September 03, 2004
Bush Stands His Ground
President Bush gave 1/2 a good speech. The first part was his call for more government programs and making his tax cuts permanent. There was stuff on rural health care, K-12 education, Pell grants, health savings accounts, and personal savings accounts under Social Security. Once again Bush took a page from Bill Clinton. Just like in 1996, the incumbent President patched together a lot of little items to make his domestic policy quilt. We conservative Bush backers realize again that "compassionate conservatism" isn't small government conservatism, and it won't come cheap.
But we live in dangerous times. 09.11.01 brought the Islamist War home to the United States. President Bush addressed this in the second half of his speech, and this is where he shined. He restated his claim that given what we knew about Saddam's past and the evil intentions of al Qaeda deterence and crumbling sanctions were no way to deal with Iraq. He also restated his Wilsonian/Neo-conservative claim that a free Middle East was the best path to a lasting peace. The President never said the Iraq War and post-war would be easy. He called ordering the invasion a most difficult decision, but one he stands behind.
The U.S. is safer without Saddam thumbing his nose at the world, sponsoring terrorism, and waiting out sanctions so he could regain dominance in the region. The U.S. is safer now that al Qaeda is on the run and taking on allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's what the President argued tonight. Love him or hate him, you know where he stands, and you know he's willing to fight to keep the U.S. free.
Bush effectively used John Kerry's own words against him--Kerry Edwards calls this a "personal attack." He brought up the "I voted for it before I voted against it" line when talking about adequately funding our troops at war. He also hammered Kerry for claiming he was the one promoting conservative values. Bush ruthlessly employed Kerry's claim that Hollywood was the heart and soul of America. He also used Kerry's harsh words of Reagan against him.
Near the end of his speech, the President let America see some of the burden that's been place on him. (He chose to accept this when he took the oath of office so don't feel sorry for him.) Tears welled up in his eyes when he talked about meeting with Sep. 11 victims' families, soldiers' families, and injured soldiers. You saw some of the great weight that falls upon all men who send others into battle. Even in our Age of Oprah the display felt sincere and moving.
Soon after the RNC ended, Kerry Edwards started their late-night pep rally in Ohio. John Edwards decried the "personal attacks" on Kerry a million times. From listening to Edwards you'd think the GOP accused Kerry of committing war crimes in Vietnam. Then Kerry went after Dick Cheney for asking for and receiving deferments from the Vietnam War. Such language is quite the departure from what he said about Bill Clinton's problems with the draft.
Now, for some other reaction: