Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why We Need A Draft

Why We Need a Draft: A Marine’s Lament
He was in the firefights of Fallujah. He saw gaps in America's arsenal that he believes can only be filled when America's elite puts its sons on the battlefield. A plea for selective service.

Web-exclusive commentary
By Cpl. Mark Finelli
Updated: 11:20 a.m. CT Aug 28, 2007
Aug. 28, 2007 - “Maybe we would have only lost those three instead of 13,” I thought to myself on a dusty Friday in Fallujah in early November 2005. I was picking up the pieces of a truck that hours before had been blown apart by an IED, wondering why our equipment wasn’t better and why three more Marines were dead. Ramadan had just ended, the period in which a suicide bomber gets double and triple the virgins for killing himself in the name of jihad, and my weapons company, Second Battalion Second Marines, had lost 13 men in the last two weeks—not from firefights but from roadside bombs likely being imported from Iran. The insurgents were ramping up their technology, and here we were in the same old trucks. At least these didn’t have cloth doors like the ones last year. But seriously, was this the best technology we have?

Just then I noticed a big vehicle driving by, one owned by a private contracting company. This thing made our truck look like a Pinto in a Ferrari showroom. It was huge, heavy, ominous, indestructible. I wanted to commandeer it. I wanted to live in it. If only we were in one of those, I would definitely come home, and a lot of the guys who won’t would too. As it passed I stared at what I would later learn was called the MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush Protective Vehicle). I never thought I would see something in Iraq that enticing, but there it was, rumbling past in all its glory.

I looked at my platoon sergeant. “Staff sergeant?”

“Yes, Finelli?”

“Why are the private companies driving around in these things and not the Marine Corps?” He looked at me and gave the universal sign for money, rubbing together his thumb and forefinger. And suddenly, I understood. It became clear on that November Friday in Fallujah that America’s greatest strength, economics, was not in play. A sad realization.

According to the Pentagon, no service personnel have died in an MRAP. So why isn’t every Marine or soldier in Iraq riding in one? Simple economics. An MRAP costs five times more than even the most up-armored Humvee. People need a personal, vested, blood-or-money interest to maximize potential. That is why capitalism has trumped communism time and again, but it is also why private contractors in Iraq have MRAPs while Marines don’t. Because in actuality, America isn’t practicing the basic tenet of capitalism on the battlefield with an all-volunteer military, and won’t be until the reinstitution of the draft. Because until the wealthy have that vested interest, until it’s the sons of senators and the wealthy upper classes sitting in those trucks—it takes more than the McCain boy or the son of Sen. Jim Webb—the best gear won’t get paid for on an infantryman’s timetable. Eighteen months after the Marines first asked for the MRAP, it’s finally being delivered. Though not nearly at the rate that’s needed. By the end of the year, only 1,500 will have been delivered, less than half the 3,900 the Pentagon had initially promised.

It’s not hard to figure out who suffers. The 160,000 servicemen and women in Iraq are the latest generation of Americans to represent their country on the field of battle. And like their predecessors, they are abundantly unrepresented in the halls of power. As a result, they’ve adopted what I find to be a disturbing outlook on their situation: many don’t want the draft because they believe it will ruin the military, which they consider their own blue-collar fraternity. They have heard the horror stories from their dads and granddads about “spoiled” rich officers. Have no doubt: there is a distinct disdain for networked America among the fighting class of this country. When a politician would come on TV in the Camp Fallujah chow hall talking about Iraq, the rank-and-file reaction was always something like, “Well, I am blue-collar cannon fodder to this wealthy bureaucrat who never got shot at and whose kids aren’t here. But I know I am making America safer, so I’ll do my job anyway.” And they do, and have been for the last three and a half years, tragically underequipped but always willing to fight.

