Another Bush speech – Junod

InstaPundit pointed to Tom Junod’s Esquire piece, “The Case for George Bush” . This is blue state territory–journal, audience, writer. Junod contrasts his contempt for Bush with his respect for the principles in the president’s speech to the Air Force Academy. And he begins to doubt that cynicism, that dissing Bush really helps all that much. This is another good speech in which Bush lays out, if we want to see, the principles by which he acts. And I feel vindicated in my affection for Bush’s much earlier speech disussed in the post beow.

Junod begins with the assumption that Bush is, well, pretty weak man. But, he has come to recognize it is Bush who noticed the tectonic shifts going on in our world. Of course, a red stater, I occasionally winced as I read the essay. But this is bracing. Because Junod appears honest with himself, we can talk. In the end, he discriminates between what is real and what is not. He also does a lot of historical analogies and betrays a nice sense of proportionality.

Small criticism: He uses a final analogy that doesn’t work all that well. Bush hasn’t gone around crying wolf. In fact, he has been faulted for not crying wolf enough in the summer of 2001. The truth Junod is getting at isn’t all that well served here. But all of us do that at times, trying so hard to make our perspective real, grasp at comparisons that don’t work. Junod is clear and we see him thinking; that is important. If it is on the level of reality that the next months will be fought, we will all be better for it.

10 thoughts on “Another Bush speech – Junod”

  1. Ginny, I apologize for the above post. I didn’t see your post on the Junod speech until after I’d posted. I’ll see if I can get Jon to delete mine.

    Great minds think alike!

  2. Freddie — do you mean are we better off than before they killed 3,000 Americans? We’re at war. We were before, too, but we didn’t know it. Do you think that if we ignore the Islamic fascists, they’ll just go away and leave us alone? Let me remind you that we tried that after the 1993 WTC attack. It didn’t work out very well.

    The only question you need to answer is whether you are going to deal with the facts set before us. Life can be brutal sometimes, and sometimes we have to be brutal ourselves. If that comes as a shock, just stay in your room until the grownups sort it out.

  3. “Are we better off?” .. typical party line BS.

    I would like everyone to know that I for one am better off. Tax cuts on capital cains and dividents increased the value of my assets. I am more wealthy and moved into a nicer apartment. Job market is pretty good now as well. I am very happy.

    4 years ago I was angry that a talking tree was in the running for the presidency… now I’m only a little worried Gomer Pyle will be elected

  4. Junod’s article is one of the rarest of things – someone’s asking himself in a serious and uncompromising way “Am I wrong?” I respect his intellectual honesty and moral courage. What motivates him to ask the question? I believe that, unlike almost all other liberals, Junod is still enough in touch with the genuinely human to be attracted to the moral conviction that President Bush projects.

    Liberals claim that the contempt they have for the President is generated by their belief that, in the case of the Iraq, he either deliberately lied or unforgivably blundered the country into war. Liberal Junod seems to have concluded, but can’t quite bring himself to admit, that this is just not true. To wit: “What haunts me is the possibility that [liberals] can’t abide [Bush] because of us — because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.” Later, and with genuine trepidation that it might be the truth, Junod further suggests liberals might have “settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction — because it’s easier than conviction.”

    Needless to say I believe that what Junod fears might be true about liberals actually is true. This is why, while what President Bush says and does causes the liberal but honest Junod to fear he might be wrong, nothing the liberals say or do causes me (I hope as honest with myself as Junod is with himself) to fear I might be wrong about supporting the President. Despite himself, Junod must admire and respect where Bush is “coming from.” I find no compulsion within myself to reciprocate when it comes to where liberals other than Junod are “coming from.”

