Column: Republicans lack counteroffensive

After enduring yet another painful episode of the campus liberal love-fest – otherwise known as “Crossfire” – this past week, it became utterly clear to me that the Democrats have launched another masterful and typically ruthless political attack against President George W. Bush. What’s even more appalling is the fact that Republicans have yet to craft an equally persuasive counteroffensive; in fact, they don’t even have a suitable defense.

A perfect example is Paul Begala’s latest rant in which he predictably labeled Bush’s weapons of mass destruction concerns as “a fib, a falsehood. It was a fabrication. It was deceitful. It was deceptive. It was dishonest.” Apparently, I was overly optimistic in expecting Tucker Carlson to have a powerful rebuttal to such a gross distortion of the truth; instead, he meekly retorted with the ineffective argument of “Whatever, I give up.” Perhaps, Mr. Carlson missed the Republican talking points that morning or just became understandably exasperated with the insufferable Begala – a man who cares more about applause lines than the truth. Nonetheless, it is critical that Republicans develop a strong public defense of President Bush amid these trying times and, yes, the truth is on our side. If the so-called pundits will not defend President Bush, then I will.

The war in Iraq was a stunning success, freeing the Iraqi populous and American people from the bloodthirsty intentions of a maniacal dictator who was obsessed with obtaining WMDs so much so that he systematically defied the mandates and sanctions of the world for 12 years. In addition, this extraordinary venture was accomplished with minimal casualties to American soldiers and Iraqi citizens – a feat that was deemed all but impossible by the left before the war. The post-occupation of Iraq has been more difficult then anticipated because of infiltration by terrorist cells. However, this only reinforces the president’s claim that Iraq was a haven of terrorist activity. I also argue the tragic deaths of American soldiers in post-war Iraq further protect American citizens by distracting potential terrorists from seeking civilian targets – innocent men, women and children – in our American homeland.

Still, don’t take Bush’s word that Saddam had WMDs. Believe it or not it was Paul Begala’s beloved boss – Bill Clinton – who made it clear in 1997 that “the community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists.” Clinton was by no means alone in these beliefs. All of his advisers unanimously agreed, from Secretary of State Madeline Albright to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, that Saddam Hussein either had or was desperately trying to obtain WMDs and could not remain unchecked in this endeavor.

Will the Democrats finally acknowledge this indisputable reality and halt their hypocritical attacks of Bush? Don’t hold your breath.

Republicans must make it unquestionably clear that the idea that Saddam Hussein was pursuing WMDs was not a concern unique to the Bush administration, but rather one that transcended party lines. If the Democrats are really attempting to argue that Bush fabricated the WMD threat then they must also, in the process, illegitimatize the foreign policy of the Clinton administration. Indeed, Clinton’s foreign policy utilized military force in Iraq for precisely the same reasons Bush did in 2003. It also follows that if Bush was lying about WMDs in Iraq, then so was Clinton and so was the United Nations – which placed seemingly infinite restrictions on the Iraqi regime in order to prevent its further acquisition of WMDs.

Furthermore, the fact that Bush was willing to act with the full force of the American military in response to such universally accepted intelligence speaks volumes about his character and the new nature of American foreign policy. After September 11, Bush realized that we could not again trust American security to the capricious whims of international terrorists. He vowed to rectify the weak and ineffective foreign policy that emboldened the al-Qaeda network throughout the 1990’s and resulted in the tragedy of 9/11; he replaced it with unyielding, determined leadership and the doctrine of preemption. As the president said, “we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Paul Begala and the Democrats are attempting to revise history by recasting the position of their party before the war and conveniently overlooking the policies of the Clinton administration. They are engaged in a shameless smear campaign where the truth is irrelevant and they willingly adopt any rhetoric, regardless of how outrageous or false, that will diminish the stature of this president. Republicans must restore the truth to the national debate and hold the Democrats accountable for their hypocritical, duplicitous claims. This might not result in resounding applause on Crossfire but, in the end, the truth will prevail.

-The writer, a freshman majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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