The real failure of this war, the mistake that has led to all the malaise of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was the failure to not reinstitute the draft on Sept. 12, 2001—something I certainly believed would happen after running down 61 flights of the South Tower, dodging the carnage as I made my way to the Hudson River [I worked at the World Trade Center as an investment adviser for Morgan Stanley at the time]. But President Bush was determined to keep the lives of nonuniformed America—the wealthiest Americans, like himself—uninterrupted by the war. Consequently, we have a severe talent deficiency in the military, which the draft would remedy immediately. While America’s bravest are in the military, America’s brightest are not. Allow me to build a squad of the five brightest students from MIT and Caltech and promise them patrols on the highways connecting Baghdad and Fallujah, and I’ll bet that in six months they could render IED’s about as effective as a “Just Say No” campaign at a Grateful Dead show.

On a macro level, we are logistically weakened by the lack of a draft. It takes six to seven soldiers to support one infantryman in combat. So, you are basically asking 30,000 or so “grunts” to secure a nation of 26 million. I assure you, no matter who wins the 2008 election, we are staying in Iraq. But with the Marine Corps and the Army severely stressed after 3.5 years of desert and urban combat in Iraq—equipment needs replacing, recruitment efforts are coming up short—you tell me how we're going to sustain the current force structure without the draft? The president’s new war czar, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, essentially said as much earlier this month, when he announced that considering the draft “makes sense.”

Of course, the outcry was swift and predictable. America has rejected selective service before, though always in the guise of antiwar movements. But they should really be viewed as antidraft movements, and they existed, en masse, when the wealthy could buy their way out of serving—as Teddy Roosevelt’s father and his ilk did during the Civil War, or as countless college kids did during the deferment-ridden Vietnam conflict. Not every draftee has to be a front-line Marine or soldier, but history shows us that most entrepreneurial young men, faced with a fair draft, almost always chose the front. A deferment draft, however, is a different story, and ultimately counterproductive because of the acrimony it breeds. By allowing the fortunate and, often, most talented to stay home, those who are drafted feel less important than what they are asked to die for. At the end of the day, it was this bitterness that helped fuel the massive antiwar movement that pushed Nixon to end the draft in ‘73.

I don’t favor a Vietnam-style draft, where men like the current vice president could get five deferments. I am talking about a World War II draft, with the brothers and sons of future and former presidents answering the call (and, unfortunately, dying, as a Roosevelt and a Kennedy once did) on the front line. That is when the war effort is maximized. Quite simply, the military cannot be a faceless horde to those pulling the purse strings of our great economy.

The draft would even hasten a weaning away from foreign oil, I believe, if more Americans felt the nausea that I do every time I go to the pump and underwrite the people who have nearly killed me five times. This war on the jihadists needs to be more discomforting to the average American than just bad news on the tube. Democracies at war abroad cannot wage a protracted ground operation when the only people who are sacrificing are those who choose to go. This is the greatest lesson of my generation. Young Americans: you may not want to kill jihadists, but they are interested in killing you and your loved ones. Wake up.

Cpl. Mark Finelli is an inactive, noncommissioned Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq from July 2005 to February 2006. He is currently writing a book about surviving 9/11 and fighting in Iraq.

Are Military Moms The New Soccer Moms in 08'?

Military Moms May Be a Force at the Polls

By Anne E. Kornblut and Michael D. Shear
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; Page A06

MANCHESTER, N.H. One of the foremost experts on politics in the Granite State thinks she has found the next critical constituency: military moms.

"She would typically be a Republican who is not against war and is not necessarily against this war -- or at least may have supported it when it began," Jennifer Donahue, senior adviser for political affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, said over sodas at the Red Arrow Diner last week.

The military mom -- who has either a child or a husband who is serving -- is disenchanted with the war. The question is: Will she shift allegiance to support a Democrat, or is she looking for an independent-minded Republican?

She is " the swing vote," Donahue said. Especially in New Hampshire.

One need look no further than down the counter at the Red Arrow to find a military mom, Elaine Boule, the manager, who lost a brother-in-law to the war in Iraq and is about to abandon her lifelong pattern of backing Republicans to support a Democrat, possibly Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

That is typical, Donahue said: The military mom "would probably vote for a candidate who she thought would have credibility on foreign affairs, so that on the Democratic side is most likely to be Hillary Clinton." Most polling shows Clinton far ahead on the question of experience. She also scores an advantage among women generally -- and her campaign strategists think she will draw even more women, including Republicans, once voting begins.

