Steyn: Two-Gun Tex didn't have to fire a shot, merely stand back and let his opponents shoot themselves in the foot - or possibly a little higher up. : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread

Dubya does it his way By Mark Steyn (Filed: 10/11/2002)

Well, if he is an "arrogant cowboy" he's got a lot more to be arrogant about. Within the space of 60 hours this week, George W Bush pulled off an amazing double, stacking up impressive victories in both the US elections and the UN Security Council. In both cases, Two-Gun Tex didn't have to fire a shot, merely stand back and let his opponents shoot themselves in the foot - or possibly a little higher up.

In the summer, Mr Bush said he didn't need congressional approval to go to war with Iraq. Congressional Democrats huffily insisted that he did. So Bush said fine, have a vote and let's see where you stand. Likewise, he said he didn't need the approval of the UN. The windbags of "the international community" huffily insisted that he did. So Bush said okay, you guys take a vote, too.

It's not just that Two-Gun Tex called their bluff but that he played them off against each other brilliantly, going to the UN just before the congressional vote to give the Democrats a little multilateral cover, and then whumping the Dems just before the UN vote to remind Chirac and co that, while he may be an arrogant swaggering moronic cowboy, there ain't gonna be a new sheriff in town for another six years.

So, after weeks of French obfuscation and veto preening, the Associated Press reported that "a breakthrough in negotiations came Thursday". Thursday, you say? Amazing. Wonder why that was.

Whether or not Mr Chirac intends to take the UN resolution seriously, Mr Bush expects him to. From New Hampshire to Florida to South Dakota, the President campaigned forcefully for Republican candidates on a handful of consistent themes: on the domestic front, making the $1.3 trillion tax-cut package permanent, and allowing workers to invest a portion of their social security taxes in the stock market; on national defence, establishing a real Homeland Security department; and on foreign policy, Iraq.

In other words: these are the things that will happen. When the President returns to New Hampshire in 2004, he'll be talking about something else, because the tax cuts will be permanent, the Homeland Security Department up and running, and Saddam and his four favourite lookalikes will be sharing a retirement condo over Robert Mugabe's garage. (Memo to the Butcher of Baghdad: that's a best-case scenario, by the way.)

After this week, it may be time for the President's disparagers to get some new insults. It's true there are a lot of dumb shoot-from-the-hip gunslingers on the right: I'm one myself - I wish he'd taken Baghdad in the spring, and told the UN to go screw 'emselves. But that's not the Bush style. He doesn't rush headlong into gunfights at the OK Corral, he corrals folks until they say they're OK about the gunfight: that's what he's done with Congress, and the American people and Blair and Putin and Chirac and the Chinese.

So I have the opposite problem with Mr Bush from The Guardian and Le Monde: because he's insufficiently trigger-happy, I underestimated him. When his judicial nominees were bottled up by Democrat obstructionist ideologues, I wanted him to do to Vermont Senator Pat Leahy what Clinton did to Newt Gingrich: destroy the guy. Instead, Bush looked at a handful of vulnerable Democrat Senate seats in Missouri, Minnesota and elsewhere, and slyly moved them into play.

The result is that the judiciary committee is now back in Republican hands, and Senator Leahy's got a one-way ticket on the oblivion express. Mr Bush has destroyed the guy without ever having to say a word about him. Meanwhile, all the states the Dems specifically targeted - from Florida to New Hampshire - are more Republican than ever. I was wrong. The Bush way is more effective.

In similar fashion, Mr Bush has chosen to disarm Saddam by first disarming the Democrats and then the international community. Now the hope of the Saddamite appeasers is that Iraq will submit to the UN sufficiently non-risibly to enable a new inspections regime to go through the motions and string things out until spring, at which point war will be impossible because US troops would be bogged down in the searing desert heat.

(The brutal Iraqi summer is this year's insurmountable meteorological obstacle, a worthy successor to the rapidly approaching horrors of "the brutal Afghan winter", which by my reckoning is currently 14 months behind schedule.) It won't happen. The deadlines in the resolution are a box not for the US but the UN: they effectively put an expiry date on the credibility of the "international community".

In Texas, in 1994, Bush was only the second Republican Governor in 130 years and pretty much the party's lone star in an overwhelmingly Democrat state. With Bush gone, the Texas Dems figured the natural order would be restored. Instead, on Tuesday they were trounced up and down the ticket: the Senator, Governor and Lieutenant-Governor are all Republican, the Grand Old Party strengthened its grip on the state Senate and took control of the House away from the Democrats for the first time since 1873.

That's to say, Bush effected real, long-term political change in Texas. On Tuesday, he did the same across America. In the next couple of months, he'll make it a hat-trick in Iraq.

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2002


IMHO, some of this comment is true and some of it is nutty.

I think Bush vs. the U.N.'s natural chicken-shit inclination is absolutely on target. The way Bush has handled the U.N. has been superb in my judgement.

On the other hand, calling Texas an overwhelmingly Democratic state before he came on the scene is nothing short of a laugh riot.

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2002

I don't think it was Bush that caused the Republic take over in the elections, I think it had to do with what the people wanted. Fortuitously, our president was aware of what we wanted while the Democrats were not.

-- Anonymous, November 10, 2002

I believe Steyn is a Canadian. The article was in the London Telegraph. Gives a bit of perspective.

-- Anonymous, November 10, 2002

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