May 7, 2007
A Theory of WBy James Lewis
George W. Bush poses a brain-busting Rubik's Cube to the liberals of the land, and it's only right to try to soothe their upset. Why does W talk that way? Why does he say "Noo-kyoo-lrrr" when every good liberal knows it's "Noo-kle-uhr"? Why does he openly practice monogamy, and even love his wife? Why did he name his dog Spot?
What you see is what you get with George W. Bush. He has that in common with Ronald Reagan, though W is no Reagan. He is nobody but W. This, for a conservative, is a Good Thing. It's why I voted for the man, and don't regret it for a second.
But leftishly speaking it makes no sense. For Democrats, the greatest politician of our lifetime is William Jefferson Clinton, the slick Arkansas con-man. His supreme talent for spur of the moment creative lying to any given audience is just supercool to the Left, which is betting that you can fool all the people all of the time.
Back to W. Let me bring you back to late 1999, when Bill Clinton was finishing his presidency by pardoning any crook who gave suitable donations, or whose wife he had shagged. The Oval Office carpet had visible stains on it - visible in the public imagination if not in physical fact. Over the nation there hung a pall of dread, because Clinton had so deeply corrupted US foreign policy - imagine Madeleine Albright dancing corpulently with Kim Jong Il, while hundreds of thousands of starving North Koreans marched by in parade -- so that any sane observer simply knew we were in for some looming disaster. The Chinese were sold missile secrets that allowed them to finally get their rockets into space and have them land anywhere on earth, fifteen minutes later. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the political slot machine and hit the jackpot. Clinton's White House attracted con-artists the way horse-apples draw flies.
So what kind of man do you want as President after that unholy mess? Somebody you can trust, obviously. Now you can say anything you like about W, but he does what he says he'll do --- barring Hell or high water, or an Act of Congress. He has a spine of steel, and a traditional sense of honor (taking after his Dad and Mom). He talks like Midland, Texas, because he personally identifies with that place. W owned a baseball team because he truly loved baseball, not just to get his poll numbers up. (He's also a decent baseball pitcher). He had an alcoholic past, and repented fiercely.
And he served in the Texas Air Force National Guard, flying one of the trickiest fighter jets ever owned by the USAF; one with a great number of fatal crashes, even outside of combat. If you think the Air National Guard is a cop-out, just look at Guard fighting in Iraq. No, George W's unit wasn't called to Vietnam, so he didn't go. But he didn't try avoid service like all the "progressive" Boomers. He didn't take home movies of his own heroic exploits, chasing imaginary Viet Cong through rice paddies. Just the opposite. W clears brush on his bone-dry Crawford ranch, because that's what ranchers do. You get brushfires if you don't do that kind of slogging labor in the Texas sun. Unlike John Kerry, W doesn't do things just for show.
Today we've had almost eight years of W in charge, with the liberal media going stark raving every single day, slandering him with every imaginable insult and alleged conspiracy. Few presidents have been treated as badly since Abraham Lincoln was called a great hairy ape. Yet the nation and the Administration have responded robustly to the first massive assault on the continental US since 1812. The Twin Towers attack was plotted long before this Administration came into office, making use of the unbelievable fecklessness of the previous Administration and various Democrat-controlled Congresses -- problems that couldn't be fixed in just a year before the ax fell. On 9/11, George W reaped what the Left had sown.
It hasn't been an easy time since then, but much has been accomplished. The armed forces have been transformed for special ops warfare; and now they are forced to learn large-scale counterinsurgency in the middle of a very hot war. We have fought two astonishing, faraway wars, with one still mired in uncertainty. (Lincoln, FDR and Truman would have recognized that part). We are suddenly in the midst of another Long War strategically, but hardly one of our choosing; and if a Democrat is elected in 2008, the Left will suddenly find out that it wasn't W who started it after all.
No other nation in the world could have done it. A tax cut has kept the economy cooking in spite of 9/11 and all the rest. We've had more than our share of US Government screwups, many attributable to W's lack of ruthlessness in firing Clinton leftovers in the bureaucracy. But remember the "SNAFU's" of an earlier time? 'Twas ever thus. In spite of constant sabotage from the Left and the media, the nation has recovered so well that half the people have forgotten 9/11. Our success has become our biggest problem.
Yet the United States and the world are beginning to focus seriously on nuclear proliferation and jihadi savagery, both lethally dangerous threats for the future. The nature of today's enemies is becoming clear even to some Democrats, and while leftists and Europeans whine up a daily storm, getting real about reality is something adults have to do. Nobody said it would be easy.
Think about all that for a second. Historians will see this as an astonishing record - hardly flawless, but certainly as good as other war-time administrations have managed. If Iraq settles down over the next few years, W will be seen as a president who forced history to his will for the good of his country, and yes, for the good of the world.