Still, a Washington Post-ABC News poll in April found that more women in military families had already rejected Clinton outright (48 percent) than had women in nonmilitary households (34 percent).

As she watches the campaign unfold, Donahue, a former television producer who moved into academia after the 2000 presidential race, said she is noticing other distinct trends in New Hampshire that are not necessarily being reflected at the national level.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) still has support in the state, she argues, and may be able to pull off another expectations-defying stunner despite his national decline. His biggest challenge? Keeping independents -- who make up 44 percent of the state's electorate -- in his camp. In New Hampshire's open primary, independents can vote in either contest, which means that McCain is likely to be battling Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for unaffiliated voters in January.

Republican former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is having a hard time conveying his "mayor of September 11" persona in the state, she added. "The argument up here that [the] Giuliani-equals-9/11 response doesn't seem to be getting across, in part because he hasn't campaigned here all that much," Donahue said. "But it's really because you don't get asked just one thing at the town hall meetings in New Hampshire. You get asked 25 things. So if you have a good answer on one question it doesn't get you home. You have to answer the other 24. And he's vague on certain things."

So, who's winning? "You have to be really careful," Donahue said, recalling that a week before the 2000 primary, Bush strategist Karl Rove told her that the Texas governor would win the state by 10 points (he lost by 18). "Most New Hampshire voters decide in the last week before the primary -- especially independents, who tend to decide in the last weekend before the primary," she said. "So anything that's happened so far is significant, but nothing that's happened so far can't be changed."

Front-line lessons from the Iraq surge

Front-line lessons from the Iraq surge


Wednesday, August 29th 2007, 4:00 AM

While American politicians bicker among themselves from eight time zones away about whether the surge led by Gen. David Petraeus is working or not, I returned to Iraq to see for myself.

This trip - from which I returned this month - was my fourth reporting stint in the country since the conflict began. And this time, what I saw was overwhelming, undeniable and, like it or not, complicated: In some places, the surge is working remarkably well. In others, it is not. And the only way we will know for sure whether the tide can be turned is to continue the policy and wait.

I know that's not what many Americans and politicians want to hear, but it's the truth.

On my first stop, I embedded with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Graya'at area of northern Baghdad. There, the soldiers live and work in the city 24 hours a day. Their sector has been so thoroughly cleared of insurgents that they haven't suffered a single casualty this year. I walked the streets without fear and met dozens of genuinely friendly and supportive Iraqi civilians, who greeted the soldiers like friends.

The hitch is that Moqtada al-Sadr's radical Shia Mahdi Army has infiltrated the Iraqi Army unit that shares the outpost. American soldiers are training them while their comrades kill American soldiers elsewhere in the country.

Meanwhile, Shia militias are expanding and consolidating their rule in other parts of the capital. American soldiers patrol the Hurriyah neighborhood, for example, but many locals credit the Mahdi Army with being the real peacekeepers in the area.

Progress in Baghdad is real, but it is not, or not yet anyway, the kind of peace that can last.

It's worse in Mushadah just north of Baghdad, where I also went with American soldiers who are training Iraqi police forces - which have been infiltrated by Al Qaeda. The area is so dangerous that the police refused to leave their station until an American woman, Capt. Maryanne Naro from upstate Fort Drum, showed up and shamed them by going out herself.

According to Naro, our convoys are hit with improvised explosive devices every day. I was ordered not to leave my vehicle for any reason unless something catastrophic happened to it.

Elsewhere in Iraq, though, progress is extraordinary and unambiguous. I spent a week in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which just four months ago was the most violent place in Iraq. Al Qaeda had taken over and ruled the city through a massive murder and intimidation campaign. Even the Marine Corps, arguably the least defeatist institution in America, wrote off Ramadi as irretrievably lost last August.

