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I've been giving the matter of the Warner amendment considerable thought this afternoon, after reading a number of CQ commenters at lunch and listening to Hugh Hewitt in the way home. While I still think that the idea of getting Bush out in front on the war has its merits, one part of this has me convinced now that it was the wrong way to go about it.
They waited until Bush left the country to do it.
Now that, frankly, I missed when I first started writing this morning. If the Senate GOP wanted to send a message to the White House, the leadership should have had the courtesy to wait until the current occupant was home. Bush left for an important trip to China, where he especially needs to appear to be in charge of events back home. The GOP move could have waited for Bush to return, when they could have discussed the political ramifications with him. Right now, it just shows tremendous disrespect to do it while he's away.
This still underscores how poorly this administration has communicated our victories in the war. Rumsfeld grumbled today that he has sent the Senate hundreds of updates in reports that he suspects no one has read. That's not the point. The American people aren't reading these reports -- they're waiting for their President to talk to them directly about the war, on a regular basis.
How many nationwide addresses has Bush given from the Oval Office on the war? How many stump speeches has he given in towns, schools, and mall openings to talk directly to the people? These efforts aren't a distraction from war; they're a vital part of the war itself, and it's time that the administration finally figure that out. Without the American people on board, this effort will collapse, and that support doesn't stay up by sending progress reports to Senate staffers in DC. We have long warned the White House that they need to get better as mass communication on this issue, and they have only just started responding, and only to the extent that Bush's personal integrity got called into question.
Overall, though, Hugh is right. Passing this amendment while Bush travels outside of the country on an important foreign-policy tour amounts to little more than a sucker punch instead of the wake-up call that I believe the GOP caucus sincerely meant it to be.Sphere It View blog reactions
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