July 23, 2004
FortitudeBy Matthew May
President George W. Bush has endured an onslaught of attacks from his opponents and critics in the nation's dominant media organs, the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Richard Nixon. Perhaps it is unprecedented.
When was the last time, if ever, that a mendacious propaganda film like Fahrenheit 911, aimed squarely against the sitting President of the United States, received such widespread attention and acclaim? Many prominent Democrats, including Tom Daschle, attended the premiere of Moore's cinematic screed, and the Congressional Black Caucus is sponsoring a screening of it at the Democratic National Convention. By comparison, Milhouse, a scathing documentary about Nixon, received nowhere near the critical acclaim, political recognition or box office returns of Fahrenheit 911.
The Clinton Chronicles, an anti—Clinton film, was never released theatrically, was sold mostly via direct mail, and never received support from any prominent Republican elected officials. In fact, many GOP politicians did everything they could to distance themselves from it.
The hatred among Democrats and others for President Bush rivals their earlier abhorrence for Nixon, and is approaching the hatred that large numbers of Americans had for Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. This loathing manifests itself in many ways.
The President is hounded at a press conference to admit mistakes in his war plan, so that David Gregory and Terry Moran can squeal on the air that President Bush admitted he was wrong. Sen. John Kerry undoubtedly has a ready—made TV ad, awaiting only the insertion of a freshly—minted clip from a Presidential press conference.
Most major media give short shrift and non—graphic coverage to the gruesome beheadings of Americans in favor of screaming headlines and redundant pictures of a minor military prison scandal that is currently being handled with military efficiency.
Rich Lowry of National Review Online calls attention to the media—driven perception of President Bush as a dimwitted fool or a mastermind shyster capable of astonishing corruption and deceit, depending on which side of the bed Peter Jennings awakes each morning. The President's decision to hand over sovereignty to a free Iraq —— a major event in the history of the world —— is reported and forgotten in a day or two.
Organizations made up of extreme radicals, such as MoveOn.org, a group that routinely compares the President to Adolph Hitler, have suddenly and inexplicably moved beyond the nut margin, treated by Democrats and the media as a legitimate organization because they happen to give Al Gore a platform from which to rail.
Kerry, John Edwards, Gore, and their ilk are seldom, if ever, asked to bridge the disconnect between their former hawkish stances on Iraq, the availability of weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein, and how it was the President deceived them by using the same information they used to make the case for action against Iraq in 1998, and even in 2002 and 2003. Democrats are allowed to merrily imply that the President lied to them and to the nation at large, though this canard is beginning to unravel before their eyes.
President Bush is constantly accused of running a racist government worthy of the Confederacy by Julian Bond, Kwesi Mfume, and the NAACP, though it is difficult to imagine Jefferson Davis appointing African Americans to two of the most important positions within that government. Yet the President is roundly criticized for declining an invitation from the NAACP to be jeered and booed at their annual convention, as if his appearance would placate 'the community' in the first place.
In this environment of constant howling against the administration, it is easy to become discouraged, and to think that President Bush will be defeated in November. Yet the situation is not so grave.
As Richard Baehr adroitly points out, John Kerry's mere public presence has a damaging effect on his campaign. His public utterances are so boring and useless that his own wife looks as if she'd rather be capping ketchup bottles on the line rather than listen to Kerry talk. Kerry has said almost nothing memorable or of significance, and has no coherent plan for Iraq or the war on terrorism. In fact, Kerry's speeches are devoid of anything regarding the war on terrorism save for some nonsense about restoring America's standing among our 'allies.' Kerry acts as if he does not realize a war is being waged and that he was in outer space on September 11, 2001. His alarmist notions of the American economy are at odds with the facts.
On the stump campaigning for the vice presidency, Sen. John Edwards is positively Jeffersonian. The steady reminder that this self—made millionaire is the son of a mill worker puts one in mind of America's favorite rags—to—riches dry cleaner, George Jefferson, who never hesitated mentioning to anyone who would listen that he 'was born the son of a sharecropper.' Yet like his running mate, Edwards looks like he could be President until he opens his mouth. During the Democratic primaries, he clearly was not well versed in foreign policy issues, and even had trouble grasping the nuances of domestic legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act.
Once the summer has passed, the Olympic torch has been extinguished, and football begins, the nation will begin to focus intently on the race, and the most important aspect of the race in this video—driven culture — the debates. The debates will showcase the ineptitude of Kerry and Edwards, and remind voters why they should have confidence in the Bush—Cheney administration.
Those who underestimate the President's ability to not only hold his own during a debate against Kerry, but also effectively argue the case for his leadership, do so at their own peril. Michael Kelly famously wrote that Gore lost his first debate with then—governor Bush by a nose — the one Gore spent the entire evening looking down. While it did not seem possible in the aftermath of that debacle, the Democratic Party is going to nominate a man whose opinion of himself makes Gore look sheepishly modest. Kerry's obvious disdain for the President will not serve him well on the debate podium, and he, like Gore, will have difficulty hiding his condescension. As in 2000, the President will come across as competent, confident, steadfast, and the guy with whom most people would like to sit down to dinner — barbecue in Crawford, of course.
Likewise, Vice President Dick Cheney's calm, measured presence during the lone vice presidential debate will make Edwards look like the neophyte that he is, and demonstrate Cheney's effectiveness as perhaps the strongest vice president in the nation's history. Watching Cheney logically and reasonably defend the administration's policies, it will be difficult to imagine Edwards playing a similar role should he and Kerry win. Voters will be reminded of why Cheney is a better candidate than Edwards: Cheney has the qualifications and the know—how to assume the Presidency.