- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How upset elite Washington must have been yesterday after President Bush finished delivering his speech on Iraq at the Naval Academy. With notable exceptions, nearly every Democrat — and, sadly, not a few Republicans — have spent their autumn attempting to disassociate themselves from what they perceive to be failure in Iraq and a president experiencing the lowest approval ratings of his term. Yet if any expected Mr. Bush to join in, they were wonderfully disappointed. The president rose above the cynical politicking and spoke directly to both Americans and Iraqis, while telling Congress to knock it off.

If not his best speech on the war, Mr. Bush gave a very timely and important one. Iraqis head to the polls in two weeks to vote for a permanent government, buttressed by 23,000 more U.S. troops and an Iraqi army that is beginning to stand on its own. All of which has gone unnoticed in Washington, where lawmakers convince Iraqis of their commitment by voting on timetables for a U.S. withdrawal.

“We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory,” Mr. Bush said, which some might consider to be a euphemism, if anyone else in Washington besides the president and his staff had the guts to say it.

Although billed by the media as some sort of statement of strategy, the speech presented nothing new to those who have been paying attention. The president’s explanation of the situation on the ground, so to speak, was nonetheless welcome. His description of the enemy as being comprised of three basic groups — rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists — is especially important in a war against a shadowy foe. Americans must understand that our soldiers are not facing a unified resistance, but rather a disjointed collection of murderers.

Predictably, Democrats criticized the speech because, in the words of Sen. Harry Reid, the president “missed an opportunity to lay out a real strategy for success in Iraq.” We direct the senator to the White House’s 35-page “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” released just before the president spoke, and await his appraisal.

It’s naive to think that the president’s speech finally shut the door on the Democrats’ autumn of insincerity. But it did signal to Americans and Iraqis that the commander in chief has no intention of listening to what Mr. Reid and his colleagues say anymore.

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