For a few months now, I’ve been sketching out some ideas for a series of posts on how President Bush squandered the political capital he earned in his 2004 election victory and lost the support he enjoyed with a majority of the American people. As I’ve been thinking about this issue, some general themes have emerged, largely related to the problems I have identified in past posts, the president’s excessive loyalty to his aides and his failure to respond more readily to critics.
Yesterday, I read a Weekly Standard piece by Bill Kristol who, in reporting on the Administration’s failure to respond to a Defense Department report on Saddam Husssein’s ties to Al Qaeda, gets at the essence of one of the latter problem, the Administration’s failure to set the record straight when the MSM spins the news to fit their narratives.
Perhaps, the Bush team wished to avoid being perceived as was that of president’s predecessor for spinning the news and believed that the truth would out. Well, if that were the case, why does Joe Wilson remain so prominent after he has long been discredited?
Indeed, it was the Administration’s failure to address directly that Democrat’s distortions which caused people to start becoming increasingly skeptical of the decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.
Once again, as Kristol notes, the Administration is “silent” when MSM spins a report to suit their narrative. ABC News reports the study finds “no evidence Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda.” But, in fact, that very report, as Kristol’s colleague Stephen Hayes shows, found extensive ties between Hussein and “groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda . . . or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.”
The media has shown little interest in presenting the Republican side of the debate over Iraq. (Note the footnote to my previous post where I note a “senior writer” for the Philadelphia Inquirer describes Joe Wilson without referencing that the op-ed the writer cited had been discredited.) If the president wants to get his side out, he needs to us the bully pulpit of the presidency to make his case. Or at least dispatch his aides out to set the record straight.
He can’t expect the media to do it for him. Even when he’s right.
Had he done this more readly over the past five years, he might enjoy higher approval ratings than he does today. And might still enjoy the credibility he had on Iraq at the time he pushed to liberate that nation from a tyrant who, this recent report shows, supported groups allied with Al Qaeda and which worked to advance its agenda.