bush Flip-Flops on Independent 9/11 Commission
Bush Flip: Initially Opposed to Independent 9/11 Commission
Bush opposed an independent inquiry into 9/11, arguing it would duplicate a probe conducted by Congress. In July 2002, his administration issued a "statement of policy" that read "...the Administration would oppose an amendment that would create a new commission to conduct a similar review [to Congress’s investigation]." [Statement of Administration Policy, Executive Office of the President, 7/24/02; LA Times, 11/28/02]

Bush Flop: Bush Relented and Appointed Independent Commission
President Bush finally agreed to support an independent investigation into the 9/11 attacks after "the congressional committees unearthed more and more examples of intelligence lapses, the administration reversed its stance." [Los Angeles Times, 11/28/02]

2. Bush Flip-Flops on Independent WMD Commission
Bush Flip: Refuses to Call for Independent Bipartisan Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction
"President Bush said on January 30, 2004, ’I want to know the facts’ about any intelligence failures concerning Saddam Hussein’s alleged cache of forbidden weapons but he declined to endorse calls for an independent investigation." [AP, 1/30/04]

Bush Flop: Bush Appoints WMD Investigation Commission
President Bush named a nine-member bipartisan commission to investigate U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities in February 2004. The AP noted, "Bush had initially opposed a commission, but agreed to do so as calls grew from Republican lawmakers as well as Democrats." The Los Angeles Times reported, "The White House opposed that panel initially, then backed down under pressure, and some say administration officials now regret doing so because the administration has become locked in a series of embarrassing battles with the Sept. 11 commission." The New York Times noted Bush "gave the panel until March 2005, well after the November elections, to submit its conclusions." [NY Times, 2/7/04; LA Times, 2/1/04; AP, 2/6/04]

3. Bush Flip-Flops on Time He’ll Spend With 9/11 Commission
Bush Flip: Would Meet For Only One Hour With 9/11 Commission
McClellan: Obviously, as part of this, the President will be meeting with the chairman and vice chairman at some point in the near future. We are still working on the exact time of that meeting. We have discussed with the commission what we believe is a reasonable period of time to provide the chairman and vice chairman with answers to all of their questions.
Q: Is that the one-hour time frame?
McClellan: That’s what I’m referring to. [WH Press Briefing, 3/9/04]

Bush Flop: White House Says No Time Limit on President’s Testimony
"President George W. Bush will privately answer all questions raised by the federal commission investigating the September 11 attacks, the White House said, suggesting that Bush might allow the interview to extend beyond the one-hour limit originally offered to the panel by the White House. ’He’s going to answer all the questions they want to raise,’ said the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, whose remarks suggested that the White House was softening its negotiating stance toward the bipartisan commission. ’Nobody’s watching the clock.’" [WH Press Briefing, 3/9/04; International Herald Tribune, 3/11/04]

4. Bush Flip-Flops On Calling For A U.N. Vote On Iraq War
Bush Flip: U.S. Will Seek U.N. Vote For War With Iraq
Bush: ...yes, we’ll call for a vote.
Question: No matter what?
Bush: No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It’s time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam. [Bush News Conference, 3/6/03, emphasis added]

Bush Flop: Bush Attacked Iraq Without U.N. Vote
Bush "failed to win explicit [security] council approval for the use of force" in Iraq. Two days before bombs began to fall in Iraq, the Bush administration withdrew its resolution from the UN Security Council that would have authorized military force. Bush abandoned his call for a vote after it became clear that the US could muster only four votes in support of force. [Washington Post, 3/21/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/18/03]

5. Bush Flip-Flops on Department Of Homeland Security
Bush Flip: Bush Thought Homeland Security Cabinet Position Was "Just Not Necessary"
In October 2001, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush opposed creating Office of Homeland Security position for Ridge. "[T]he president has suggested to members of Congress that they do not need to make this a statutory post, that he [Ridge] does not need Cabinet rank, for example, there does not need to be a Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security is because there is such overlap among the various agencies, because every agency of the government has security concerns," Fleischer said. [White House Press Briefing, 10/24/01]

Bush Flop: Bush Decides to Support Homeland Security
The New York Times reported, "Bush initially resisted Democratic proposals for a Cabinet-level agency. But once he endorsed it, the president pushed Congress for fast action as it debated such issues as whistle-blower protections, concerns over civil liberties and collective bargaining for department employees."

