Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Here's how President Bush can win the debate against John Kerry
How important are debates: In recent elections, presidential debates have been dismissed as "snooze fests" short on any newsmaking developments. Hardly anyone remembers the debates that Bill Clinton had with Bob Dole in 1996. Polls taken after debates over the years have shown that the results are a mixed bag; partisans thought their guy won while independents were split down the middle.
The premium placed on this debate between President Bush and Senator Kerry is different. Bush has a big lead in the polls and Kerry has struggled to close the gap. Therefore, those who want Kerry to win are turning this debate into an important heavyweight bout, "The Rumble in the Jungle." The only way that Kerry can catch up to Bush is if he wins the debate and if the debate itself is seen as the most important factor in choosing a president.
The liberals are setting up a news cycle that is ready to spring into action if Kerry is perceived as a convincing winner. They want to do everything they can to try to convince voters that this is once again, a horserace. The Super Bowl type pre-debate coverage has exaggerated the importance that a debate possesses in the totality of a campaign. The Democrats are itching for a street fight but their tactic might backfire if President Bush makes a strong showing. Debates are important, but Kerry's team is throwing all their eggs into one basket.
President Bush can, and most likely, will do a good job in debate. In my humble opinion, I think he will win for the following reasons:
Afghanistan: The "forgotten theater" in the War on Terror, Afghanistan has been a spectacular success in America's fight against the terrorists. An American led international coalition has done a good job of reversing the fortunes of a country that was regressing into the Dark Ages. No wonder that John Kerry and the Democrats hardly ever talk about Afghanistan. By refusing to acknowledge President Bush's successful efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Bush has a strong quiver in his arsenal of arguments.
Bush must remind people that when he came into office, 4 years ago, the Taliban was a shadowy outfit that had a stranglehold on Afghanistan and was harboring the world's most depraved terrorists. Today, the Taliban is gone and Al Qaeda is seriously degraded. Kerry wants to make people forget about America's success in Afghanistan, but Bush should tout our achievement as much as possible.
Iraq: America has not lost one battle in Iraq, as much as Kerry and others would have us believe. Every time American forces have engaged terrorists in Falluja, Najaf and elsewhere they have been victorious. The only impediments to victory in Iraq are the political wafflers and short-sighted bureaucrats. Democrats have conjured up defeatist words like "quagmire" to scare American into thinking that we are losing an unwinnable fight. President Bush sees it differently. He has the patience and vision to see us through.
Bush is doing something that Democrats like John Kerry talked about during the 1990's but never got done. In fact, Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act when he was president. Unlike his opponent, Bush does not take lightly the unmitigated suffering of millions of Arabs at the hands of despotic and evil rulers. Bush has the courage to risk political capital to implement his vision of a road map to peace in the Middle East and to protect this country.
Europe: Kerry has assailed Bush for pursuing an "isolationist" stance and "unilateral" policies. The Democrats and Kerry have lamented how we failed to get countries like France, Germany and Russia to join us in throwing Saddam out of power. Bush's detractors like to say he damaged relations with our allies in order to fight Saddam Hussein.
Well, investigations of the Iraqi-U.N. Oil for Food scandal have revealed that those supposed allies had their own selfish and greedy reasons to keep Saddam in power. European interests that wanted to continue doing business with Saddam were not inclined to help us remove a terrible dictator from his Baghdad palaces. Therefore, Bush should turn the tables and ask Kerry why he would defend those European allies who damaged relations with us, the United States, in order to keep Saddam Hussein.
Homeland Security: After the attacks of September 11, many experts, pundits and talking heads predicted that we would continuously be victimized by terrorist attacks. The common refrain was, "It's not a matter of if but a matter of when." Since 9/11 there has not been a terrorist attack on our soil. During the days immediately after 9/11 no one would have predicted that we would have been terror-attack free by the time the first presidential debate took place.
Therefore, credit has to be given to the Bush Administration, especially Tom Ridge's Homeland Security department and the coordination with law enforcement agencies around the country. President Bush must tout the successful Patriot Act and how it has allowed us to be proactive in finding, rooting out and eliminating terrorist risks and attacks.
Conclusion: President Bush's foreign policy achievements have been striking especially considering the scope of the issues he has had to deal with since the day that surprised and horrified all of us, September 11th. When Bush came into power, Saddam Hussein's regime, the Taliban and Al Qaeda were at the heights of their power. Today, they are either gone or seriously diminished.
Kerry will accuse Bush of neglecting the fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan by attacking Iraq. Remember, Bush was criticized for attacking Afghanistan in October, 2001 because liberals claimed that Al Qaeda wasn't the only terrorist group in the world. President Bush should state that the fight against terrorism should not suffer from the static, narrow-mindedness that Kerry promotes.
By aggressively and confidently defending his reasons for making us safer, Bush should do well enough to prevent John Kerry from obtaining the knockout his supporters feel he desperately needs. President Bush's accomplishments in making us safer in a matter of 3 years is nothing short of remarkable.