by Patrick J. Buchanan – May 21, 2002
We need to raise the tenor of the debate in Washington and place national security interests before party interests.
The alacrity and glee with which Democrats and their Big Media allies piled on President Bush – over the leak that he had been alerted to an al-Qaida sky-jacking plot in August – suggests something else is afoot here, other than righteous indignation.
And it is. The president’s enemies have been seething with jealousy and resentment at his 90 percent approval ratings. They are terrified his poll numbers could translate into a Republican sweep. And they have been waiting for a chance to strike and wound him, and bring him down to earth. Now the White House has given them that chance, and it has only itself to blame.
Instead of withholding the fact that the president got an al-Qaida alert in August, the White House should have put it out. No one is going to blame President Bush for not connecting all the threads from intelligence agencies that might have enabled some brilliant detective-analyst at the FBI or CIA to discern what was up.
Intelligence analysis is not the president’s job. But his job is to keep the confidence of the people that he is not withholding what they have a right to know. The president has been hurt far more by the perception he may be hiding something than he would ever have been had he given that information to the public.
A congressional investigation into why the FBI, CIA, DEA and other agencies missed this elaborate plot to crash airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when clues abounded from Phoenix to the Philippines, is necessary. If America is going to fight a war on terror and, as the War Party insists, effect “regime change” in half a dozen nations, we are going to be targeted for terror as long as we live. And given the sums U.S. taxpayers have invested in agencies to keep an eye on our enemies, we should have known far more than we did about the most murderous anti-American terrorist clan of them all, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida.
Having said this, let me add: What is going on in this city today has less to do with what President Bush was told last August than it does with the resentment and rage of the left at how President Bush has converted himself from the butt of their jokes into a leader who has won the heart of the nation. Before 9-11, they had called him an illegitimate president and an amiable dunce. Hence, they were astonished when President Bush seized the reins of leadership to guide the nation to victory in the Afghan war.
But the unity America has known since 9-11 is over. The president’s enemies have the scent of blood in their nostrils once again, as they did in 1973 with Richard Nixon and in 1987 with Ronald Reagan.
This is not to say President Bush is in the same peril, but it is to say the left and the Big Media, still smarting over what was done to Clinton, will not hesitate to do the same to him. Republicans never seem to learn. No matter how much they appease this city, this city sees conservatives as an illegitimate and a mean-spirited lot that has no business in their White House.
The Hun is always at your feet or at your throat, Churchill said of the Germans. Well, in this city, the left and Big Media are always at a Republican president’s feet, or at his throat. Right now, seeing a stumble, they have sprung for the throat of George W. Bush.
Consider how differently they treat their own. While there is no evidence President Bush knew a major attack on America was imminent, FDR did suspect something. He had issued secret orders to sink German U-boats on sight – an act of war. He had cut off Japan’s oil. He had rejected a Japanese offer to meet him anywhere in the Pacific to avoid war. He had told the Brits and Dutch that if Japan invaded their colonies, America would join the fight. He had broken Japan’s diplomatic code and had in hand, the night before Pearl Harbor, 13 of the 14 parts of the Japanese reply to his ultimatum of Nov. 25. “This means war,” FDR said.
Gen. George Marshall was out horseback riding in Rock Creek Park when frantic aides tried to find him to send word to Honolulu that war was imminent. There are reports the British had broken Japan’s naval code and knew that a huge Japanese task force was crossing the North Pacific, steaming toward Hawaii.
When Japan struck, Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short were scapegoated, reduced in rank and relieved of command, as the great cover-up commenced. Yet the same leftists now piling on President Bush would find it unpatriotic and near treasonous to suggest their hero – who had zero reputation for truthfulness – might have known more than he let on.
The left has always given its own a pass for sins for which it would readily lynch a leader of the right. Republicans never seem to learn.