Then, local tribal leaders and civilians joined the Americans - and helped purge the city of every last terrorist cell. Violence has dropped to near zero. I have photographs of Iraqis hugging American soldiers and of children greeting us with ecstatic joy, as though they had been rescued from Nazis. The Marines are even considering going on patrols without body armor.

What worked in Ramadi might not work in Baghdad. The Mahdi Army's relative moderation, compared with Al Qaeda's brutality, prevents it from being rejected by the entire society. But this much cannot be denied: There are powerful winds of change in Iraq, and not enough time has passed to determine how they will transform the country.

Want to know if the surge will succeed or fail? There is only one thing to do: Wait.

Good News In Iraq - but not for Democrats

Jeff Jacoby
Good news, but not for Democrats
By Jeff Jacoby | August 29, 2007

IT'S A WAR, and it's the Middle East, so glad tidings can go sour and there are never any guarantees. But for all the caveats, the news from Iraq has been heartening.

For months, observers have been crediting General David Petraeus's "surge" with remarkable progress on the ground. That message has come not only from longtime supporters of the war, but from some tough critics as well.

Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, analysts at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, jolted Washington with their July 30 op-ed column, "A War We Just Might Win." Eleven days later, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which had long pronounced the war a misbegotten disaster, radically revised its view. "The US military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe," journalist Ullrich Fichtner reported. So much so that the outcome the Bush administration "erroneously predicted before their invasion -- that the troops would be greeted with candy and flowers -- could in fact still come true."

More good news came just this week in a breakthrough announced by Iraq's top Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish politicians. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and the Kurdish regional president, Massoud Barzani, are joining forces on legislation to settle some of the thorniest issues bedeviling Iraqi politics, including a national oil policy, an easing of de-Baathification, and the release of certain detainees.

For most Americans, positive developments in Iraq are very welcome. But good news is bad news for the Democratic left, where opposition to the war has become an emotional investment in defeat. House majority whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina was asked by the Washington Post what Democrats would think if Petraeus reports next month that the war is going well. "That would be a real big problem for us," Clyburn candidly replied.

The intensity of the left's determination to abandon Iraq was reflected in the reaction to a single line in Hillary Clinton's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars last week. "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq," she said, referring to the surge, "and in some areas, particularly al-Anbar province, it's working."

That mild comment instantly drew fire from Clinton's Democratic rivals. John Edwards's campaign manager, David Bonior, warned her against "undermining the effort in the Congress to end this war." New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, another presidential hopeful, piled on: "The surge is not working. I do not give President Bush the same credit on Iraq that Hillary does." When Barack Obama addressed the VFW one day later, he stuck to the defeatists' script. "Obama Sees a 'Complete Failure' in Iraq," The New York Times headlined its report on Aug. 22.

Within 48 hours, Clinton was scurrying to toe the all-is-lost line once again: "The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution. It has failed. . . . We need to . . . start getting out now."

Page 2 of 2 --Since 2002, Clinton has been all over the lot on Iraq. She defended George W. Bush's claims on WMDs. She opposed setting a timetable for withdrawal. She voted yes on authorizing the war. She voted no on funding the troops. We likely haven't seen the last of her shape-shifting.

Clinton is hardly the only presidential candidate prepared to say whatever it takes to get elected or to retreat under pressure from her party's hard-liners. But it is worth pointing out: There is a principled alternative.

Consider Brain Baird, a liberal Democratic congressman from Washington state. He has opposed the Iraq war from the outset, and still believes, as he wrote in a Seattle Times column on Friday, that it "may be one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our

nation." But having recently come to believe that the new military strategy is working and premature US withdrawal would be disastrous, he is speaking out in support of staying the course. Naturally he is being denounced on the left; one influential blogger calls him a “Bush dog” and "Dick Cheney’s trained monkey" and a crowd of angry antiwar constituents berated him during a townhall meeting Monday night. (“We don’t care what your convictions are,” said one. “You are here to represent us.”) The heat is unpleasant. But Baird is standing his ground.

