Jewish World Review Sept. 5, 2003 / 8 Elul, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Placating the carpers | There are contemporary news stories that some in public life apparently do not want to recognize. America is at war. We have already lost more of our countrymen at home than on the battlefield. I would imagine that in the average American's mind, Islamofascism and terrorism loom more menacingly than memories of the Soviet Union once did. Most Americans recognize that in this war we have no alternative but to fight. Yet seven of the fabled nine dwarves now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination are taking acerbic issue with the president.

Said Sen. John Pierre Kerry, the other day in his most intemperate declamation: "Overseas, George Bush has led and misled us on a course at odds with 200 years of our history," and he went on to complain that "he has squandered the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11, and he has lost the respect and the influence that we need to make our country safe." It is an unedifying spectacle, this parade of presidential candidates exploiting the normal anxieties that exist in time of war to discredit the president. Has the republic ever witnessed the like of it? As a matter of fact, we have.

Living as we do half a century from the anxious days of World War II, we forget that even in the height of battle, President Franklin Roosevelt suffered his fill of nags and faultfinders. There is, however, a difference between today's nags and those besetting FDR. His were mostly members of the America First Committee and other conspiratorially minded extremists. President Bush's are members of a mainstream political party seeking that party's nomination. In fact, of all the Democrats seeking the nomination, only Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Richard Gephardt are in the great tradition of Democratic internationalists defending American security.

Donate to JWR

It is a fact. The carpers campaigning for the Democratic nomination, by stridently disparaging the president's conduct of a war made inescapable by the attacks of Sept. 11, have their historical antecedents only in the carpers who disparaged FDR. There is, however, a difference between the two groups of carpers. The America Firsters existed on the fringes of 1940s politics. They were reactionaries. The Democratic candidates do not see themselves as operating from the fringes. The question is, are they, too, reactionaries. I think they are, and it will take Lieberman and Democrats like him a long time to rebuild their party.

After hearing Sen.r John Pierre's offensive diatribe, I took a break from the bitterness of today's unbearably small politicians and picked up Peter Robinson's "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life," a vivid account of the speechwriter's years in the Reagan White House. Robinson's recollections of the old cowboy remind us of how a great leader led in grim times. When Reagan became president, the economy was in dreadful condition -- worse by far than Sen. John Pierre's hallucinations of today's reviving economy. A military colossus faced us that could do more than hurt us -- which is the Islamofascists' only hope. The Soviet Union could destroy us.

Reagan reversed the course of history in both departments, economics and geopolitical. Robinson in sprightly anecdotes depicts Reagan as "the chief executive so utterly relaxed and at peace that far from conveying any sense of the burdens of his office, he always made your own burdens feel lighter." Robinson frequently reminds us of the old cowboy's great lines and of his personal charm.

There are in Robinson's book, also, scenes of Reagan's unscotchable resolve. A favorite of mine occurs during the height of Reagan's struggle to cut taxes. He meets with his distinguished Economic Policy Advisory Board. It includes economists of international distinction such as Milton Friedman, Arthur Laffer and the venerable Arthur Burns. Burns, then Reagan's ambassador to West Germany, is part of a cabal in and out of the government prevailing on Reagan to reverse himself on tax cuts.

During this meeting, he asks the president to cut a deal with the anti-tax-cut pols. Robinson quotes Reagan as responding: "You know, Arthur, I can't tell you how much I enjoy these Advisory Board meetings. But you know I made a promise when I ran for office that I wouldn't raise taxes, and I intend to do all I can do to keep it. So every minute you spend in these meetings talking about a tax increase is a minute I don't get the pleasure of discussing something I might actually do."

Then the most genial American president since Ike leaned over the table and said, to his formidable confrere: "Never mention a tax increase in my presence again. Is that clear?"

Presidents are often faced with carpers even inside the White House, but the great presidents prevail. In time, Sen. John Pierre will find that out.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

08/29/03: A melange of one-issue enthusiasts will win?
08/07/03: Angry partisans
07/31/03: Why no ‘holy cities ’ in America?
07/25/03: They underestimate not only the president, but the American people
07/18/03: The irascible, bigoted Harry Truman was a product of his times
07/11/03: A grand affair of hot colors and surprisingly sedate audience participation
07/04/03: In search of anti-Americanism and the perfect bullfight
06/26/03: Calling on London
06/20/03: Too upsetting for the evening news?
06/12/03: Rain(es)ing Clintoon myths
06/05/03: Hillary-ous is pathetic
05/29/03: Shakedown
05/22/03: End of the last great persecution of the 20th century?
05/15/03 :‘Grey’ turns to grim at Times
05/08/03: The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
05/01/03: Dinning with Tom Wolfe: More lessons in nusual aspects of American life, hitherto ignored
04/28/03: Ambuscade at scholarly frontier
04/21/03: Stars in search of a galaxy
04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The G-dphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate