A Hamiltonian President Bush puts the quietus on hard left demagogues about his war strategy.... at last!
Monday morning quarterbacking and carping are easy for the armchair demagogues who have offered up no war strategy of their own since September 11, 2001. Their time for putting up has long since been past due, which has not inspired them to "shut up." So.... how about doing so now.
Excerpts from Owens' piece are below.... or you can read all at the above link.
"The president’s speech today at the Naval Academy is as fine an example of republican rhetoric as I have heard since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
In Number 71 of The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton wrote about the relationship between presidential rhetoric and public opinion in a republic.
'There are some who would be inclined to regard the servile pliancy of the Executive to a prevailing current, either in the community or in the legislature, as its best recommendation. But such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes for which government was instituted, as of the true means by which the public happiness may be promoted.
The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests....'
One of the most important functions of the president in our form of republican government, writes Hamilton, is to shape public opinion, not put his finger in the air to determine what direction the wind is blowing...."
I don’t know if President Bush has ever read The Federalist Papers, but the steps he is to taking to explain the policy and strategy of the United States in Iraq means that he has at long last recognized Hamilton’s principle. His speech today at the Naval Academy is as fine an example of republican rhetoric as I have heard since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
We often forget that opinion polls have no constitutional standing. Nonetheless, when properly done, they can tell us a great deal about what the citizenry are thinking. And it is clear that in the absence of any attempt by the president to defend his policies, the vacuum has been filled by “by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess [the people’s] confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.” Under such circumstances, it should not be surprising that public support for the war has gone down....
Another name for such operators is “demagogue.” Our demagogues have pandered to the fears and weaknesses of the American rather than to their virtues and strengths. In his Naval Academy speech, President Bush did just the opposite, exercising his “duty [as one whom the people have] appointed to be the guardians of [their] … interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.”
Today’s speech is the opening salvo in a campaign of public diplomacy to reinvigorate the war effort and restore public support for our enterprise in Iraq. It coincides with the release of the president’s Iraq strategy document, which is important in and of itself. The fact is that the United States has always had a strategy for Iraq, but any strategy worthy of the name must be adaptable.
What critics mean when they say there is no strategy is that they don’t like what the president is doing, although none have offered any alternative but withdrawal. By publishing the outline of his strategy, the president makes it impossible for his critics to take the easy way out. Now they will have to put up or shut up…if only.
As far as the speech goes, I think he did a fine job today. Now he needs to keep up the fire...."