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Jewish World Review Jan. 18, 2002 / 5 Shevat, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Dubya & the 'vision thing' -- POLITICAL entropy is everywhere evident. The centrifugal force of random issues is coming to exceed the gravitational pull of the Bush administration's focus on the war on terror.

Congress lines up to investigate the Enron collapse. The Senate is hoping to smear President Bush with the callous and disgusting greed of his friends. The patient's bill of rights rears its head as Democrats try to move to Bush's left on health care.

Sen. Ted Kennedy and others call for a rollback of the tax cut, blaming it for deficits. The stimulus package - or the lack of it - dominates mutual recriminations on Capitol Hill.

The good news is that American life is returning to normal. The bad news is that our politics is also.

In his memoir of the Ford administration, Henry Kissinger articulated the central dynamic of governing: "A statesman's duty is to bridge the gap between his vision and his nation's experience. If his vision gets too far ahead of the experience, he loses his mandate. But if he hews too close to the conventional, he loses control over events."

Bush is confining himself "to the conventional," and he is surely losing "control over events."

Enron, health care, recession, stimulus debate, tax-cut rollbacks - these are symptoms. The disease is that Bush is hesitating at a fateful point in his personal history, in the war on terror and in his administration.

Some say, move around the world and arrest terrorists. They argue that these al Qaeda cells are still deadly. They counsel against bold new missions - for example, Iraq - saying that it will cost us allies.

But busting a terror cell in Singapore, herding in terrorists based in the Philippines or arresting suspects in Spain will not hold the attention of America. It will never provide enough gravitational pull, enough gravitas, to keep control over events.

Do we sit up and take notice when the DEA seizes a huge drug shipment? Are we thrilled when a cache of cartel money is confiscated? Do we remember? Do we even really care?

The momentum, mobilization and mission 9/11 brought to America must not be allowed to dissipate. It would be a sin to let it vaporize in a series of mundane, everyday police actions around the world.

The fire ignited in each of our souls by the attack on America must remain bright even as the fires in the pit at lower Manhattan are extinguished.

The goal of the war on terror must be to deter the terrorists and heighten the sense of commitment to something extraordinary and important that each American feels in his heart and soul.

President Bush must lead America to a dramatic and all-embracing Phase II in the war on terror. We stand ready to follow him as we have not prepared to follow any political leader since FDR. But he must seize the moment or forever lose it.

The obvious next step is to topple Saddam Hussein. A move in Iraq would send a signal that no terrorist regime could possibly ignore. It would kindle a dynamic in the Middle East which would tame Hamas and calm Israel.

Peace would become possible as the diminished expectations of the aggressors would interact with the heightened sense of security of the victims.

Accountants must not be permitted to run the war on terror. If the war is an effort to round up al Qaeda cells only - and we must, at least, do that - then we are not in a war, we are rounding up suspects after a crime.

If we go systematically to remove or change all the regimes that harbor terrorists, then we will have done something lasting for civilization.

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, The New Prince. Comment by clicking here.


01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine
01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris