With a nod to David Letterman,
here are the top ten reasons we needn't worry that President Bush's
Iraq policy is politically motivated.
10. If invading Iraq had been
politically expedient, Bill Clinton would have done it.
9. War with Iraq anytime over
the next year would come too early to help Bush win re-election.
President George H.W. Bush attacked Iraq on January 16, 1991,
almost exactly two years into his first term, won the war by March
3, was hugely popular and considered unbeatable for re-election.
But during the 20 months between the war's end and the 1992 presidential
election, voters asked: What have you done for me lately?
8. The public already has evaluated
Bush's motives and found them trustworthy. In a September 13-16,
2002 Gallup poll, only 26 percent of Americans said President
Bush is taking action against Iraq now "mainly because it
might help the Republicans in this year's congressional elections."
Even a majority of Democrats said Bush is motivated by a desire
to protect the U.S. Gallup further reported: "...Americans
are not as generous in their feelings about the Democrats, however.
By a margin of 59 percent to 35 percent, they are more likely
to think that the reluctance of some Democrats to have a vote
on military action before the November elections results from
politics rather than a genuine desire to obtain more evidence."1
7. Presidents historically have
tried to avoid war talk before elections, not the other way around.
Case in point: Franklin Roosevelt's pledge to keep the U.S. out
of World War II, insincere as it might have been, helped him win
a third term in 1940.
6. Wars are risky. If this one
- which has more difficult objectives than the one his father
fought - doesn't go well, the voters will blame Bush. Bush's approval
ratings were as high as 70 percent in some polls in September.2
Politically, he doesn't need to take big risks.
5. The argument by opponents
of Bush that Bush's Iraq policy is designed to distract voters
from the Enron scandal is weak, since the voters aren't holding
Bush or the Republicans responsible for Enron. Key decisions in
the Enron collapse, in fact, were made in 1998, when Bill Clinton
was President and Monica Lewinsky was on page one. If the GOP
were suffering from the Enron scandal, they'd blame Clinton first.
4. Bush has remained steadfast
in his plans despite criticism from international capitals, many
Democrats and major media. A study by the Center for Media and
Public Affairs found that 72 percent of the coverage by the New
York Times and the three broadcast networks' news divisions was
critical of Bush's position.3 What politician would invite this kind
of criticism before an election unless he believes in the policy?
3. Support for regime change
in Iraq transcends politics and is longstanding. Case in point:
In October 1998, when Bush was still governor of Texas, the U.S.
House approved a bill providing $97 million to promote regime
change in Iraq by a landslide vote of 360-38. The U.S. Senate
passed it unanimously.4
2. Regime change in Iraq is
necessary. Hussein has devastating weapons; is acquiring more;
he hates America and is demonstrably willing to kill. Men and
women, children and even babies all have been killed by Hussein.
Bush wants to prevent more murders of innocents. Those who oppose
Bush's plan have yet to propose a better one.
1. Honorable men don't go to
war for selfish motives.
Amy Ridenour is President of
The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington,
D.C. think tank. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
1 David Moore, "Focus on Iraq Could Help Republicans
in November Elections," press release, The Gallup Organization,
September 19, 2002, downloaded from the Internet at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr020919.asp
on September 22, 2002.
2 "Bush's Popularity on the Rise: Polls See Approval
Rate of Around 70%," Associated Press, September 20, 2002.
3 "Media Knock Iraq Plans," press release, Center
for Media and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., September 9, 2002,
downloaded from http://www.cmpa.com/pressrel/Iraq2002PR.htm on
September 23, 2002.
4 Joel Rosenberg, "Flashtraffic: Political Buzz from
Washington," World magazine, September 21, 2002, p. 8.