Victor Davis Hanson writes about the election of 2004.
The revisionists kept repeating in this campaign that Afghanistan was lost to the warlords due to “taking the eye off the ball in Iraq” and “outsourcing” the fighting and thus losing bin Laden. George Bush ignored these second-guessing experts, assured the American people that, like our forefathers who won WWII, a much richer America could still fight and win two conflicts at once, and that bin Laden, in the manner of a Karadzic or Mladic, was a doomed man – his end a detail of when, not if.
The harpies shrieked that Saddam’s petrofueled barbarity was not connected with al Qaeda or even the larger wave of Islamic terrorism – as if, say, Aryan Nazis could not have had anti-democratic alliances of convenience with Asian imperialists in Japan; as if the first World Trade Center bombing, the North Africa killings, the career of Zarqawi, and the al Qaedists in Kurdistan were either nonexistent or irrelevant.
In response, George Bush maintained that Islamic fascism is global, fed by self-induced failures of Middle East autocrats, who hand-in-glove with terrorists diverted the frustration of the Arab Street against America – a hyperpower that is not, pace bin Laden, libertine weden but rather their worst nightmare. Autocracy is their illness, and emocracy, not American apologies, is their cure.
The administration maintained, without wavering, that those who were blowing up Americans in Kabul, or Baghdad, or Westerners in Madrid and Bali were of the same ilk. Their differences were the stuff of legalistic nit-pickers who might have equally parsed Mussolini’s fascism from Hitler’s Nazism or claimed that Mao’s Marxism so differed from Stalin’s Communism that the two could never have teamed up in Korea with yet a third wild-card totalitarian.
George Bush – through the beheadings, the kidnappings, Abu Ghraib, the hysteria of a Richard Clark, Joe Wilson, Anonymous, Rathergate, the 9/11 Commission, CIA rogue analysts, cheap European slurs, insane remarks from Walter Cronkite to Bill Moyers, and last-minute media fabricated “scandals” – has never faltered, so confident was he in the exceptionalism of America and the unshakeable resolve and competence of the U.S. military.
Most of the American people, of course, agreed all along.