Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Leader we need is the Leader we've got

President Bush, the leader we would never reelect, is the leader we need, and thankfully, the leader we’ve got.

Rich Lowry has the details.

Selected excerpts:
Bush is as confident and upbeat as ever. Even once-friendly commentators like the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan wish he'd show some strain and worry as the war drags into its fifth year. But Bush must have confidence and optimism written into his DNA. As leaks, GOP defections and plummeting approval ratings swirl all around him, he remains resolute: The Iraq war must, and can, be won.

He curtly rejects the suggestion that he will be forced by troop constraints to pull back the surge come next spring, no matter what. "I'm sure that in the bowels of the Pentagon, people are looking at troop rotations and troop movements," he says. "That is not the primary objective of our commander on the ground -- next question."

Nor will Bush allow the political environment to constrain his policy. He cites his decision to go forward with the surge in January, even though the "outcry was quite significant." He knew what people were thinking: "How can he possibly do this? Didn't he see, didn't he hear?"

What he saw was a war effort that was stumbling, so he removed his top generals and brought in Gen. Petraeus and his surge plan. His confidence in Petraeus is total: "My job ... is to say to David Petraeus, 'I trust your judgment, I trusted you going in and I trust you now.'" He calls Petraeus "the most credible person in the fight at this moment."

Bush says that one of his most important audiences is not just the American public, but the enemy, who "thinks we're weak." He says "these are sophisticated people and they listen to the debate." They doubt "that we're going to be tough enough. I really believe that the additional forces into Iraq surprised them -- a lot."

In trying to game out the future U.S. policy in Iraq, there is an intense focus on the periphery -- what is Defense Secretary Robert Gates thinking, what's the Lugar-Warner plan? But what's still most important is the center of this storm, where President Bush sits, apparently in no mood whatsoever to budge.


Rusty said...

Noonan is complaining because Dubya doesn't exhibit signs of strain or stress. Yet the comparisons are not proper (imo). Lincoln was President during the Civil War - a war which literally decimated our country. FDR was President during a war which, while not as bloody (on a per capita basis) as the Civil War, it had the potential to end the U.S. Johnson was President during tumultuous times and for a war that was, in reality, unnecessary (i.e., what real threat to the U.S. was North Vietnam?). Some may argue that Iraq was no threat, but the difference here is that the enemy, and his tactics, go far beyond Iraq.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rusty,

Most good writers are very good at contrasting and comparing. Peggy Noonan focused on the aspects of wars that were similar and the aspects of the Presidents that ware different. You make a good point that all four wars were different, with the Civil War and WWII both being much more deadly than the war in Iraq.

I don’t agree with Noonan’s criticism. In my opinion, a leader does not change his or her demeanor based on the outcome of events anymore than a golfer should change demeanor based on the outcome of a single shot or a single hole. A leader needs to be resolute, positive, determined, and if possible, cheerful, regardless of results.

President Bush, and his enduring demeanor, is the perfect leader during a time in history when the American public has lost heart. Peggy Noonan sounds like she always wants to be on the winning team or she wants her leader to jump on his sword. I am comfortable being on the losing side when I am on the right side. I do wish President Bush was more successful as President, but I am more concerned that he maintains the right position.

imsmall said...


Riding the warm air rising, so
He hardly moves his wings
But soars majestic o´er us, though
We be paupers or kings.

He glides, he seems to hover, for
How long, upon the swell
Maintains suspended stillness o´er
The scene--is hard to tell.

The occupant of this or that
High office, occupied--
Preoccupied--with business at
His desk knows no such glide.

Though he be head of state or have
No pressing need or want,
Yet e´en a ruler is a slave,
This current occupant:

A slave to habits of the mind,
No better, maybe worse
Than such with nature intertwined--
And yet he never soars.

The rodent in the field has little
Perhaps; but man is brittle
Dwelling within his tension.

He contemplates the progress of
The war without a thought
To eagles in the sky above
Or rodents talon-caught.

He has not the serenity--
Engaged in guilty cause--
Of nature, as conception free,
In breaking human laws.