As the country prepares for President Bush’s speech tonight, I can’t help but wish I was going to be surprised when I watch it. The contents of Bush’s plan have already been reported by every news source, and a million blogs (he made mistakes, he’s sending more troops). However, the kind of surprise I wish for is a return of rhetoric that we can rally around. Where has the rhetoric gone?
The dictionary says rhetoric is “the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively”. However, the word “rhetoric” is often used negatively in our country, when complaining about insincere politicians. What I’m talking about is a different kind of rhetoric. The kind that is used as a tool for war, or rather, as a battlefield.
You can look at almost any quote from Iranian president Ahmandinejad, and video released by Al Qaeda, any press release from CAIR, and see their use of rhetoric, and its results. The radical Islamics see the U.S.’s lack of rhetoric as weakness. They don’t respect reverence or holding one’s tongue (especially when its to appease pacifists).
Its a tool the enemy has used for a long time, and one we used effectively via Churchill during WWII. One of many examples of effective wartime rhetoric from Churchill:
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
Researching President Bush’s quotes, the last time we heard any war time rhetoric from him was back in July:
“We’re engaged in a global struggle against the followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom and crushes all dissent, and has territorial ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims. … And against such an enemy there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in and we will never accept anything less than complete victory. … We will defeat the terrorists and their hateful ideology by spreading the hope of freedom across the world. … The security of our nation depends on the advance of liberty in other nations.”
President George W. Bush
July 4, 2006
We can only hope that President Bush will return to this tool of war, and realize that its not only our enemy who need to hear from him right now.
On a related front…Daily Pundit seems to believe the lack of rhetoric is on purpose:
I think that Karl Rove may be doing some orchestrating here. I don’t think he’s the political genius some do (if he were, Plamegate would have died, stillborn), but this one is an easy catch. Bush was planning on skedaddling from Iraq before 2008 anyway, since it has long been obvious that Iraq cannot be pacified without taking on Iran and Syrian, and Bush, for whatever reason, has no intention of doing so.
Now come the Democrats bearing gifts on silver platters. I expect that Bush is pushing a surge because he knows it will inflame and harden Democratic opposition, and as a result the Democrats will force Bush (kicking and screaming, oh my) into withdrawing from Iraq. Bush will end up with what he wants – Iraq no longer hung around the Republican Party’s neck like a rotting albatross going into 2008 – but the disaster in Iraq that will follow withdrawal will instead be hung around the Democratic party’s neck.
Like a noose.
Which will all be well and good, except for the disastrous medium and long term consequences for the United States itself.
Ouch. Tune in tonight.
ADDED: From a Gay Patriot commenter:
First, there is something deviously Rovian about the surge strategy.
The Surge strategy boxes in the Democrats, since they have only three alternatives: 1. They can reluctantly fund the surge, thus betraying their anti-war base. 2. They can oppose the Surge, but fund current levels, in which case critics can legitimately accuse the Democrats of leaving our troops in Iraq without giving them the resources to win. 3. The Democrats can force a withdrawal, and be rightfully blamed for losing the war.
Of course, there is a fourth option, the Democrats can put forth a strategy for winning the war. But this will not happen because Victory is not in the Democrat vocabulary.