The extreme "Left" is self-defeating
President Bush has asked the U.N. Security Council to meet on February 5. By February 6, we should know what role the U.N. will play in the foreseeable future. If it fails to act, it will be forced to redesign its mission. It may continue as a humanitarian organization focused on distributing medical aid and food to people around the world, but no longer will it be addressed in regards to the preservation of peace and the enforcement of law.
Should that international body finally act in support of the resolutions it has made going back 12 years to the Gulf War, it will only do so at the urging of the president. In that sense, it is President Bush, despite the criticisms levied against him as a unilateralist, who is the best hope for the future of an internationally relevant U.N.
President Bush has been maligned for years now, before and after his election. This happens to presidents and public figures all the time. What is most interesting about President Bush's case is the visceral hatred expressed in so many of those criticisms. The attacks are personal. He's a moron. He's worse than Saddam. He's like Hitler. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are the real Axis of Evil.
These sorts of sentiments are demonstrated at mass protests, as happened a couple weeks ago in D.C. and a handful of other cities. Protestors from around the country converged to express their disdain for the President and his policies. In doing so, however, they act as the single greatest liability to the anti-war cause. Nothing turns off average Americans, who may have reasonable reservations about a war, like seeing a poster of Bush with devil horns and a Hitler mustache framed inside a swastika being carried by some screaming hippie stereotype.
There are reasonable criticisms of Bush and the war on terror and his intentions for Iraq. What will it cost? How long will American forces occupy Iraq? What are the plans for a post-Saddam government? What is the real risk he poses? Sadly, these sorts of questions are drowned out by the heckles of groups and individuals who would stubbornly refuse to back anything Bush suggested.
These sorts of personal attacks never work, especially not during times like these. Throughout the mid-1990s Republicans were avid and sometimes very personal critics of President Clinton. This always backfired. After 1994, Republicans continually lost seats in the House, and never had a strong contender against Clinton in 1996. During the impeachment process Clinton's approval ratings remained high-not because people liked him more when he was lying to them and being impeached, but because the Republicans were seen as malicious and personal.
The American Left is setting itself up for a similar situation. I say the "Left" because the real attack isn't coming from the mainstream Democrats. Their message has been hijacked by the extreme Left. This is partly the Democrats' own fault for being unable to put together a coherent, respectable and defendable message of opposition. But when that fails, all that is left is the insane shouting from the radicals.
The real problem is that without a strong and reasonable opposition party, the toughest questions don't always get asked. If there is no reasonable opposition to speak of, solid alternatives are not presented. After the State of the Union, Ted Kennedy asked for another vote in Congress before an attack on Iraq. I disagree, but this is a reasonable request. It is a much more responsible action than running through the streets with posters calling Bush a terrorist.
The President has the support of the American people. He will lead a
"coalition of the willing" into Iraq regardless of a U.N. vote.
He has received support from the American Congress, Britain, Spain, Portugal,
Italy, Israel, Australia, the Czech Republic, Poland and others. If the
political Left wants to oppose him, they will need to break rank from
the extremes, and develop a responsible alternative. It is better for
their party and for the country.