In remarks to Homeland Security Department employees, Bush claimed credit for supporting the Department: "In just 12 months, under the leadership of your faced the challenges standing up this new Department and you get a -- and a gold star for a job well done." [New York Times, 2/28/03; Bush Remarks at One-Year Anniversary of DHS, 3/2/04]

6. Bush Flip-Flops on Gay Marriage
Bush Flip: It’s Up to the States to Decide
In a 2000 presidential primary debate, candidate George W. Bush said gay marriage was a state’s issue, saying, "The state can do what they want to do. Don’t try to trap me in this state’s issue like you’re trying to get me into." [Presidential Primary Debate, 2/15/00]

Bush Flop: Bush Supports Constitutional Amendment That Restricts States’ Rights
Bush: "If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America. Decisive and democratic action is needed, because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country." [Bush, 2/24/04]

7. Bush Flip-Flops on Using Military For Nation Building
Bush Flip: Bush Promised Not to Use Military for Nation Building
In a campaign rally in Tennessee, then-Presidential candidate Bush criticized the Clinton administration for using the military in nation-building missions. Bush said, "I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation-building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place." [Governor George W. Bush, 11/6/00]

Bush Flop: President Used Military for Nation Building in Afghanistan and Iraq
After the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush met with soldiers stationed in Afghanistan at the White House and thanked them for their nation building efforts. A senior administration official said, "The administration, with its international partners, is doing something akin to nation-building." The plans for a post war Iraq also included nation building measures and, according to the Baltimore Sun, "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell confirmed...that Bush was considering, among other options, installing a U.S.-led occupation government if Hussein’s regime is removed." [Baltimore Sun, 10/19/02]

8. Bush Flip-Flops on Hybrid Automobiles
Bush Flip: Bush Mocked Gore’s Tax Credit for Hybrid Cars
"’How many of you own hybrid electric gasoline engine vehicles? If you look under there, you’ll see that’s one of the criteria necessary to receive tax relief. So when he talks about targeted tax relief that’s pretty darn targeted,’ Bush told the Arlington Heights rally, drawing laughs." [Chicago Sun-Times, 10/29/00]

Bush Flop: Bush Supported Investing in Hybrid Cars
In his State of the Union speech, Bush said, "Tonight I am proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. ... Join me in this important innovation, to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy." [White House, "President Delivers ’State of the Union,’" 1/28/03]

9. Bush Flip-Flops on Assault Weapons Ban
Bush Flip: Bush Supports Extending Assault Weapons Ban
Ashcroft: "It is my understanding that the president-elect of the United States has indicated his clear support for extending the assault weapons ban, and I will be pleased to move forward with that position." [Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee, 1/17/01]

Bush Flop: Bush Opposes Extension of Assault Weapons Ban
"The White House is opposing addition of gun show and assault weapons restrictions to a bill shielding firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits, prompting angry complaints from Democrats that President Bush is reneging on earlier support for the two proposals...In a statement [on February 24, 2004], the White House urged passage of the lawsuits measure without amendments that might delay its enactment. ’Any amendment that would delay enactment of the bill beyond this year is unacceptable,’ the statement said. Democrats interpreted this as an effort to undermine support for the gun-control measures. ’For the president to say he is for the assault weapons ban but then act against it is a flip-flop if there ever was one,’ said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of several sponsors of the assault weapons proposal in the Senate." [Washington Post, 2/26/04]

10. Bush Flip-Flops on Steel Tariffs
Bush Flip: Bush Imposes Steel Tariffs
"President Bush on [March 5, 2002] slapped punishing tariffs of 8% to 30% on several types of imported steel in an effort to help the ailing U.S. industry, drawing criticism from American allies and mixed reviews at home. ’An integral part of our commitment to free trade is our commitment to enforcing trade laws to make sure that America’s industries and workers compete on a level playing field,’ Bush said in a statement issued by the White House." [USA Today, 3/5/02]

Bush Flop: Bush Rescinds Steel Tariffs
"Facing a potential global trade war, President Bush on [December 4, 2003] lifted tariffs he imposed on foreign steel 21 months ago, declaring the U.S. steel industry healthy and ready to compete despite the industry’s claim that it needs more time to recover." [Chicago Tribune, 12/5/03]

Sorry about the length of the last post. I just thought it needed to be said. We bash Kerry for being a Flip Flopper yet Bush is no better himself.

Also let us not forget that 9/11 was this government’s biggest failure in decades and it happened on Bush’s watch. He could not protect us the first time how are we to believe that he can protect us in the future?

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