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Victor Davis Hanson: What Bush Needs to Do Now

Roundup: Historians' Take




For good or evil, George W. Bush will have to cross the Rubicon on judicial nominations, politicized indictments, Iraq, the greater Middle East, and the constant frenzy of the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic party — and now march on his various adversaries as never before. He can choose either to be nicked and slowly bled to death in his second term, or to bare his fangs and like some cornered carnivore start slashing back.

Before Harriet Miers, conservatives pined for a Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, with a Justice Roberts and someone like a Janice Rogers Brown rounding out a battle-hardened and formidable new conservative triad. They relished the idea of a Scalia frying Joe Biden in a televised cross-examination or another articulate black female nominee once again embarrassing a shrill Barbara Boxer — all as relish to brilliantly crafted opinions scaling back the reach of activist judges. That was not quite to be.

But now, with the Miers' withdrawal, the president might as well go for broke to reclaim his base and redefine his second term as one of principle rather than triangulating politics. So he should call in top Republican senators and the point people of his base — never more needed than now — and get them to agree on the most brilliant, accomplished, and conservative jurist possible. He should then ram the nominee through, in a display to the American people of the principles at stake.

It is also time to step up lecturing both the American people and the Iraqis on exactly what we are doing in the Sunni Triangle. We have been sleepwalking through the greatest revolutionary movement in the history of the Middle East, as the U.S. military is quietly empowering the once-despised Kurds and Shiites — and along with them women and the other formerly dispossessed of Iraq. In short, the U.S. Marine Corps has done more for global freedom and social justice in two years than has every U.N. peacekeeping mission since the inception of that now-corrupt organization.

This is high-stakes — and idealistic — stuff. And the more we talk in such terms, the more the president can put the onus of cynical realism on the peace movement and the corrupt forces in the Middle East, who alike wish us to fail. Forget acrimony over weapons of mass destruction, platitudes about abstract democracy, and arguments over U.S. security strategies. Instead bluntly explain to the world how at this time and at this moment the U. S. is trying to bring equality and freedom to the unfree, in a manner rare in the history of civilization.

Yes, the Kurds and the Shiites need to compromise. The Sunnis must disavow terrorism. But above all, the American people need to be reminded there was no oil, no hegemony, no money, no Israel, and no profit involved in this effort, but something far greater and more lasting. And so it no accident that the Iraqis are the only people in the Arab world voting in free elections and dying as they fight in the war against terror....
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