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Thursday, September 02, 2004

As I said

Robert Novak writes of the President's little slip:

Actually, most of the 4,853 delegates and alternates to this convention were blissfully unaware of the little drama that played out briefly this week in an otherwise purposely uneventful convention. Even Bush's surrogates hardly mentioned the problem during their regular conference calls. But prominent Republicans, asking that their names not be used, expressed concern about the broader implications of the incident.

One senior senator with a flawless conservative voting record told me: "The troops in the field and their relatives at home must believe that an end is in sight. It would be really disastrous for them to think that there is no chance of winning this war." A prominent conservative governor, a particularly staunch Bush backer, said that the president had "stopped his own momentum" just as it seemed Sen. Kerry was in increasing trouble. The Democratic nominee was reeling, as another independent television ad used 33-year-old footage of Kerry saying he threw away his Vietnam War decorations.

The interruption of Bush's momentum conflicted with the meticulously planned national convention. Sen. John McCain delivered an effective argument for the war in Iraq, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani explained the war on terror more effectively than the president has ever managed to do. Ironically, in a tightly managed convention, any slipup -- however small -- is magnified out of proportion.

That the mistake was viewed with alarm by the Bush political high command was signified Tuesday when the president was not content to correct himself to the American Legion. He rapidly moved to explain himself to Rush Limbaugh's huge listening audience. When the conservative talk show host promptly asked about the Lauer interview, the president replied: "Well, I appreciate you bringing that up. Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I meant."

But why on earth didn't he make his point more clearly? In privately confessing that the president made a mistake, his own aides do not go deeper into why he erred. In the Lauer interview, Bush gives the impression that he was not concentrating on one of his final pre-convention interviews, acting as if he really were bored by the process. He obviously meant to say, as he did the next day, that "we may never sit down at a peace table." Instead, he hurried over and blurred the well-rehearsed explanation.

So much for the notion that "he didn't really say that" or "he was referring only to the time frame" etc. It's quite clear that Bush's advisors interpreted his remarks in the same way I did, otherwise he wouldn't have made such an effort to subsequently "correct" them. He certainly may have intended to say something about never sitting down at a peace table, but when one is not guarding one's tongue, it is what one truly believes that tends to slip out. I don't blame the President for this, as I happen to largely agree with what he apparently thinks privately, as opposed to his public rhetoric.

The horrors that Russia finds itself facing are the direct result of its intervention with Chechnya. The Islamic Chechens don't hate Russian freedom and they don't want to conquer Moscow. No one disputes that. Why is it, then, so hard to understand that following the Russian lead has led and is likely to lead to the same sort of tragedy here?

I'm neither a leftist nor a liberal. The root cause of terrorism is not poverty or oppression. But terror is a method with a goal. Islam will not use terror to take over the USA, it will use what it is using in Europe, immigration. Islamic terror is used for a different purpose, the same purpose it is used around the world, to achieve a specific goal. In Russia, it is to drive the Russian occupiers of Chechnya out. In Israel, it is to drive the Jews out. In Kashmir, it is to drive the Indians out. In Egypt, it is to drive the secular government out. In the Philippines and East Timor, it is to drive the Christians out of certain Islamic-dominated islands.

So, what is the most logical conclusion with regards Islamic terror directed against the United States. Do they hate the freedom of the Mubarak government too?

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