Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What Bush needs to do to come back

There's no sense in the White House living in denial any more. President Bush has been seriously damaged politically, and frankly he deserves it, in my opinion.

That being said, the last thing I want to see is damaged leadership during war time.

The failed Dubai Ports deal was a watershed event in the Bush Presidency, and emphasized what a lot of Americans who initially supported the president have felt for a very long time, even if they haven't articulated it; that he is simply too close to the Saudis and other Sunni Arab autocracies to conduct what he refers to as the `War on Terror' in the way it needs to be waged. The Ports deal was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Another aspect of this, of course is the political failure of the administration to prepare the ground properly by briefing congressional leaders before attempting to push this through the system. If in fact a strategic quid pro quo was involved with the Saudis and/or the UAE and the president was able to sufficiently justify it, things might have been different.

To be fair, President Bush from the day he was elected has faced unreasonable hostility from his partisan political opponents. And he has had to face challenges no one anticipated and that were not of his making. Nevertheless, he has consistently seemed to take only half measures in addressing those challenges, and been less than adequate in one of the main tasks of leadership..to make policy and sell that policy to the electorate.

If I had the opportunity to sit down with President Bush for a few minutes of conversation, here's what I'd tell him:

The biggest plus you have, Mr. President, is your image with the average American as a regular guy, and not one of the elites. People perceived this as an inside deal that was cooked up for the benefit of your Arab pals at the expense of America's security. And I don't think many people bought the line that you were unaware of it until it was a done deal.

Neither did they agree with you that the UAE is a loyal ally against Islamic terrorism. Or our `eternal friends' the Saudis, for that matter. Most Americans get a foul taste in their mouths every time you utter that turgid little phrase. The Saudis and the other Sunni autocracies might be useful at keeping the oil taps turned on at record high prices, or reassuring allies like India that the oil flow will continue no matter what happens with Iran, but friends? Uh uh.

Let's not confuse a relationship of convenience with friendship, Mr. President. Real alliances come out of shared values, not convenience.

This is an ideological war as much as anything else, and you owe the American people some candor in that regard.

The Saudis have been exporting hardline Wahabi-style Islam with its jihadist rhetoric to the US for years through the co-opting of America's mosques, madrassahs and mideast studies departments in our universities, and do it to this day. The roster of ex-US legislators and diplomats on the Arab payroll as lobbyists is astounding and pervasive. And virtually every radical Islamic group in the USA receives funding from these people.

So for a start, Mr. Bush, that sorry state of affairs needs tending. Most Americans are not aware of the fact that you sent both Condi Rice and your personal envoy Karen Hughes to Saudi Arabia to ask them to curtail the export of radical Islam into America, and that the Saudis politely told them to go pound sand. But you're aware of it, and need to take steps to stop it here at home. And if that means legal restrictions on foreign gifts to presidential libraries and speaking fees, or on ex-legislators and government employees acting as lobbyists for foreign governments, so be it.

If it means legislation forbidding foreign funding of religious institutions in America and a hard line on radical mosques, imams and madrassahs, then that's what needs to happen, if you want to start convincing Americans that we really are in a war and that you personally are not corrupted by your cozy relationship with certain Arab countries.

And I would urge you to reach out to American Muslims, urge them to take sides in this war and to give them a platform to fight the takeover of their religious institutions by radical Islam. Many of them came here to flee exactly the kind of Islamist tyranny represented by your Saudi friends. So far, the only American Muslims you've given the time of day to have been Islamists like CAIR.

You also need to stop accomodating these Arab regimes by backdoor funding of Arab terrorists that target Israel and stop winking at their breaking of US law by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and boycotting Israel. You may think you can curry favor with your pal Abdullah of Saudi Arabia by funneling cash through the World Bank instead of US Aid, but it doesn't fool anybody that's paying attention, it isn't helping the war effort and makes you look like a hypocrite. Believe it or not, Dubbyah, Israel is kind of popular with Evangelical Christians as well as a lot of other Americans who voted for you. And they didn't appreciate you shilling for the UAE once the UAE's involvement in things like this came out. You once said something about us opposing countries that harbor and finance terrorism. I respectfully suggest you revisit the Bush Doctrine and begin practicing it. It would restore a lot of lost credibility.

Towards that end, you might want to do more than just talk about our dependence on Arab oil. Level with your fellow Americans, put the country on a war footing if you have to, and rev up America's domestic energy creation. Give your fellow Americans credit for being willing to endure a few sacrifices for victory. They might just surprise you. In any event, it needs to happen regardless.

