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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Iran So Far Away, Part 8

Monk contemplates the news
from Washington, circa 1997

Chefjef adds some more dry tinder to that bonfire of the vanities we're calling the Iran debate.

I agree with most of your points, Monk. However, I think maybe you your affection for the President (whom I don't hate, by the way - no repairs were needed in the old house when he won his second term (hahaha)) has allowed you to give him too much slack in regards to my comment.

Glad to hear that you don't hate Bush. I meant those references jokingly. And, of course, I didn't hate Clinton either. Really. We just had to replace the carpet in a few corners where I'd chewed on it...

Nonetheless, I had hoped to make clear in my original long response that I do fault the president for his failure to communicate. I think the failure reflects both his upbringing as a statesman (as I mentioned, Bush Pere was very enamored of secrecy; he was DCI, after all) and his personal lack of talent as a communicator (He avoids it when possible because he's uncomfortable with it). That does not absolve him of responsibility to communicate what's at stake and communicate it well. This is a fundamental failure of his Administration. I think many things President Bush and his team are doing are correct, but they are not being communicated at all -- much less well -- and that failure is undermining the larger war and foreign policy efforts. Influence operations and the strategic communications campaign are huge parts of this war, but they're being ignored, or at least mishandled, by a bunch of folks who ought to know better. They need to take a page from their political enemies, the Democrats, who are superb at crafting influence and then peddling it. I think some of Republican reluctance to do so derives from the subliminal feeling of many senior Republicans that selling their cause is somehow disreputable because the Democrats do it unashamedly.

So...I don't cut Bush as much slack as you think. I am very frustrated by and apparent unwillingness to explain the vital stakes and very legitimate strategic choices that face us in this war. If we lose, it will probably be due to loss of support from the electorates of free nations and the fault will lie upon squarely on Bush's head. If we sullenly withdraw behind our own borders like we did after Vietnam and wait for a nuke event in Houston or Seattle that will make NO look like a summer picnic in comparison, and then go on a savage, rage-filled tear that rips islam apart, "millions will die who did not die before" (to use my latest obscure Star Trek reference), and I will curse the day we elected DubyaChimpler every bit as much as the Kossaks do now.

Back to Chefjef:

You are absolutely right when you said,

"the reasons we are doing what we're doing are legitimate and important. The stakes are too high to risk failure because of a bad public affairs campaign. The anti-war hate-America crowd is beginning to sense that it can win. If it wins, our civilization loses. And if it loses, we and our allies had better get used to catastrophes like New Orleans, because they'll be a lot more common."

The problem is, you see the Prez as the "guy ont the stump speech" in 500 B.C. That's not his role. In mortal terms, his role is God, and he has a duty to [find] an Aaron if he can't do it himself.

While I agree with your larger point, I don't agree with your characterization of the president's office as being equivalent to God's in microcosm. I think he is much more directly analogous to Moses: a leader enjoying some degree of divine sanction (cf Rom 13:1-2 and 1 Pet 2:13-14), chosen to lead a people. We hope he can help lead them in a Godly direction, despite their own inclinations, much as Moses did. So Bush is in a sense an analog of Moses and his need to communicate is just as urgent. Fortunately for Moses, he didn't have a hostile Establishment press to deal with. BTW, I mis-typed the date and didn't catch it: we should be talking about 1500 BC, not 500.

The Prez (any modern U.S. President, not just Bush) is the most important, most influential person on the planet and his responsibilities and duties include not allowing a "bad public relations campaign" to cause our "civilization to lose" in a situation where "the stakes" could be a "catastrophe." That was my point. The stakes for not just us, but the world, are too high and his position is too pivotal for anybody to even consider - be it Bush or had it been Gore in his place - that " it's unfair to criticize the president for being 'slow of speech and tongue.'" Negative soldier. If he were a congressman, a general, the CEO of Chevron, even the Secretary of State (maybe), then I'd agree with you. But he is the President of the United States and this is one of the gravest times in our history.

I agree. Part of his job while occupying the Bully Pulpit is to be able to preach from it. Otherwise, it's useless.

If his "slowness of tongue" may possibly play a part in helping the "anti-war hate-America crowd... beginning to sense that it can win....[and]... [I]f it wins, our civilization loses[,]" then he damned well better start working - on his own time - (instead of taking month long vacations) to improve the skills he should have developed during his family-financed years in the Ivy Leagues, or in the alternative find his own Aaron, be it Cheney, Rummy, or whomever he trusts, to get the gosh darn job done.

I think he works very hard at it and has managed to do a passable job on occasion (as at the National Cathedral after 9-11 and during the Repub. convention last year), but he lacks the talent to be consistent without tremendous coaching. I think we're to the point that he needs to find a figurative Aaron - a comprehensive strategy for influence and strategic communications that overcomes our adversary's center of gravity: the Establishment press. And no, that doesn't mean I think we should undermine freedom of the press; just that the Administration needs to change the terms of debate and get its message out in ways that subvert, bypass, undermine, and/or change the message that the public is getting through traditional sources.

It is his fundamental responsibility to be "pom-pom mom" for our involvement in Iraq and its place in larger puzzle of the War on Terror [BTW, I think you misunderstood "pom-pom mom".... pom-pom mom is the parent who promotes the welfare of the football team by speaking to groups and individuals about the importance of being involved and by keeping everyone informed of what's going on. For example, Hillary was Bill's pom-pom mom for health care reform (or was it the reverse!). My point is that on issue as important as you have mentioned - our whole civilization being "lost" - part of the government's role includes a pom-pom mom function in relation to the electorate.]

I did misunderstand the meaning of your phrase. Yes, I think "pom-pom mom" (or dad) is certainly part of the president's job description.

At any rate, it's good to see folks adding their thoughts and observations.

Before reading the Veep's comment, I believed that Monk was correct - as usual - that we need to pray for our leaders regardless of like or dislike. However, I was also struck by the juxtaposition of how so many individual Christians and Christian groups have called for the need to pray for our leaders regardless of how you feel about them, since Bush was elected, and how few of those people and groups - were there any[?] - who made the same pronouncements when Clinton was around.

They should have...and bad on any of us who didn't. These two presidencies should offer a lesson to Christians of every political and cultural stripe: no politicians are as bad or as good as we think / feel / want / expect / demand that they are, but all are part of God's plan and deserve our prayer and, ultimately, politics doesn't matter.

That type of hypocrisy - there's that word again - (and no, I'm not speaking of you Monk, you are quite a consistent fellow) is what causes some folks on the left, and some non-Leftists who are non-believers, to pay little attention to folks on the Right when they speak about supporting our leaders no matter what, and unfortunately, also causes some of those people to pay little attention to Christians when they speak about the far more important issue of Salvation.



Amen. Couldn't have said it better myself. And anyone reading this entire thread should take the fact that I haven't always lived up to the standards we've discussed here as an example of human frailty, not as a weakness of the standard itself. It is always easier to know the truth than to live it.


: Chefjef asks, "DCI? That's a new one for me. What is it?"

Sorry for the confusion. I speak Acronymical Governmentese at work and so sometimes fail to mentally switch between it and English. DCI: Director of Central Intelligence. The dude what heads the CIA.


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