Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 6:34 am

The speech given by President Bush at the Naval Academy yesterday outlining his plan for victory in Iraq was a brilliant exposition of both a rationale for our being there as well as clear strategy for victory. The President always seems to rise to the occasion during these set-piece talks and as John Hindraker points out (as well as Norman Podhoretz) Bush’s careful annunciation of his vision during these speeches has been one of the more remarkable aspects of his presidency. Perhaps no President since Wilson has spent as much time and effort in communicating an overall strategic outlook about what America’s place in the world should be and how the forces of history can be tapped to aid us in our war against the fanatical Islamists who seek to destroy us.

But the speech, like other efforts by the President recently, is falling on deaf ears. This is mostly his fault as he has allowed his political opponents to construct an Iraq narrative (almost totally at odds with the reality of what is happening on the ground) that has now taken hold with the great majority of the American people. I say it is the President’s fault because Bush has failed in the #1 area where Presidents - especially a President at war - simply cannot afford to fail; he has failed to forcefully and consistently remind the American people of why we are in Iraq and what is at stake if we lose. Instead, for months he ceded the job to his surrogates, not all of whom did he or his administration credit not to mention muddying the waters considerably regarding the strength of our commitment to victory.

It was only when Congress itself indicated a desire to usurp his authority as Commander in Chief by attempting to manage the war from Capitol Hill did the President rouse himself. First, with a defense of his actions prior to going to war and now a clear delineation of what constitutes victory, the President has finally come out from behind his desk and begun to fight.

It is unclear as to how the situation can be retrieved at this point. So much of his opponent’s narrative has been accepted as fact - we’re losing, we can’t win, Bush lied, the place is a complete mess, etc. - that only some dramatic event on the ground in Iraq such as some insurgent groups giving up and agreeing to work within a democratic framework will change the dynamic of the national conversation on the war and allow for revision of “conventional wisdom.”

Part of the problem is the President’s credibility which has been successfully challenged by his political opponents with plenty of assistance from the media. The President’s trustworthiness which was one of his strengths in last year’s election, has fallen like a stone in recent polls, hovering around 40% from a high last November in the upper 50’s. The sad fact is that the American people do not believe or trust the President at this point. History has shown that a President’s credibility can, in fact, be resurrected but that it takes time. And unless the President ’s pronouncements on Iraq can be seen as reflecting what is truly going on there, the President is in danger of losing at least the Senate and possibly even the House in next year’s elections.

So despite a brilliant speech, the President may just as well have been giving it to an empty room. Until other factors working against the President can be blunted, support for the war and for victory in Iraq will be held hostage to the forces of negativism, defeatism, and political posturing.

A sad state of affairs, that. But one that the President has mostly himself to blame.


  1. I am not so sure that the President has failed to articulate a vision for his strategy or “failed to forcefully and consistently remind the American people of why we are in Iraq and what is at stake if we lose.” The issue is how he chooses to communicate the strategy to the people. Bush has been consistent in his wanting to bypass a hostile media and take his message directly to the people. So he has made speech after speech on the issue of Iraq in “townhall” settings where his message is better received. Interestingly enough, while he bypasses the media, and doesn’t reach a nation-wide audience, I do find myself getting his message, directly through postings of his entire speech on the Internet, than I would ever get through the MSM.

    Comment by hector — 12/1/2005 @ 8:10 am

  2. When President Bush wins an election because a majority of the people vote for him (2004 not 2000), the people seem to know what they are doing. When his presidential approval rating falls to 37%, the citizens are being mislead. This is possible, but how probable is it?

    Comment by Michael Kobran — 12/1/2005 @ 9:34 am

  3. When U. S. Rep. John Murtha (Democrat-Pennsylvania), says the war is going badly and troops in Iraq should be withdrawn at once the Mendacious MainStream Media (MMSM) widely report this.

    However, when Joe Lieberman, a prominent Democratic U. S. Senator, who was a Vice Presidential candidate in 2000, returns from his 4th trip to Iraq in 17 months, and says that (A.) he sees real progress; (B.) polls indicate that two-thirds of the Iraqis say they are better off now than under Saddam Hussein; and (C.) the President has a “good plan” for victory, it is hardly reported at all by the MMSM.

    Why, because the MMSM is populated with pseudo-intellectual, pompous, arrogant, Left-wing, Marxists, Bolsheviks, Democrats & fellow travelers. These duplicitous and treacherous creatures are the worst form of humanity. Their sociopathic personalities continue a history of sick, twisted selective reporting and interpretation of news items.

    Comment by Matt — 12/1/2005 @ 11:03 am

  4. Matt -
    I think the reporting difference is because Murtha changed his position completely, and Lieberman said what he has always said. Please feel free to discount this as comming from a liberal democrat.

    Rick -
    I disagree with you a lot, but I still enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. I hope the Iraqis are ready to fill in as the US forces are reduced over the next couple of years.

    Comment by kmeson — 12/1/2005 @ 12:37 pm

  5. A Good Speech, Too Late?

    Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse has some familiar thoughts on the President’s speech and whether it will change any minds: But the speech, like other efforts by the President recently, is falling on deaf ears. This is mostly his fault…

    Trackback by The Bernoulli Effect — 12/1/2005 @ 12:54 pm

  6. I think that you all fault the president a bit too much. With the possible exception of Lincoln, no president has had to deal with as negative a press as has Bush, and Lincoln solved his problem by arresting the press leaders and/or shutting them down. The NYT, Washington Post, AP and others fit that category and in Lincoln’s time their editors and leaders would have been imprisoned for sedition.

    Comment by docdave — 12/1/2005 @ 1:02 pm

  7. I am a little confused as to how the President’s failure to successfully sell the Iraq war and the lack of trust people currently have for him on the media. The very same mainstream media was in place when he 1) was re-elected, 2)had high ratings of trust, and 3) the majority of Americans supported the war effort. If, as the current Republican narrative goes, the MSM has sabotaged Bush’s support, how did he ever have support in the first place? Since the MSM has supposedly opposed Bush and the conservatives all along, wouldn’t he have never been elected in the first place? You can’t argue that the MSM is all powerful when things go bad, but irrelevant when things are going good (well, you can, but it would be disingenuous).
    And docdave, when the Confederate states seceded from the Union, what do you think would have happened if Lincoln had invaded Canada because it was a hotbed of Confederate sympathizer activity, Canada’s leaders were secretly supporting and aiding the Confederacy, and gotten bogged down in Quebec, instead of going after the Confederate States of America? I suspect his issues with the press would have seriously intensified and the overall support for the war by the American public would have been quite low. That’s an analogy for those of you in Rio Linda.

    Comment by ed — 12/1/2005 @ 1:57 pm

  8. In response to Ed:

    Clearly the MSM operates on the old liberal addage: if you say a lie enough the people will believe it. That should answer your question about popularity ratings pertaining to the President. The President difficulty this time around is that he hasn’t responded enough to the lie.

    Comment by Theway2k — 12/1/2005 @ 2:46 pm

  9. Kmeson

    I don’t think Murtha’s position is anything new. As I recall, he declared Iraq “unwinnable” about a year ago. The main stream news media seems to have spun this as being a new position.


    Your analysis is spot on. I think it was a former Chinese Communist leader who said if you shout a lie long enough and loud enough people will begin to believe it. It may not have been a Chinese Communinst leader but it was a Communist leader.


    Very good post. I do hope it is not to late for the President to rally public opinion. We really are in a fight for our survival. He needs to do a better job of communicating. I’m not sure how often he can do press conferences or State of the Union addresses, furthermore I’m unsure how to get around the fact that the main stream media will spin everything he says or does. For the forseeable future I might suggest a State of the Union adress every evening or at least four or five a week. It really is a pity that we must fight both Islamic Extremist Terrorists who wish to destroy us and the main stream news media at the same time but this is how it is.

    Comment by B.Poster — 12/1/2005 @ 5:19 pm

  10. Unlike Clinton who HAD TO employ a ‘quick response team” to ANY critics. Bush may, in his heart not truly be a partisan. His “new tone” has resulted in absolute frustration for those of us that wish the President would not only respond more often, but employ acerbic skills similar to H.L. Mencken regarding his critics.

    But alas, we must suffer, and with little help from the press who have grown dependant on AP, Al-Jazzera, Reuters type news parroting rather than reporting, a real thick boilerplate emerges. The media talk to each other. While ‘fly-over’ America wants forceful articulation from the President. I too am frustrated that he doesn’t do this often enough. He’s got the arrows: to paraphrase Lincoln, maybe I could use them if he’s not going to.

    Comment by P. Aaron — 12/1/2005 @ 5:54 pm

  11. ed, I can’t think of one major news media (maybe Fox is the exception) who except rarely has anything good to say about the Bush administration and the Iraqi war. These same media agencies have lost a lot of readers and viewers which means that those people are getting their news from elsewhere, probably from the internet: bloggers and news media like WND (they get millions of hits each day), Newsmax and others. Bushs election victories were marginal at best and considering the quality of the opposition they might have been more decisive if he (Bush) would have gotten favorable press coverage and endorsements (I believe that none of the major media endorsed Bush).

    My comments about Lincoln had more to do with in Lincolns perception the apparent seditious actions of some of the press. Some of the same press fled to Canada to avoid prosecution as Canada has often y been a refuge for dissidents from this country (slaves escaping from the south, Vietnam draft dodgers, etc.). Lincoln had his hands more than full with the south so was not likely to consider invading Canada who as a nation was not threatening the north. Besides the naval blockade was essentially keeping foreign supplies from reaching the south.

    Comment by docdave — 12/1/2005 @ 6:38 pm

  12. A sad state of affairs, that. But one that the President has mostly himself to blame.

    That is a foolish comment. It is up to every Republican in Congress to support the war and the President. They are not doing it.

    Comment by Richard — 12/1/2005 @ 6:49 pm

  13. B.Poster -
    I’ve not followed Murtha’s position closely but my understanding is that while his disapproval of the wars direction may not be new his proscribed solution is very different (redeploy OTH vs. send more troops).

    Comment by kmeson — 12/1/2005 @ 6:53 pm

  14. Gina Cobb has a good post on Murtha

    Comment by docdave — 12/1/2005 @ 7:22 pm

  15. To Moran and all the other “says” with all stated here, is there no wonder that President Bush will NOT be re-elected in 2008. And such a damn shame that is. What will we do?

    What I am really saying is that we start from here not bemoaning there. President Bush is not a dunce, he has a plan, infact I dare say that he has plans for everything. Think of all the times that he has successfully strung the dems along and then they are forced to eat their own words. He gets them out on a limb, they feel real cocky, think’in they got him by the short hairs and poof, I mean CRACK. President Bush escapes their trap and puts them in the worst light, backing tracking, lying about what they were saying, pretending to lead a parade instead of looking like they are being run out of town.

    Did you all think that President Bush was doing nothing about the border? Did you hear his speech, bet it suprised you to find out that he had an eye on it all the time and working the problem. A problem that has been festering forever. Won’t be solved overnight. If it was easy, someone would of alread done it!

    Moran, stay the course.

    Comment by diamond — 12/1/2005 @ 7:23 pm

  16. Bush’s careful annunciation

    Typo alert: You mean “enunciation” (unless you’ve some kind of Christ-fixation with Bush!). Better you should hear it from a friend…

    Comment by The Sanity Inspector — 12/1/2005 @ 7:36 pm

  17. You know what, people?

    If you listen to the news, including the MSM, you will hear the Democratic party imploding on itself.

    The problem with polls? They didn’t ask the rest of us a darned thing!

    Common sense always takes a beating, but it will prevail in the end.

    Keep ya heads up.

    Comment by ddennis — 12/2/2005 @ 12:34 am

  18. This was well put and I chuckled as I read it:

    It was only when Congress itself indicated a desire to usurp his authority as Commander in Chief by attempting to manage the war from Capitol Hill did the President rouse himself.


    Comment by JR @ RightFaith — 12/2/2005 @ 9:08 am

  19. I didn’t see the speech…was held up LOL…so this is the first really good honest review I have read so far.
    I think you’re right Rick…from the sounds of it, a great speech with no audience who wants to hear just words. I wonder if it would be different if he spoke at night vs. the middle of the day??

    Comment by Raven — 12/2/2005 @ 3:08 pm

  20. [...] I checked out Rick Moran’s take on the speech, I decided to go with his assessment. The speech given by President Bush at the Naval Academy yesterday outl [...]

    Pingback by And Rightly So! » Victory Speech — 12/2/2005 @ 4:04 pm

  21. Kmeson

    Murtha declared “unwinnable” about a year ago. This did not get any coverage. We still probably would not know about this, if not for alternative media. If you think it is unwinnable, it seems logical you would support a redeploy over the horizion position. I think the reason he gets attention now and not a year ago for his stance is because the Democrats think they can score political points with it. They may be correct. Personally I think we need to be sending more troops and looking for ways to remain in Iraq rather than talking about when we are going to withdraw and talking about drawing down troops. If we are to win the Global war against Islamic Extremists Terrorists, at a minimum, the regimes in control of Iran and Syria will either need to be removed or they will need to change course. Having a presence in Iraq helps us to be able to put some pressure on them. Without a presence in Iraq, while pressuring them may not be impossible, it will likely be much more difficult.

    Comment by B.Poster — 12/2/2005 @ 5:40 pm

  22. Check out Rassmussen Reports–big jump in the percentage of the people who believe we’re winning the war. Maybe not too late, but I’ll agree that they should have been saying this months ago.

    Comment by Brainster — 12/2/2005 @ 5:51 pm

  23. Murtha’s plan to redeploy quick reaction teams to surrounding countries is a pipe dream. First of all, which countries would let us? Kuwait? As I recall, it took us at least week to get to Baghdad when we invaded from Kuwait. Think of how many IED’s would be planted along that road now. It would be suicide!

    Stay the course, George. The plan is working.

    Comment by opine6 — 12/4/2005 @ 11:38 pm

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