Monday, March 28, 2005

Democrats in the House of Representatives and beyond have made no secret of their desire to unseat House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — and for good reason.

Rarely has Mr. DeLay’s position been occupied by a man who more effectively fulfilled the two roles defined by its title: (1) An ability to reflect the views of the majority, not just in “the people’s house,” but across the country.

(2) And a true capacity to lead not only the sometimes fractious members of his own caucus but, with impressive frequency, to build bipartisan support for positions he shares with President Bush.

Arguably, these qualities are most in evidence with respect to matters about which Tom DeLay cares passionately — the safeguarding and expansion of freedom around the world. Throughout his 21 years in Congress, the majority leader has demonstrated a commitment to the philosophy Ronald Reagan called “peace through strength.” He has coupled this worldview with a steady determination to advance it through policies and necessary expenditures that enable the United States to resist regimes and terrorist organizations that threaten our security, and to support the peoples they oppress.

Mr. DeLay generally receives far too little credit for his two decades of leadership in these areas. At a time when his partisan enemies intensify efforts to bring him down, it is useful to remember the courageous security policy stands the majority leader has taken over the years — and why the U.S. must not be denied his leadership at this critical juncture.

• The War on Terror: On Aug. 21, 2002, Rep. DeLay reminded the House of Representatives about the nature of the present conflict and what it will take to prevail in it: “The most important step in the war against terrorism wasn’t our defeat of the Taliban or our disruption of al Qaeda. Following years of temporizing, obfuscation and avoidance, the critical turning point in this conflict was President Bush’s decision to focus moral clarity on the real threats facing America. He said you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. And by boldly defining this battle accurately and properly, President Bush won broad support from the American people. They understand what’s at stake. And they enthusiastically back the president’s aggressive campaign to destroy the coalition of terror before it strikes again.”

• Liberation of Iraq: On Feb. 10, 2004, Mr. DeLay spoke to critics of the decision to topple the Iraqi dictator: “Saddam Hussein was Iraq’s weapon of mass destruction, and he had to be removed. … We did the right thing. And we’d do it again.”

• The case for Israel: On July 23, 2003, the House majority leader declared: “Terrorism and freedom can’t coexist. I know the truth of that statement seems self-evident, but its consequences are not small for our nation or our allies. It means the United States could be at war for the rest of our lives. It means the violent enemies of civilization will never have another peaceful night’s sleep as long as they live. And it means Israel’s war on terror is identical to our own.”

• Cease-fires not the answer: The terrorist networks must not be pacified, but destroyed. There cannot be and will not be lasting peace until Palestinian terror ends. Our nation can never forget that the point of the peace process is the peace… not the process.

The importance of a bipartisan security policy: On Sept. 24, 2003, Mr. DeLay noted the commitment to encouraging freedom is a principle that has transcended politics in the past — and should continue to do so. “There was a time when Democrats like John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt spoke with moral clarity about evil in the world, and the responsibility of the United States to fight that evil with all of the strength of a great and mighty nation. Today, that kind of moral clarity may be voiced around the dinner table by millions of loyal Democrats, but it would be booed at their presidential debates.

“Rather than confronting this ugliness — this consuming anger translated into a reckless political agenda — too many leading Democrats have walked away from the legacy of FDR and JFK: a legacy millions of Democrat voters still support.”

• Communist China and Free Taiwan: On April 3, 2003, at Westminster College — site of Winston Churchill’s famed “Iron Curtain” speech — Mr. DeLay warned forcefully about the Communist Chinese threat to freedom: “In Asia, the world’s most populous nation holds its people hostage beneath a brutal blanket of oppression. The potential free exchange of ideas, honest elections and the recognition of basic human rights so frightens the unelected rulers in Beijing, that they quash it at every turn. … Through intimidation, force, and fear, they demand obedience and order to their repressive ideology.

“But just across the Taiwan Straits, stands a harbor of freedom … There, on a tiny island, 23 million Taiwanese bravely resist a constant barrage of threats from Communist China. They stand firm against a repressive regime that shackles and silences over a billion people on mainland China.”

Finally, last Dec. 21, Mr. DeLay responded to those assailing administration security policy professionals with a line that applies as well to partisans who would bring him down: “The frenzy of criticism now hounding President Bush’s national security team is unwarranted and ill-timed: It says much more about the critics than it does about the criticized.”

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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