Saturday, December 03, 2005


The Bush Iraq P.R. Machine Is Running Better, But Still Needs Work

In the last month or so, the Bush Administration has finally begun to strike back at the false claims of the opposition regarding the war in Iraq.

He rightly pointed out that over one hundred Democrats in the House and Senate bore witness, by their votes, to the fact that they agreed that Saddam had to go. And Vice President Dick Cheney's saying that while he "cannot prevent them [the Democrats] from losing their backbone, but will not allow them to rewrite history" was as well put as it was true. The President has also made a more concerted effort to outline the progress made thus far in Iraq. He has even begun to to tie the word Islam (extremist Islam that is) to the terrorism we are at war with. Deo Gratis!

While it is good that President Bush is finally responding to the terrorist collaborating rhetoric of the anti-war pigs {1} on the left, his P.R. effort in regards to Iraq still falls way short of the mark. I am not talking so much about the content (although I agree with Laura Ingraham, at least I think it was Laura Ingraham, who said that Bush ought to talk more about how our being in Iraq is making us safer at home) as I am about (a) the time factor and (b) the choice of venue he uses to convey his message.

As to the first, the times of day he has chosen to give his last few policy speeches have been, if I may be blunt, horrid. They have either been too early in the morning (even by EST) or too late at night. In both cases, most people miss hearing the speech in its entirety and are at the mercy of either the sound bites of the networks or the analysis of pundits as to what was said and what it means. And we all know how unmerciful the network nedia has been with providing an accurate picture of what's actually going on in Iraq. I think saying that that's not good enough wins the No s#&t, Sherlock Award hands down.

These speeches have to made in prime time so the maximum number of the American public hear it straight from the president first hand.

The second, and I think equally, if not more, important is the venue. The seriousness of this issue demands that the president's choice of venue properly conveys that seriousness. And the pep-rallyish venues he has chosen thus far don't fill the bill at all, to put it mildly. It appears as though he is speaking to the American people in a second hand way. And I think the American people naturally resent that on an issue as serious as the war on Islamo-facist terrorism (of which Iraq is the main front), as do I.

I believe the President needs to speak from the Oval Office in primetime (making his request for network time clear) directly to the American people.

He needs to clearly outline the progress made in Iraq, that while it is still a dangerous place, it is better and safer there now than it was prior to the war. He needs to repeat ad infinitum that America is safer today because of our presence in Iraq by pointing out that we have captured or killed more al Qaeda operatives in Iraq than anywhere else; and we have foiled many terrorist plots here in the U.S. due to the intelligence obtained from those captured.

Mr. Bush needs to continue to drive home the fact that many of the Democrats who are playing the "wrong war at the wrong time, at the wrong place" broken record are flip-flopping ala John Kerry from their original position. It would also be helpful to characterize our pulling out of Iraq at this juncture as a "surrender" {2} because that's exactly what it would be.

The President needs to keep hammering on the point that the Democrats attacking the Iraq policy for political gain only emboldens the terrorists and puts us here at home in greater danger. To this end, it sure wouldn't hurt to use Joe Lieberman's recent WSJ op-ed piece as a source for some of his talking points. Hoist the Democrats up on a Democrat petard I say.

Again, the importance of the venue cannot be stressed enough. The Oval Office, with all its majesty and historical significance, is the best venue in my view.

Recently Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) suggested that the President use the firseside chat motif, ala FDR during WWII to convey his message.

Now, it is not everyday that I find myself in agreement with the former Mr. Liz Taylor. He was, after all, part of the that stupid "gang of fourteen" that pulled the rug out from underneath the feet of the Senate Republicans trying to get rid of that hideous filibuster rule in the confirmation of judges.

But he has definitely put a much needed finger on the venue problem.

While this war has been unfairly and inaccurately compared to Vietnam, ala Ted "Senate Wet Brain" Kennedy's "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnaaaam." gin-soaked sloganeering, our failure in Vietnam taught us a valuable lesson that needs to be applied here in the war in Iraq: the profound effect public opinion has on prosecuting a war effort. I think Abe Lincoln once said that public opinion is everything in war. The lives of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent Americans and westerners depend upon Iraq NOT becoming another Vietnam viz. a P.R. failure.

And ensuring Iraq does not become such a failure is a grave responsibility that falls on the shoulders of President George W. Bush.


{1} This is something of a recapitulation of the Black Sabbath song War Pigs.

{2} It was either a guest or a caller to the Bill Bennet's Morning In America Radio show that suggested that Bush call premature withdraw from Iraq a "surrender".


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