- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

President Bush’s speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., Tuesday should be the first in a series of regular addresses to the nation on the Iraq war. The president made the case for perseverance and emphasized the imperatives of staying the course, the dangers of withdrawal and the perils our enemies wish upon us. “Is it worth it?” he asked. “It is worth it, and it is vital to the security of our country,” he answered. That’s a message Mr. Bush should be conveying more often.

Recent poll data show that the public, though generally skeptical, agrees that staying the course in Iraq is necessary. It’s time that the president reinforce their instinct with regular speeches. Mr. Bush urged Americans not to lose “our heart, our nerve” at a time of testing, which is the right message the country needs from its chief executive. “We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens,” he remarked, “and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won,” he said to a round of applause from the audience of 750 servicemen.

He cited Osama bin Laden’s judgment that the “Third World War” is raging in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war,” Mr. Bush noted bin Laden as saying, and that bin Laden thinks the war will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

Quite properly, Mr. Bush exposed the faulty logic Sen. Edward Kennedy and other proponents of withdrawal are currently advancing, labeling withdrawal “a serious mistake.” “Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out,” he said. All of which the public instinctively grasps, and grasps all the better when the chief executive confirms it.

The public responds best to President Bush when it is he, not others, who explains his policies. That’s especially true given that the media is likelier to report bad news than the good and seems to alternately downplay or wholly ignore evidence of progress coming from Iraq. Who better to deliver the good news and to shape the debate than the chief executive ultimately responsible for the war? The effects of regular addresses to the public about Iraq, as well as the overall war on terror, could only be positive.

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