Kristol’s New Persuasion: Bush Will Be Seen As ‘Successful’ President

By: E&P Staff

At least he was the first to admit that many may react with astonishment. William Kristol opened his Washington Post column on Sunday with: “I suppose I’ll merely expose myself to harmless ridicule if I make the following assertion: George W. Bush’s presidency will probably be a successful one.”

He explains: “Let’s step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let’s look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil — not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy — also something that wasn’t inevitable.

“And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where — despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless “benchmark” report last week — we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.”

And here is his conclusion: “But can Bush maintain adequate support at home? Yes. It would help if the administration would make its case more effectively and less apologetically. It would help if Bush had more aides who believed in his policy, who understood that the war is winnable and who didn’t desperately want to get back in (or stay in) the good graces of the foreign policy establishment.

“But Bush has the good fortune of having finally found his Ulysses S. Grant, or his Creighton Abrams, in Gen. David H. Petraeus. If the president stands with Petraeus and progress continues on the ground, Bush will be able to prevent a sellout in Washington. And then he could leave office with the nation on course to a successful (though painful and difficult) outcome in Iraq. With that, the rest of the Middle East, where so much hangs in the balance, could start to tip in the direction of our friends and away from the jihadists, the mullahs and the dictators….

“What it comes down to is this: If Petraeus succeeds in Iraq, and a Republican wins in 2008, Bush will be viewed as a successful president.

“I like the odds.”

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