- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

The brouhaha over President Bush’s gentle use in his campaign ads of images of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks both saddens and enrages.

It saddens because it happened too conveniently and therefore is suspect. If Democrat political activists can persuade people who lost loved ones on September 11 to turn their grief to crass political ends, they have all dishonored the victims of September 11, belittled their own humanity, and tried to put the nation at risk during wartime.

Such tactics put in stark relief the fact political parties have no character of their own. A party’s leaders give it its soul and animate its virtues.

The Democrat Party of 2004, embittered by its legitimate defeat in 2000, is bent on regaining power by any means, including assassinating the character of a so-far successful wartime president. It is enraging that the party’s leaders refuse to rein in their zealots but instead have joined them.

Using cheap-shot political tactics isn’t new. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, some Republicans asserted Franklin Roosevelt, or should have known, about it before it happened.

In 1944, some Republicans groused that the D-Day invasion was timed to coincide with their nominating convention. They also questioned whether President Roosevelt had the right to call himself a soldier because, after all, he had never served in the armed forces and was only the commander in chief.

Roosevelt countered those charges with the following words in a letter to Democrat Party Chairman Robert Hannegan before their convention: “We of this generation chance to live in a day and hour when our nation has been attacked, and when its future existence and the future of our chosen method of government is at stake. To win this war wholeheartedly, unequivocally, and as quickly as we can is our task of the first importance.”

This statement shows that in 1944 the Democrat Party had, as the Chinese say, the “mandate of heaven.” In Chinese history, a dynasty gained legitimacy when the people came to believe it had the will and character to maintain itself justly and to uphold the national interest.

In 1944, World War II was more than half won. The danger of defeat still lurked, and an untried hand could have lengthened the war and put victory in doubt.

That’s about where we stand now in the war on terror. Mr. Bush has shown that, unlike Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry, he is willing to take the battle to the enemy on the basis of military necessity, not temporize on the basis of legalistic whim or fatuous reliance on the United Nations.

For eight years, Mr. Clinton made no effective effort to counter numerous terrorist strikes against American lives and property, both here and abroad, or to rally the people to the danger at hand. Osama bin Laden has even intimated that September 11 was a direct result of Mr. Clinton’s lackadaisical stewardship of the nation’s security.

Even if Mr. Bush had wanted to go after bin Laden before September 11, there would likely have been insufficient public support for the fight. September 11 changed that. Now, like FDR, Mr. Bush has assumed the mantle of statesman in the fighting and winning of this war. To complete this task, he needs a second term.

In the upcoming campaign, the Democrats, aided and abetted by the establishment media, will use the war, the economy and any other available issue, legitimate or contrived, to try to persuade the American people Mr. Kerry deserves to defeat our current commander in chief, who has already vanquished two terrorist states on the battlefield, liberated 50 million people, crippled al Qaeda, and up until now avoided or prevented another strike on our shores long after September 11.

On the political side, Mr. Bush’s faith in the Iraqi people has been justified to this point. On March 8, through their representatives, they ratified an interim constitution that will be the foundation of a permanent governing document.

Mr. Bush, like our Founding Fathers and most presidents to date, understands the rights and liberties that give a government legitimacy come from God and rest with the people. Therefore, he could afford to have as much faith in the Iraqis as he does in us.

The state of our economy is always a concern, but prosecuting the war on terror, as FDR said in 1944, is our task of the first importance. Victory will secure jobs, just as our victory in World War II did, and will alleviate deficits and boost the stock market.

Victory also will secure a future worth having for all of us and heal the wounds of the war on terror. God and God’s history will sanctify the suffering of September 11 only if our response to it is brave, successful and just.

If the Democrats persuade the public to adopt their priorities instead of Mr. Bush’s, we will again test the truth of the adage that God takes care of fools, drunkards and the United States.

William Goldcamp is a diplomatic historian and a former intelligence analyst. Nancy Goldcamp, his wife, was an analyst and an editor.

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