To be sure, W has his limits. He is remarkably like Harry S Truman, another homebody in the White House. Truman was not articulate - if you've ever seen a movie of his halting and deadly boring speaking style before Congress, you've seen the rhetorical heights of Harry S. But he was a man you could trust, and that counted for everything -- after the death of FDR, the failure of the New Deal, the end of WWII and the Depression, the fearsome reality of Stalin with nukes in Europe and KGB-run traitors at home, the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Marshall Plan, General MacArthur's insubordination, and the Iron Curtain slamming down across Europe. Not to mention the Korean War. This was a time for adults, not playboys, and Truman filled the bill. Then he simply went home to Independence, Missouri. W is amazingly like Truman. He is the anti-PR president. As a result, he keeps getting bloodied by the PR-driven media, which hates him as much as any Republican ever hated "That Man in the White House" in 1938.
I've long wondered if W was a stutterer as a boy. His halting and self-conscious delivery is typical of former stutterers. He is terribly self-conscious in public, especially when confronted with the sadistic press mob, all of them drooling to pounce on any momentary lapse. But in private, and when he feels confident, his speech flows easily and naturally. Stutterers often have the same behavior pattern, sometimes being able to sing music with real ease before falling back into halting speech.
That would also explain W's fierce sibling rivalry with Jeb, the natural. W wasn't naturally glib. He was smart enough for Yale and Harvard Business School, and learned to despise (and be despised by) slick Eastern Establishment kids (yes, like John Kerry again). Afterwards he went back to Midland, TX, the last place any ambitious Yalie would want to live. And he made it work. He was the anti-Yalie in the family. (That's of course why he says "Noo-kyoo-lrr". 'Cause that's how they say it in Texas. He could pronounce it like William F. Buckley, but he'll be damned if he's gonna give them the satisfaction. Compare that to Hillary's or Gore's phony preacher accents.)
Jeb Bush would have had an easier time dealing with the press, but W lucked into the job. As Governor of Texas, George W got along miraculously well with some of the top Democrats, and made things happen by consensus. Washington, D.C. wasn't like that, not by a long shot. So W ignored DC Society, and just got to sleep by 9:00 pm every night. Being ignored by the President drove naturally them to eight years of unrelenting collective fury.
Why doesn't George W explain himself more clearly? Because he's more comfortable with action than talk. W is focused like a laser beam on the war on terror. He knows from his Harvard Business training that an executive can only accomplish two or three big things. The war is the biggest thing his administration has to get right --- and there is no doubt that W suffers, as Lincoln did, from the agonizing need to send young people into combat. He visits them privately, and cries at their flag-covered caskets. Privately. Get that. No photo ops, no marching US Marine detachments across the West Lawn for the TV crews. In fact, no funeral photo ops at all, because soldiers' funerals are not to be used to manipulate poll numbers. I appreciate that about him.
Like Abraham Lincoln, W is guilt-driven in spite of his firm belief that this war is necessary, and that it will save lives over the longer run. What do you think it took for a man like Lincoln to pursue the bloodiest war in American history? When Lincoln was assassinated, in a sense he joined the soldiers he had ordered to war. He was prepared for it, just as he was ready to be killed on any day of the Civil War. I don't think he wanted to be shot that day in 1865, but he knew it was likely to happen. 200,000 dead Americans made Lincoln's assassination almost inevitable. The nation needed a last sacrifice, in order to live with itself.
George W. is not pathologically guilty about the iron necessity of sending young people to war. But it takes a toll on him, like it does on Dick Cheney and all the decent people in this White house. They are Americans the way Americans used to be.
Meanwhile, corruption and demagogy are standard on the Left, because Democrats are never, ever scrutinized. They know the press will let them get away with it.
Rarely in American history is morality and common decency so clearly on one side of the political divide. Republicans have no lock on decency. But the Sixties Left is cynical, self-indulgent and flagrantly immoral --- as Nicolas Sarkozy just pointed out in France. The Summer of Love turned into a Winter of Moral Decay a long time ago. It's too bad, but it's true. The Left is still drunk with self-love, enchanted with its divine right to political power. That won't change, because narcissism is not a curable condition.
In reaction, Americans who despise intellectually lazy, morally self-indulgent Boomer Leftists have just switched parties. That's what parties are for. The Democratic Party has slipped away from Middle America, and is now in bed with the worst elements in the country. It's too bad, but it will take at least a generation to change, if it ever does.
So W. is the man. He's made the toughest decisions, and he was far and away the best choice for this very hard time. I admire him, and also see his limits. That's life. We don't get perfection in presidents. Lincoln had a squeaky voice. Washington had false teeth. Jefferson kept slaves. Humans are flawed.
We're just blessed that in a time of real danger, the United States has lucked out again and found the right man for the job.
James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/