    Nevertheless, out of respect for Junod (respect both for him and for where he’s “coming from”), permit me to make a few concessions. While no liberal has done so, one might make a respectable case that taking down Sadaam was not the best Act II for the War on Terror (Act I being the defeat of the Taliban). Clearly, the American Intelligence Community failed us on Iraq, and, perhaps, both the Administration and Congress (as Sylvain has argued) should have looked with much more skepticism on what that Community was telling them. Also, the President could have been more forthright will all of his goals for Iraq, i.e. that he wanted to unseat Sadaam not only to remove the threat he and his supposed WMD’s posed but also so that we could have a base in the Middle East from which to pre-empt al Qaeda et al. and from which we could begin the democratization of the Middle East, in the long-run, the only true cure for the “root causes” of Islamist terrorism.

    What’s more Junod is no doubt correct that the President would be better served if he didn’t seem to relish the fight so much and if he displayed a more of Lincolnesque sense of the tragic. Please understand: I’m not saying that the President is someone who “loves the smell of napalm in the morning,” nor do I believe he lacks a sense of the tragedy of war. It’s just, poker-face businessman that he is, I believe he believes he should not show any reluctance for the fight. Perhaps, he should, and, if he did, he might, as Peggy Noonan has suggested, close the gender gap. (BTW, I think the President’s background in business is also why he finds it so hard to admit mistakes, however forgivable they may be. Still, personally, I prefer Bush’s reticence to Clinton’s apologies du jour, but I digress.) We must, however, never make the perfect the enemy of the good. For all of his faults, actual or conjectural, George Bush looks at the world as a President ought to look at it post-9/11, and his mistakes, actual or conjectural, are those of a President who looks at the world as it should be looked at post-9/11.

    Anyone who cares to cut through the Boston baked bean bunk sees that John Kerry does not look at the world as a President ought to look at it post-9/11. His vision of the world is somewhere between Bill Clinton’s and Jimmy Carter’s, and his mistakes would be those of a President who looks at the world in that way. Let’s see what’s worse – “mistakes” that lead to the liberation of a country from tyranny and the promise of democracy in the heart of the Middle East or mistakes that lead to the expansion of tyranny and terrorism (i.e. 1979 Iran, 1980 Afghanistan, 1993 WTC attack, 1996 Kobar Towers attack, 1998 east Africa embassy bombings, 2000 USS COLE bombing, and, for the most part – eight years vs. eight months – 2001 WTC destruction and Pentagon attack)? Duh!

    Whoever wins in November, the terrorist wolf, as Junod rightly claims, will still be out there. George Bush may be guilty of a few good faith false sightings that, for the most part, have not made us worse off. The point is, he’s both looking for the wolf and knows the wolf must be eliminated, and, that’s why liberal, but close to the kingdom, Junod knows in his heart that Bush is right. It’s also why all the other liberals hate him (i.e. Bush and, after the article, perhaps, Junod too).

  5. In all seriousness, what is the case for George W. Bush? If it takes a liberal to do it, something is seriously wrong.

    This election will be a referendum on George W Bush, pure and simple. John Kerry will be a bystander and his campaign is probably playing it just right: don’t take a position on anything, it’s not about you.

    But as somebody who is seriously contemplating voting for the Libertarian party candidate because Bush is going to win my state regardless, I want to know from him where he is going, because I just don’t know at this point. And while I rail against the liberal media all the time, there is enough alternative media out there that his message and grand plan should be available for those who go looking whether it’s from Rush Limbaugh, Foxnews or the internet.

    But I don’t know where he’s going and it’s not from lack of trying to find out. Here’s some questions I’d like answered:

    1) The organizing principle of the Republican party (somewhat) and conservative (vs. neo-conservative) doctrine in general over the past 25 years has been that of low taxes, small government (i.e. lower spending), less regulation, strict Constitutional construction, and peace through strength.

    Where do you stand on these issues? I don’t know, but I am beginning to think that he would answer all of these questions just like his dad, except for the taxes one. Unfortunately Jr seems to think Sr lost the ’92 election because he broke his promise and raised taxes. What actually happened was that Sr abanoned most of the Reaganite principles that he was elected to continue but didn’t believe in. Those people either stayed home or voted for Pero. But none of them campaigned hard for him and they didn’t get out the vote in a way that they could have.

    2) Why is the US government taking it’s largest percentage of GDP since World War II? Spending on the War on Terrorism only explains part of it. Useless, growth destroying departments like Agriculture, Education and Energy have gotten huge increases, departments which the original “Contract with America” had vowed to eliminate. I understand that it’s politically difficult with the slimmest of margins in the Senate to cut programs like these when you are trying to fund a war. But doubling the budget of the department of Energy (which produces no energy)? I’d like to hear a rational explanation of that.

    3) Fine, you’ve made these mistakes, what are you going to do about them? What departments are you going to push to eliminate in your second term. If your answer is zero, John Kerry can do that. So far your considering adding one. That’s going backwards.

    4) Why did you deceitfully push through a massive give-away to the richest demographic in the country that will cost future generations trillions of dollars? Did you think this would buy you votes with the AARP crowd? How’s that working out? Were they greatful? Are you actually going to leave this dead weight around our necks for perpetuity?

    5) Why have you not cast a single veto in 3 1/2 years? Even FDR who had overwhelming majorities in both houses vetoed legislation all the time. This implies that you agree with the pork barrel, drunken sailorish ways of the Congress.

    6) What IS the plan in Iraq, and the War on Terror in general? I don’t know, and it’s not for lack of looking everywhere I can to find out. I understand that anything you tell the American people you also tell our enemies and that’s fine. But at least an overview at some point would be nice.

    The charge that Iraq has diverted attention from the War on Terror in other areas needs to be refuted. Can you?

    I have firmly supported every effort of the Bush administration thus far in the war on terror, without knowing the covert details or needing to. But at some point I do want to know. Maybe that time isn’t yet, but for all of the people who accuse you of dishonesty and baser motives, I have no amunition to defend you and I am done trying. At very least a promise that when this is all over everything will be revealed. Can we at least do that?

    That’s a long list and I won’t hold my breath. Until then I’m goingto have to find out who the Libertarian party’s presidential candidate is and if he’s on the ballot in my state.

  6. I forgot to mention:

    7) Free trade: What is you position? Steel, Lumber, shrimp (shrimp?) tariffs just to name a few. Free trade is something that you either beleive in or you don’t. Do you think steel workers are now going to vote for you? How about the hundreds of thousands of people who had to pay more for their cars, appliances, houses, etc. because of your tariffs, or did you hope that nobody would realize?

    To paraphrase Alcoholics Anonymous: The first step to eliminating trade barriers is stop creating new ones.

    8) I know you cut taxes twice, but do you actually know WHY you are supposed to cut taxes? Hint: it’s not to put more money into consumers pockets, which doesn’t actually create anything in itself. That’s a dead philosophy called Keynsianism. The correct answer is that it leaves more money in the hands of those who save and invest, creating capital which is the lifeblood of economic growth. I understand that most people don’t have the economic background to grasp this, but I’ve never even heard it explained to people who do.

    Do you also understand that whether you get the money from taxes or borrowing doesn’t really matter, every dollar the government spends has to be diverted from somewhere else. The vast majority of the time that “somewhere else” will be a more productive use than the one the government will use it for. Reagardless it’s all just circling around the same dollars, not creating anything and probably losing something in the process.

    Do you also understand that deficit spending does not stimulate growth, but simply moves water from one end of the pool to the other?

    Sorry, I’m on a roll.

  7. Junod’s admission of crying ‘wolf’ reminded me of this Lilekism:

    “Planetary collapse is always right around the corner. Perhaps it is – but one of the reasons I’m innured to the nightmare scenarios is because I’ve heard them all my life. They’re the boys who cried wolf every day, even as wolf skins were worn by the village elders, wolf-steaks served for supper, wolf-heads used to scare off other wolves, and wolf-blood used to make wonderful vaccines that prevented lycanthropy. Yes, we have made great progress. BUT A WOLF COULD KILL US ALL ANY DAY!”

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