That is what John F. Kennedy called a profile in courage, and it is troubling that there are no such profiles among the Democrats running for president this year. JFK was elected at a time when Americans could trust his party to confront international threats with resolve. That changed after Vietnam, where the Democratic left insisted on defeat and got its way, only to lose voters' trust on national security for a long time thereafter.

Today the left insists on defeat in Iraq. It beats up any Democrat who strays off-message. It treats good news from the front as "a real big problem." Is that any way to win an election? In the short term, maybe. But we're in the midst of a long-term war -- one that Americans don't want to lose.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Poverty in America?

Poor Politics
Edwards’s poverty “plague” examined.

By Robert Rector

The Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty in America tomorrow. The report will show, as it has in recent years that around 37 million people live in official poverty. Presidential candidate John Edwards, who hopes to lead the nation in a new crusade against poverty, will, no doubt, seek to reap much publicity from the report.

In the past, Edwards has claimed that poverty in America is a “plague” which forces 37 million Americans to live in “terrible” circumstances. According to Edwards, an amazing “one in eight” Americans lack “enough money for the food, shelter, and clothing they need,” caught in a daily “struggle with incredible poverty.”

However, examination of the living standards of the 37 million or so persons, the government defines as “poor,” reveals that America’s poverty “plague” may not be as “terrible” or “incredible” as anti-poverty crusader Edwards contends.

If being “poor” means (as Edwards claims it does) a lack of nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, then very few of America’s 37 million official “poor” people can be regarded as actually poor. Some material hardship does exist in the United States, but, in reality, it is quite restricted in scope and severity.

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:

46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100-percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally well-nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But, even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have “enough” food to eat, while only two percent say they “often” do not have enough to eat.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR, or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all of the nation’s poor: There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. A third of “poor” households have both cell and land-line telephones. A third also telephone answering machines. At the other extreme, approximately one-tenth of families in poverty have no phone at all. Similarly, while the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.

Much official poverty that does exist in the United States can be reduced, particularly among children. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don’t work much, and their fathers are absent from the home.

In both good and bad economic environments, the typical American poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year — the equivalent of 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year — the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year — nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

As noted above, father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.5 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, nearly three quarters of the nation’s impoverished youth would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

Yet, although work and marriage are reliable ladders out of poverty, the welfare system perversely remains hostile to both. Major programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to encourage work and marriage, the nation’s remaining poverty could be reduced.

Another important factor boosting poverty in the U.S. is our broken immigration system which imports hundreds of thousands of additional poor people each year from abroad through both legal and illegal immigration channels. One quarter of all poor persons in the U.S. are now first generation immigrants or the minor children of those immigrants. Roughly one in ten of the persons counted among the poor by Census is either an illegal immigrant or the minor child of an illegal. Immigrants tend to be poor because they have very low education levels. A quarter of legal immigrants and fifty to sixty percent of illegals are high-school dropouts. By contrast, only nine percent of non-immigrant Americans lack a high school degree.

As long as the present steady flow of poverty-prone persons from foreign countries continues, efforts to reduce the total number of poor in the U.S. will be far more difficult. A sound anti-poverty strategy must not only seek to increase work and marriage among native born Americans, it must also end illegal immigration, and dramatically increase the skill level of future legal immigrants.

— Robert Rector is senior research fellow in domestic-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Candidate's Spouses - Do They Impact You?

They Stand By Their Men, Loudly

Published: August 26, 2007

RICHARD NIXON had definite views about how the wife of a presidential candidate should campaign. In 1992, he was watching a lawyer named Hillary Clinton aggressively defend her husband in New Hampshire.

“If the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent,” Mr. Nixon observed, “it makes the husband look like a wimp.”

Now, 15 years later, strong and intelligent women are out in force on the campaign trail, and the focus is not just on how they reflect on their husbands but how they reflect on themselves. These women are full partners in their husbands’ campaigns while running mini-campaigns of their own, with hectic travel schedules, strategic agendas and a media horde in tow.

Is it any surprise, then, that they can “make news” just as often as their husbands? Or that the “news” about them can be distorted?

