Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bush Becoming a "Compassionate" Conservative?

I must give the President some credit over the last couple of months for the various speeches he has made where he has been more open to moderate criticism of his Iraq policy. This is most certainly in stark contrast to the overall attitude the Administration has stubbornly held ever since the very beginning. The perception that the neoconservatives had effectively hijacked the Republican Party and the Bush Administration had gradually gained credibility up until now. Although there remain some stubborn elements within the Administration, particularly Mr. Rumsfeld, and Mr. Cheney, President Bush appears determined to change this perception and assert "compassionate" conservatism as he had promised during his 2000 campaign. This new direction by the President really began shortly after Hurricane Katrina when the President boldly promised massive aide to rebuild New Orleans and the affected areas. When President Bush took responsibility for the failure of the federal government to respond quickly enough, and then followed up with concessions about failures in his Iraq policy in recent speeches, it demonstrated his "compassionate" conservative side.

However, yesterday the President took a step backwards by attempting to set boundaries for the debate over the Iraq war. He disingenuously grouped the extreme left who talk about conspiracies for oil and the alliance with Israel as reasons for going to war, with moderates who blame the intelligence community for mishandling the information pertaining to WMDs in Iraq. You cannot have it both ways, Mr. President. Either the American people are allowed to express their dissenting views in times of war openly and without fear of being accused of providing comfort to the enemy, or all dissenting opinions or suggestions are disregarded and a change of course in the tides of war is blocked, therefore preventing any possibility of success in Iraq.

I believe the most recent remarks accusing certain dissenters of aiding the enemy is purely a political move to scare swing voters into keeping Republicans in power for the upcoming midterm congressional elections, because otherwise those Democrats will cause failure in Iraq by pulling out before the job is done. The problem with the argument is that in fact a majority of Democrats in Congress are not in favor of leaving Iraq on a whim. The votes tallied that were opposed to the Iraq Resolution presented by Republican Senator Duncan Hunter in response to Democrat Senator John Murtha's call for redeployment of the troops prove this point. Although many liberals may prefer a quicker withdrawal from Iraq than the President, including DNC chairman Howard Dean, this is not indicative of any effort by Democrats on the Hill to end this war before the Iraqi government is stable enough to handle its own security.

We all want the same thing, which is success in Iraq. Even the harshest critics of Bush's Iraq policy, which include former members of his Administration, not just Democrats, want America to succeed in making Iraq stable and secure, but may have another way to go about it. All the criticism and dissent over Iraq is about bringing alternative ideas and strategies at a critical juncture of this war. Now is not the time to play politics by accusing these patriotic Americans of aiding the enemy, Mr. President. Please get back on board your train of compassionate conservatism and keep an open mind to the criticism that may provide an alternative route to true victory.

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