Today, while beginning my day, I had FoxNews on and was delighted to hear the President challenge the critics of his new Iraq policy, saying that it was their “obligation”* to put forward their own plan. It seems he’s following up on his strong State of the Union address where, as I noted earlier this week, quoting Powerline’s John Hinderaker, that the president was “back on his game.”
And he was back on his game asking for his critics to come up with an alternative to his Iraq policy.
For as long as Bush-hatred has been a phenomenon of American politics, it seems that its practitioners are more interested in baiting than in arguing. And, by and large, the president has not done a good job of challenging his angry adversaries. They claim he lied in leading us to war without offering particulars, that is, without pointing to statements the president made in the months before the war — and showing how the president knew them to be false when he made them.
Let’s hope we see more of the combative President Bush I saw today on FoxNews. While he need not adopt the ruthlessness of his predecessor in going after his critics, he should at least bear in mind that part of Clinton’s success stemmed from his willingness to rebut his opponents (or attempt to discredit them). The president and his team should dare to challenge his critics, questioning their assumptions and demanding that they come up with alternatives (as he did today).
Perhaps had he done a better job of defending the mission in Iraq — and done so regularly, we might see greater public support for the war. Just as he should have taken more time to take issue with those who level false accusations against him — and criticize his plans without putting forward alternatives of their own.
* The President’s exact words were: “They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work.”