Jewish World Review April 11, 2004 /21 Nissan, 5764

Bill O'Reilly

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Running against himself | At this point, President Bush is actually running against himself. With the situation in Iraq tenuous, Mr. Bush finds himself in a race against time to straighten things out in the land of Saddam. Even though the U.S. economy is improving, chaos on an overseas battlefield is emerging as the endgame issue in the upcoming election.

Wisely, John Kerry has said little about the Iraq fighting. You don't criticize the commander-in-chief in the middle of a firefight. That could be construed as putting U.S. forces in jeopardy and undermining morale. Kerry would be smart to keep it zipped.

Also, the senator can read the polls. President Bush is sinking into the morass that Iraq is threatening to become. If things are this messed up over there next October, Kerry won't have to say a word. He can wave at the voters, and they'll wave him right in.

So George W. Bush has to stabilize things in Iraq over the next few months, or he goes the way of Lyndon Johnson. Thus, Bush is really running against himself. Can the commander get things under control in a land rife with fanatics and terrorists?

Bush should expect no help from the elite media. It has been grossly unfair to him on the economic front and will spin negative on Iraq as well. There is no question that Bush has made policy mistakes, but economic growth in this country is jumping and job creation is rising. However, whenever the economic picture is discussed by the elites, there's always the "but factor." But Harvey in Ohio lost his job to Ramal in Calcutta. What about that?

I think Bush has done a good job on the economy, especially since we are smack in the middle of World War III. The terrorist attack on 9/11 set back any dramatic economic recovery for years. Let's be honest about that.

By November, most Americans will have a Republican-driven picture of the economy. The Bush people have nearly $200 million to buy ads trumpeting their economic achievements. Talk about an uptick in spending!

But Iraq is quite something else. Americans are not going to go for another Vietnam. A war of attrition is not going to cut it, especially since the removal of Saddam was sold as a quick, surgical action with overjoyed Iraqis at the end of the rainbow. That obviously has not happened.

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So the race is on to stabilize Iraq and fast. The terrorists know Mr. Bush is up for reelection and, interestingly, it seems like they want W out. An increase in terrorist activity would signify that, wouldn't it?

The president does have a fighting chance, however. Osama bin Laden could be caught, and the Iraqi fanatics could be beaten to their knees. If those things happen, Bush wins. But if the terrorists remain the aggressors, say hello to First Lady Teresa Heinz Kerry.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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© 2004 Creators Syndicate