As I suggested yesterday, this year’s presidential election is difficult to handicap for several reasons. One reason is that this is the first such election to occur (or, more precisely, to be recognized as occurring) in the age of terror. Tony Blankley, in the Washington Times, hopes that the election will therefore bring about a “rational and focused debate” regarding how President Bush has performed in three key areas: running down terrorists, eliminating threats from rogue states, and making reasonable progress on homeland security.
Blankley finds that, right now, there is not enough publicly available information to assess Bush’s performance with respect to running down terrorists and enhancing homeland security. Blankley argues that Bush has made significant progress with respect to all states that were reasonably suspected of having the capacity and the potential desire to transfer WMD to terrorists except for Iran and North Korea. He further contends that Bush has initiated reasonable diplomatic initiatives with respect to those two states.
I share Blankley’s hope that we can have a rational debate about the matters he describes. However, Bush seems to face a threshold problem, namely a perceived lack of credibilty. Unless and until he overcomes that difficulty, a rational debate (or at least a debate that is judged rationally) cannot really occur.
HINDROCKET demurs: It seems to me that we know quite a bit about how many terrorists have been run down, and the number is extremely impressive. Homeland security is, of course, murkier, but one thing we know for sure is that there have been no major terrorist attacks in the U.S. since September 2001. Any rational debate has to begin with that fact. While one can argue about how much credit the administration should get for it, it is not rational to deny that putting three-quarters of al Qaeda’s leadership out of commission and destroying that organization’s bases and training centers in Afghanistan has been helpful. The problem, I think, is not a lack of information, but rather that the administration is inept at making arguments. Let’s see whether this changes now that the campaign is underway.
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