Bush: War Without Angst
Bush has a hard sell on his hands: War without Angst. The President is on the difficult ground of FUD politics.
Speech at Ft. Bragg
In his speech last night from Fort Bragg, the President was the confident cowboy leading us as The War Time President. As it should be; as it must be.
Nevertheless, Bush is using a sales tactic that works with products . . . but is much more difficult with politics. IBM trained a generation of sales reps to eliminate FUD’s: “fear, uncertainty and doubt.” In the private sector, in business, this communication works.
Less so in the public sector. Selling war in America requires Angst, Worry, Concern, Reluctance, Victimhood.
As Victor Davis Hanson reminds us in his outstanding article The Politics of American War, there’s a huge gulf between the politics of war for liberal and conservative presidents:
To end the dictatorial and genocidal plans of Slobodan Milosevic, liberal Bill Clinton was willing to bomb downtown Belgrade, commit American forces to a major campaign without U.S. Senate approval and bypass the United Nations altogether. Few accused him of fighting an illegal war, contravening U.N. protocols, or cowardly dropping bombs on civilians. In all these cases, public opposition was pretty much muted, despite the horrendous casualties involved in some of these past conflicts.
George W. Bush, as a conservative President, however, will never be given such leeway. Why not? Because he doesn’t bite his lip:
. . .it is very difficult in general for a conservative to wage war, because the natural suspicion arises that his tragic view of human nature and his belief in the occasional utility of force, makes him seem to enjoy the enterprise far more than a lip-biting progressive, who may in fact order far more destruction.
So that’s what the President was up against last night. He is a President, who is, apparently, uniquely suited by temperament for eliminating FUD and waging a War Without Angst. Many of us think resolute words like these from his speech last night are his great strength:
. . .we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we’ll fight them there, we’ll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)
America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way, and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.
Audacity. Emphasis mine.
The proper response when confronting an enemy’s audacity is not retreat. And I, for one, am glad he didn’t bite his lip as he stated that human freedom is entrusted to us in a special way.
We must meet audacity with audacity. But ours is a Reasoned Audacity.