Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2005/ 1 Kislev, 5766

Wesley Pruden

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Driving Dems off the cliff | George W. Bush has had a good week. Just how good it turns out to be depends on how good he wants it to be.

He started the week on the border in the West, at last addressing the domestic subject most on the minds of everyone else. He talked semi-tough on immigration, promising, finally, to take seriously the bleeding border with Mexico. Then he lapsed into his familiar rhapsody about the amnesty that he won't call an amnesty.

But his speech to the Class of '06 at the U.S. Naval Academy about what must be done in Iraq was straight, plain and delivered with the bark on, no asterisks, no dodgy footnotes, no loopholes, and none of the selective emphasis that rendered his immigration speech an unexploded shell.

"We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory," he told the cheering Middies of the first class to graduate since the Islamist assault of September 11.

Strong stuff, and enough to send the San Francisco Democrats into full swoon with Jack Murtha, the Pennsylvania congressman who sent girly-man hearts aflutter a fortnight ago with his demand that President Bush cut and run. The first to flop onto the fainting couch with him was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic minority in the House.

"I'm endorsing what Mr. Murtha is saying," Miss Pelosi said, "which is that the status quo is not working and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer, our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable. I believe that a majority of [Democrats] supports Mr. Murtha."

After an autumn of Bush-bashing, you might think that all the Democrats would stand up and cheer the queen of the Nancy boys, who revel in every opportunity to join the campaign to take down the president. But the insanity of the San Francisco Democrats was too much for Miss Pelosi's embarrassed colleagues.

The first up was her top deputy, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the minority whip. "I believe that a precipitous withdrawal of American forces could lead to disaster," he said, "spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists and damaging our nation's security and credibility."

The Democratic whip's quick and forceful response to Miss Pelosi was the response that you would ordinarily expect to see aimed at a partisan foe, and it followed Sen. Joseph Lieberman's op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that Iraq "would go to chaos" if the Americans leave before victory is won, consigning to naught all the soldierly sacrifice.

The president's unapologetic remarks to the Middies was exactly what he ought to say — nay, what he ought to have been saying for months. The speech was one of the best of his presidency. But it won't be enough unless, like most good and effective medicine, it is repeated often. This president, who came to office promising to restore the spirit of Ronald Reagan, does not have the instinctive regard for the power of rhetoric to thrill, to inspire, to put willing masses on the march. Perhaps the wasted years at Harvard, where aspiring masters of business management learn to reduce everything to cold beans for the counting, blinded him to how emotion, not mathematical theory, is what moves men to great deeds.

Words without action, of course, are empty and foolish. Stonewall Jackson reminded his men that soldiers should make short speeches, "and when you unsheathe the sword throw away the scabbard." Just as small dreams have no power to inspire men, no soldier will follow the leader who sounds the call to battle with a sigh into an uncertain trumpet.

The Democrats, who all but destroyed themselves by leading the retreat from Vietnam, are determined again to play the single sour note in an orchestra composed only of uncertain trumpets. Jack Murtha, the decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War who knows better, told a civic club in his Pennsylvania district yesterday that the United States has to leave Iraq because its military is "broken, worn out," and "living hand to mouth." Rep. Charles Rangel sneers that rising re-enlistment rates are fueled by mercenaries who are only in the military for the money.

The San Francisco Democrats have recently said nice things about soldiers, but through gritted teeth. They're more experienced calling American soldiers "baby-killers." We can expect to hear that insult again soon.

George W. Bush has opened a line in the ranks of those who soldier under the white flag. He can rout these white-flag Democrats if he keeps his nerve, stays the course, and pushes his advantage. He owes it to the troops, and to all of us.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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