President Bush's speech on our progress in Iraq provides a long-overdue shot in the arm to the president's credibility, our mission in Iraq and his patriotic defenders, who have been tirelessly refuting his detractors, their misinformation, demagoguery and lies with precious little help from the White House.
Up until a few weeks ago, the White House had remained largely silent in the face of the relentless assaults against it, more resembling a punching bag than a confident director of a just war against global Islamofascist terrorists.
The administration, it could be argued, has had a blind spot, even a learning disability, concerning the opposition party's ill will and ruthlessness. When accused of lying about WMD, for example, President Bush barely registered indignation. When Scooter Libby was indicted for misleading the FBI and grand jury, but specifically not for violating either underlying criminal statute for the alleged "outing" of the non-covert Valerie Plame, he ordered ethics training for White House staff rather than proclaiming vindication.
By contrast, the Democrats twisted Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's failure to indict on the underlying crimes as proof that Libby, Cheney and Rove had intentionally "outed" Plame to exact revenge on her husband, Joe Wilson, for attempting to undermine the president's case on Iraqi WMD. It is simply hard to overestimate the opposition's capacity for political chicanery.
The president apparently believed that as long as he was doing the right thing, Democrat leaders would come around, at least on the war for the survival of Western civilization. But his reliance on their presumed good faith was woefully misplaced, and it has cost him.
Better late than never, President Bush finally realized he had to strike back. Almost daily for the last few weeks, high-ranking administration officials, such as Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have joined him in setting the record straight. They've forcefully countered the fraudulent allegations that he lied about WMD and that the administration systematically tortures terrorist detainees.
But the president's Naval Academy speech raised his counterattack to a new level. Without belaboring the tired WMD and torture claims, he delivered, essentially, a state of the union address on the War on Terror, Iraq Theater. He refuted the disinformation and clarified the state of our military operations and the much-debated readiness of the Iraqi forces.
He reiterated our objectives and strategy to achieve them, which, by the way, have been consistent since we began this phase of the war: the transition to Iraqi constitutional self-rule. While we've had to adjust our tactics daily in this unconventional, asymmetrical war, we have stayed true to our overall strategy.
Washington Democrats appear visibly nervous about the strength and substance of the president's case, and probably wish they hadn't pushed him so far that he had to come out and answer their bogus charges one by one.
At the end of the day, the Democrats are exposed as having no substantive alternative ideas to supplement their brutal assaults against this wartime president. They've even gone so far as to admit, on occasion, that they don't have a plan, much less a superior one, because, in the damning words of Democrat Party leader Howard Dean, it is not their responsibility to have a plan. You just can't make this stuff up.
The Democrats have done a masterful job, with unflagging assistance from the mainstream media, of undermining the people's trust in the president by calling him a liar every day for the last 10 months and more. But the best-kept secret is that in the meantime, they've done nothing to bolster their own image for trustworthiness or as capable wartime leaders.
That they have no solutions for Iraq and the War on Terror was brought into sharp relief when House Republicans called their bluff and forced them to put up or shut up on a withdrawal-timetable resolution. Only three hapless Democrats had the courage to stand by their party's reckless rhetoric.
The best thing about the president's speech is that it moves the debate forward into the realm of reality. It forces the Democrats to quit squawking about moot issues, such as whether President Bush lied about WMD. They can choose to revisit those fraudulent claims and lose another election over them if they want, but for now, they better realize we're in this war and they must get on board, offer reasonable alternatives, or get out of the way.
Between now and 2006 it will be interesting to see how they scramble and sputter, searching in vain for a coherent war policy. Pay particular attention to the ever-tortured positions John Kerry will adopt and the delightfully painful contortions and fence-straddling Hillary will inevitably engage in between now and 2008.
And all this time you thought Republicans were the ones imploding.