Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Too little too late?

Bush Strengthens Defense of Iraq Policy in Latest Speech

NAMPA, Idaho, Aug. 24 - President Bush told thousands of National Guard members and their families today that an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and the broader Middle East would only embolden terrorists and make the United States and its allies more vulnerable to attack.

Defending his administration's military stance for the third day in a row, he presented another tough, if implicit, rebuttal to war critics like Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier slain in Iraq who has demanded to see the president in a monthlong protest outside his Texas ranch. Mr. Bush said that "as long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terror."

The president said that withdrawing troops now from Iraq and the Middle East, "as some have called for," would "only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations." Ms. Sheehan and her supporters have called only for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, not the Middle East generally.

Is it too little too late? Given the momentum in the media, and the low threshold for success that the terrorists have, I'm not optimistic about turning public opinion around. It is truly mind boggling that allegedly serious people are actually talking about withdrawal in the middle of the fight. We couldn't possibly do anything worse.

Our current situation is infuriating, especially when put in perspective with what we have accomplished and where we are today in Iraq. Sure, the MSM has to take some blame for their agenda driven, relentlessly slanted and negative coverage. But President Bush deserves the lion's share of blame for letting it get to this point. He has the ability to go over their heads and communicate directly with the peeps, but he hasn't done it forcefully, or often enough.

So here we are today with public support crumbling while the situation on the ground is far better than people realize. When I hear talk of withdrawal, one has to wonder if people truly understand the consequences of success?

David Frum has some good advice,
...alternatively, the president could have skipped the good news and delivered a blood, sweat, toils, and tears speech: Yes things are hard, harder in fact than expected, but the stakes remain enormous - and here is why we must win, and why I am determined to fight this thing through to victory. That would be powerful too.

Michael Barone read Frum's piece,

This is a direct slap not only at the president, but also at his speechwriters, and from a former colleague who served in the speechwriting office in 2001 and 2002. Frum argues that Bush makes the same case over and over again, and does not flesh it out with arresting details and enlightening narrative.

Then he educates on FDR's fireside chats. Awesome stuff.

Yes, Bush has done a terrible job of communicating with the public about the war. People want to support it but it is difficult when all they hear is negative. What happened to the guy with the bullhorn? And it is not just the executive branch that is losing the information war. Michael Yon tells of the military's difficulty communicating their success.

Given all of these challenges, will the American public stay the course?