http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The more I see of George W. Bush, and the more I hear from his detractors, the more he reminds me of Harry S Truman.
Like Truman, Bush came to the White House greatly under-estimated, even by those who voted for him. I was one of them. People made fun of his speechmaking ability, his leadership potential, even his intelligence. Leaders in his own party compared him unfavorably to his Democratic predecessor.
Truman got to be president mainly because the smarter Democrats didn't want Henry Wallace to be the ailing FDR's vice-president a second time. Of course, Truman's enemies couldn't make that same claim in 1948, when he pulled off the biggest upset in presidential history, knocking off Thomas Dewey.
For his part, we were told, Bush got the job because the electorate in Florida didn't know how to cast their ballots, and because the U.S. Supreme Court was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. (Funny how the Democrats never point out that Al Gore is one of the few presidential candidates who have failed to carry his home state. If Tennessee had voted for its least favorite son, it wouldn't have mattered what happened in Florida!)
The Democrats, still licking their wounds from 2000, haven't yet gotten around to explaining how this political nonentity managed to lead his party to victory in the 2002 elections without any help from Justice Rehnquist and his judicial cohorts.
What Bush and Truman have in common, besides their less than dazzling oratorical skills, are honesty, principles and a respect for the Office. Truman had a sign on his desk stating that The Buck Stops Here. Bush might as well have one of his own.
Bush speaks of an Axis of Evil, and he names names. For his part, Truman waged the Cold War because he recognized that evil exists in the world, and you either combat it or you become its accessory. And for men of honor, the latter course is never an option.
In Truman's day, the appeasers claimed that the Soviet Union was not a danger to America or the world. They claimed that Joseph Stalin was, at worst, a tinhorn dictator ruling a backward nation; at best, a heroic leader who had helped defeat the Nazis. When he gobbled up all of Eastern Europe, enslaving hundreds of millions of people, they defended him. Stalin needed a buffer; after all, mother Russia had been invaded by Napoleon and Hitler. They pointed out that Germany had slaughtered millions of Russians, while ignoring the brutal fact that for a quarter of a century, Stalin had done the exact same thing with never a peep heard from the American left.
Now the children and grandchildren of these people cast Bush, not Saddam Hussein, in the role of villain. It doesn't matter to them that Iraq has invaded Iran and Kuwait and launched missiles at Israel, just as it doesn't faze them that Hussein gassed Kurds by the tens of thousands, and has amassed weapons of mass destruction. These people are so estranged from truth and logic that they will, on the one hand, emphatically insist that Hussein possesses no such weaponry, and then wring their hands in fear that he will unleash these non-existent chemicals if we invade Iraq.
These four-flushers will praise the likes of France and Russia as representing the conscience of mankind, while accusing Bush of being beholden to the oil interests -- all the while ignoring the fact that it's France and Russia that have billion dollar oil deals with Hussein. Obviously, if Bush were out to gain control of Arab oil, he would go to war against such pushovers as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If we merely wanted Iraqi oil, we'd buy it, the same way we get the stuff from Mexico, Venezuela and the rest of the Middle East. Hussein would be only too happy to sell it to us. No, if it were really about oil, the way the pinheads insist it is in their childish chants and slogans, would George Bush so openly side with Israel, the one country in that part of the world that is bereft of oil?
Because Bush's detractors lack principles themselves, they can never acknowledge the virtue in others. Because they despise America, they regard patriotism as villainy. Because they indulge in double-talk, they abhor plain-speaking. They claim that North Korea has become suddenly hostile and dangerous because Bush dared to call them evil, disregarding the fact that he called them evil because they had broken their nuclear treaty within a few months of brokering the agreement with the previous administration.
The hypocrisy of the left is boundless. They demanded that Bush get congressional backing before invading Iraq. He did. They then demanded he take the matter up with the Security Council. He did. Then they demanded that he do it all over again. In the meantime, they insist that he not rush to war. If this is their idea of rushing, one has to wonder what they regard as slow and steady.
The left insists that U.N. inspectors be given more time to play hide-and-seek with Hussein. The inspectors were never supposed to find anything; their sole mission was to confirm that Hussein had disposed of his gases and chemical plague agents. Obviously he never did, so confirmation was out of the question. But, then, why would he? Why should he? All he had to do to get so-called world opinion behind him was claim that he only kicked the original arms inspectors out of Iraq because they were spying. Boys and girls, that is what inspectors do.
No matter how patient Bush is, no matter how much he kowtows to the U.N., it's not enough for these people. But you notice they never said a discouraging word when Clinton dropped bombs in Serbia, Somalia and the Sudan. There was no outcry that he was being imperialistic, that he was trying to take over the world. Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon didn't demand that he go hat-in-hand to the United Nations. I don't recall liberals moaning about collateral damage, just as I don't recall any of these aging hippies offering themselves up as human shields.
George W. Bush's being in the White House embarrasses these folks, but Bill Clinton, the man who turned the Oval Office into the Oral Office, him they'd enshrine on Mount Rushmore.
To show you how foolish and out of sync with the American people those on the left truly are, you have merely to consider that they call Bush a Texas cowboy, just as they used to call Truman a Missouri haberdasher -- and that's their idea of an insult!
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JWR contributor Burt Prelutsky is a veteran TV writer whose credits include, among others, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show and Diagnosis Murder. Comment by clicking here. Visit his website by clicking here.
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