By Tony Blankley
There is a repulsive conversation going on in Washington
at the moment. Journalists, un-named Pentagon officials and many
politicians are discussing, as if true, the precise method by
which President Bush intends to exit from Iraq in time for the
midterm elections next year.
future events will reveal me to be naive (not a charge usually
posted against me). But for the record, I do not believe that
President Bush is cynically looking for an exit strategy. However,
most of the Washington political class clearly believes he is
planning to pull troops out of Iraq in the next three to eight
months for political, rather than military reasons.
politics is not for Sunday school teachers. And a country cannot
properly be led by people who don't have a practical understanding
of human nature in all its often tawdry cynicism and self-interest.
A worldly appreciation of these human attributes is always a necessary
part of leadership.
is a vital difference between understanding that cynicism exists
in the world and succumbing to it. And it is the signature attribute
of second-rate leaders, courtiers and second-year college students
(sophomores) that in their effort to appear worldly, they embrace
cynicism. No aspiring wise guy wants to appear naive. Washington
journalists are particularly driven not to appear naive.
opposite of being naive is not to be cynical -- it is to be wise.
And the essence of wise political leadership is to remember and
cling to the true ideals of one's country. A great leader understands
that his or her leadership is not about him, it is about the country.
All our greatest leaders (from Jefferson to Lincoln, to FDR to
Reagan) were deeply practical and political men who nonetheless
never forgot that the larger reason the nation had raised them
on high was not to advance their career -- but to deliver the
nation to a higher place.
It is well
to remember that cynicism started as a Greek philosophy named
after the word kynikoi -- dog-like (apologies to all the wonderful,
uncynical, loyal dogs of the world).
It was a
negative form of aggressive individualism that arose with the
collapse of the political structures of the Greek world, and questioned
the collective values, standards of decency and institutional
rules of that crumbling world.
If you listen
to today's Washington cynics, you would think we were living in
a crumbling society without purpose or hope. How despicable it
is to contemplate the underlying assumption of this cynical portrayal
of President Bush looking for an exit strategy before the 2006
elections. One would have to think that he -- and Congress and
the media -- are more concerned about the results of an off-year
election than they are about the death and wounding in battle
of our fine young soldiers: that they care more about their political
skins than the national interest of the country.
honorable people can argue that getting out of Iraq is in the
national interest (obviously, I strongly disagree with that argument).
But to assume that the timing of the exit is for electoral expediency
is something very different -- and very evil. If President Bush
were to actually make such a calculation (which I refuse to believe
he would), then it would undercut every reason for his starting
the war in the first place. If he thought that the war could still
be concluded successfully but he is willing to accept failure
by leaving prematurely if it will save a few House seats, there
would be a deep place in Hell for such a man.
Yes, I understand
that the anti-Bush lefties always thought that. I don't care what
those lost souls think. But if decent people who have supported
President Bush begin to buy into this deeply cynical mischaracterization
of his calculation, they do him and the country a terrible disservice.
of a pre-election exit strategy, which is talked about so matter-of-factly,
will give our fellow citizens and the people of the world the
impression that President Bush (and we Americans in general) really
are such low beings as to think and act in such a despicable way.
It would make us contemptuous in the eyes of any decent person.
It would put blood on our hands and suggest a dark void where
our souls should be.
let's robustly debate whether we are doing more ill than good
by staying in Iraq. I argue we are doing much more good. But President
Bush should demand an apology from any politician or journalist
who suggests that his calculations are electoral rather than substantive.
If any of his aides are suggesting such things on background,
they are profoundly misguided. Whatever the president's failings
and shortcomings (and we all have them), he is no cynic. It is
the deepest possible slander against his character. Glibly repeating
this electoral calculation only adds further cynicism to a world
that is almost drowning in such false thinking.
2005 Creators Syndicate