- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

It is amusing to watch liberals try to explain away the recent upswing in President Bush’s approval rating, from around 39 percent to 47 percent. Sure enough, they’ve figured a way to attribute the turnaround to a validation of their positions rather than his policies.

They are promoting the idea President Bush’s rise in popularity is due to his admission of “mistakes” on Iraq. But this is merely wishful thinking.

Ever since Mr. Bush attacked Iraq, Democrats have castigated him for doing so and for how he’s handled the operation every step of the way. After all, their best political hope is either we fail in Iraq or, if we succeed, they can somehow taint the effort from its inception by showing he lied to get us into an unnecessary and costly war.

Their persistence finally paid. Treated to almost exclusively negative reporting from the mainstream media (MSM) along with the Democrats’ ceaseless naysaying, the public grew nervous about the war and lost some confidence in Mr. Bush.

Alas, the worm is turning. Despite all their propaganda to the contrary, the burgeoning Iraqi constitutional republic in the heart of the Arab Middle East — as a direct result of the president’s policies — is a profoundly positive development.

And to the Democrats’ and MSM’s everlasting frustration, President Bush has stubbornly refused to admit he lied about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) for the simple reason he didn’t. So what are these poor liberals to do when things are starting to go north for Iraq and Mr. Bush and south for them?

Well, one option would be to admit they were wrong. They’re particularly fond of demanding the president admit his mistakes. So why don’t they just concede he wasn’t lying about WMD and that his vision for Iraq appears to be paying off?

That would render them even more irrelevant and further diminish their political prospects. A better solution for them would be to pretend the president’s turnaround vindicates their policies rather than his.

How can they pull that off? Simple: Just portray his recent speeches as mea culpas on Iraq and appropriate his renewed popularity for themselves. It’s sort of a clever conversion of the adage “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” to “If you can’t beat him, pretend he joined you.”

As Exhibit A for the liberal prosecution, I cite the recent “Meet the Press” episode during which Tom Brokaw opined that “one of the reasons the president’s doing better in the national polls” now is he’s admitting his “mistakes” about Iraq.

As Exhibit B, see the Dec. 29 story in The Washington Post reporting that President Bush’s upsurge is due to a two-pronged strategy of “lash[ing] out at war opponents in Congress” and his adopting a “humbler assessment of events on the ground in Iraq that included admissions about how some of his expectations had been frustrated.”

As Exhibits C through ZZZ, I refer you to numerous TV and radio programs in which liberals have echoed the theme Mr. Bush is now admitting his mistakes concerning Iraq.

Nonsense. The president has never claimed personal inerrancy. He has just refused to admit he lied about WMD or was wrong to have gone into Iraq, even knowing what we now think we know about their WMD.

As Exhibit 1 for Mr. Bush’s defense, I offer his Dec. 19 press conference where he was gratuitously asked, on the heels of the historic Iraqi election, to name his biggest mistake.

He noted he refused to take the bait the last time the question was asked because he believed the MSM were trying to get him to admit it was a mistake to go into Iraq. President Bush said, “And it wasn’t a mistake to go into Iraq. It was the right decision to make.” He went on to discuss other decisions involving Iraq, some of which might have been mistakes and some of which probably weren’t.

It’s rather pathetic for Democrats and the MSM to argue the president’s rising poll numbers can be traced to his acknowledging errors. It’s not as if the public has been sitting around stewing about his alleged stubbornness. If a disinclination toward repentance caused a president’s popularity to decrease, President Clinton would have been the least popular president in history.

No, President Bush’s popularity is returning because his Iraq policies are bearing fruit and he is fighting his partisan accusers in a systematic and sustained manner. The public is finally hearing him defend himself with well-earned righteous indignation. It’s a beautiful thing.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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