I would also advise you to figure out what you're planning on doing about Iran, if you haven't already. Iran was not problem of your making, but it popped its ugly head out two years ago, during your watch, and thus far the only action you seem to have taken has been to let the EU3 muddle around in useless negotiations and to push for the referral of Iran to the UN for sanctions that would be meaningless even if you managed to get past a Russian veto. This is not the kind of problem that can be deferred to the next administration without a major risk to America's security.

This is the sort of leadership the American people re-elected you for, Mr. President. And I sincerely think you have it in you to deliver.

Step up to the plate, Mr. President. The comeback starts today. And I'm rooting for you.


Baron Bodissey said...

An important and timely post. I've excerpted some of it.

Trackback: Excellent Advice for the President.

Dan Zaremba said...

The Ports deal was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The treatment of Israel was not so good either.

Papa Ray said...

Well, I'm just glad that the President hasn't taken your advice.

Did you ever hear about timing, or knowing when to pick a fight or knowing when to hold them or when to fold them?

Do you actually believe that the President didn't know the crap wouldn't hit the fan over the ports deal?

Thats why the deal was kept secret, not from him, but from all the rest of us.

Now we have given the Arabs another reason to screw us or rather screw over us. Do you think he wasn't buying something important with the deal with the UAE?

Figure it out.

We don't need him to start telling the world the truth now, just so the average American can say that the President is doing right, or that he knows who our enemies are or that he has good plans.

How the hell can we have any chance of success if we broadcast our plans or true feelings.

Have you never heard of dis-information?

Our enemies sure have and use it daily.

President Bush, would like to come clean about a bunch of things but hell, he can't even get the State dept. or the CIA or even his own people to keep their mouths shut.

He can't tell the American public anything that he doesn't want the whole damn world to know.

You can bet your butt that plans are in the works covering all kinds of things that are bothering you and me and the guy down the street.

But, barring leaks (which I'm sure there will be some) all of those plans are being held very, very close to the chest of a very select few.

We can't even trust our elected congresscritters to keep secrets, let alone the leftish staff most of them have.

Maybe its just a few thousand people and me that have faith in President Bush now, but I know he has had some bad advice and made some bad mistakes but he is a man of his word and unless congress or God gets in his way, he is determined to do his best to protect the United States.

At least that is what I believe and since he is not going to get re-elected, I don't think he or I should give a damn what the American Polls show or what the average American or euroweenie thinks.

Its his show, as much as it can be with all the crap that is going on behind his back, I'm not going to second guess him now.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Freedom Fighter said...

Thanks for weighing in, Ray.

Unfortunately, I disagree with you.

In the first place, you state that Bush knew `the crap would hit the fan over the ports deal'. If you're correct and he knew, you AGREE with me that the president was NOT telling the truth when he claimed he didn't know about this in advance.

I'm very much aware that Bush `bought something' with this deal. And I posted on that here:J O S H U A P U N D I T: What's really behind the port deal controversy.

Bush's failure to brief influential leaders in congress even in the GOP shows that whatever he `bought' shows that perhaps it wasn't all that good a bargain, or that there were other extenuating circumstances that he thought were better left alone..like the Bush family's financial ties to the UAE.

They're not ALL lefty blabbermouths, Ray. There are a number of people in congress who could be trusted. Look at what happened to all the hoopla over the NSA wiretaps after Bush briefed congress.

You also fail to address the wholesale abdication of the president's leadership when it comes to fighting the Saudi export of jihad here at home.

See, Ray, you're not talking to some knee-jerk Bush basher here. I not only voted for the President in `04, I worked onhis campaign.

And I'm frankly, disgusted at the way he has dropped the ball. I want to see him fight this war and win...that's why he was re-elected.

And all the ports deal did, as I stated, was to crystalize the feelings a lot of Americans who voted for him have...that he's too damn close personally to certain Arab countries to do so.

I recommend that you check the site's archives onthese subjects. It may give you a new perspective.

Thanks again for weighing in.

Unknown said...

Welcome to the Watcher's Council! I've commented on your submissionL (and the rest of the Council submissions) in my weekly “Eye on the Watcher's Council” feature).

jakejacobsen said...

Couldn't agree more, however, the illegal immigration issue is the one that will kill the president dead.

People hate this about four times more than anything you mentioned in this article and it has the benefit of having simmered a whole lot longer.

So long as he keeps serving the corporate paymasters instead of the American people I think the Republican party is going to take a huge hit.

Thanks for a great piece!