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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “When Bush speaks, people listen”

    Last week, President Bush held a press conference to address the future of the war in Iraq and the progress that has been made so far.

    He affirmed his commitment to success in the war and restated that the job to be done there must be completed, but that final withdrawal from Iraq would likely not take place before he leaves office in 2008.

    The president went into the conference bearing the worst approval ratings since he took office, but preliminary indications are that people have responded to the president’s message and the next set of poll numbers will likely show his job approval rating on the rise.

    This data affirms what Republican strategists have known all along, and what opponents of the president have still not managed to wrap their heads around: When the president speaks to the people, the people respond positively.

    Given the amount of criticism – meritorious and otherwise – that the president’s administration receives on a daily basis, he should spend more time addressing the claims of his critics in order to provide the strong presidential leadership needed in times of war.

    The people don’t want a president who spends all his time on the defensive, but in a time when we are so divided as a nation, the president would do well to be up front with the American people and to affirm his commitment to achieving success in spite of difficulty.

    The most memorable moment from the press conference came when Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas denounced the president’s expressed reasons for going to war with Iraq as lies and posed the question, “”Why did you really want to go to war?””

    This question followed the standard model the left has used to engage the president since well before he won a second term: Call him a liar, ask a question, denounce the answer as a lie and repeat.

    This strategy didn’t succeed in electing John Kerry, and over the course of the Bush presidency, it has only succeeded in lowering approval ratings until the president addresses his critics and explains himself to the people.

    The reason for this failure is that the strategy is inherently flawed. Despite the best efforts of commentators from various media outlets, the majority of people just refuse to believe that the president knowingly lied in order to take the country to war or that a war in Iraq was a goal of the administration from the beginning.

    Most of them tend to believe the president when he says that Sept. 11 changed his view on national security because they can’t deny that it changed their own.

    The media commentators who continue to attack the president’s character don’t quite seem to get this, however, and in embracing their own exaggerated sense of self-importance, they can’t understand why more people just don’t see it their way.

    A majority of Americans may have a negative impression of the Bush administration as a whole, but the vast majority of Americans cannot be convinced that the president is a liar who deliberately endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers.

    As is stands now, many of the president’s opponents have weakened the legitimacy of their own position with their childish name-calling strategy and left the people with a choice between a president many see as incompetent and an opposition they see as doing little more than bitterly hurling insults.

    Opposition to the establishment is an important part of democracy, and there are many intelligent individuals who expect, and have a right to expect, answers from their president about American foreign policy.

    But when faced with charges of being a liar and a criminal, it’s up to the president on occasion to take the same course of action that he did with Helen Thomas last week by calling her on it.

    President Bush spoke to Thomas, and more importantly to the American people, by stating in no uncertain terms that allegations from the left that he desired war from the onset are simply untrue, and that he took the nation to war because he believed it was necessary to protect our country.

    It’s a message that people believe when they hear it, and a message we need to hear from our president more often.

    Michael Huston in a sophomore majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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