Michelle Obama, the wife of Senator Barack Obama, discovered this last week, if not before, when news reports truncated a comment she made about keeping one’s house in order. Her comment was quickly interpreted as a swipe at Mrs. Clinton. Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” for example, showed a picture of Mrs. Obama juxtaposed against Mrs. Clinton over the caption: “THE CLAWS COME OUT.”

(For the record, Mrs. Obama said: “One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is he a good and decent person? Our view was that, if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. So, we’ve adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first. So while he’s traveling around, I do day trips.”)

Emerging from the flap was what “The Early Show” on CBS said was a “school of thought” that only wives could criticize Mrs. Clinton because if a man did, he might be accused of browbeating. Rick Lazio fell into that trap in 2000 when he ran against Mrs. Clinton for the Senate seat from New York. During a debate, he walked over to her lectern and demanded she sign a pledge not to accept the kind of campaign contributions known as soft money. He was widely perceived as an ogre and in that moment created sympathy for Mrs. Clinton.

This year, both John Edwards and Mr. Obama have criticized Mrs. Clinton on various fronts, from her vote to authorize the Iraq war to her acceptance of money from lobbyists. But they have not used a Lazio-like sledgehammer.

“No one says they are not being chivalrous,” said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, who has written extensively about the political influence of First Families.

Yet the dynamic with the wives and a female frontrunner has complicated matters. Elizabeth Edwards has been the trailblazer, criticizing Mrs. Clinton regularly, to the point of saying that Mr. Edwards would be better than Mrs. Clinton on issues that matter to women.

With spouses less programmed than in the past, the line is blurrier between what women like Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Obama want to say and what the campaigns need them to say.

“These are two women lawyers who have been in the professional world where they’re expected to speak up,” Mr. Anthony said. “But they still serve as windows into their husbands’ character.”

And possibly windows into the campaign’s needs. Witness Mrs. Edwards’s recent lament: “We can’t make John black. We can’t make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars.” Clearly she was expressing the campaign’s frustration at the media’s priorities, but she was skewered anyway (sometimes hilariously, with one blogger writing, “Mrs. Edwards wishes husband John was a black woman”).

The Internet has taken up the debate over whether Mrs. Edwards, a beloved figure in the blogosphere, is being effective or has gone too far.

A sampling from

“I adore Elizabeth Edwards, but the campaign is making a huge mistake by having her be the ‘hit squad.’ ”

“Elizabeth Edwards is allowed to say what she wants. People can either choose to agree or disagree.”

“You are right and we can criticize John Edwards for letting her fight his battles.”

“She isn’t ‘fighting his battles,’ she is merely stating her opinion.”

Robert Thompson, a professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, said that Elizabeth Edwards’s unusual circumstances — as a smart, appealing woman undergoing treatment for cancer — has further complicated her role. “It used to be that all you had to do was make your candidate look good and make the other guy look bad,” he said. “Now, it’s: ‘Do we use Elizabeth’s gravitas to help make her husband seem deeper? Or do we move away from it because the juxtaposition makes him look like a guy who just cares about his haircut?’”

Modern campaigns almost demand that a wife speak up; they certainly give her plenty of chances. This is true even among Republican wives, who, like Nancy Reagan, often wield their power behind the scenes. Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt Romney, was asked what set her husband apart from the other candidates. “He’s had only one wife,” she replied.

David Redlawsk, who teaches political science at the University of Iowa, said that polls showed that most people do not vote for a candidate based on that person’s spouse, although that might be different this year in the case of Mrs. Clinton. But generally, he said, the spouses might as well say what they want.

“It might get folks up in arms,” he said, “but it also gets media attention.”

Mrs. Clinton, of course, could have excellent advice for the wives about how to navigate this universe.

“Hillary is four laps ahead of them,” Mr. Thompson said. “She knows how complicated this is. She would be a great mentor for them. She was there, she knows their pain.”

Alas, she is probably the last person who wants to make it easier for them.

Bush Speech on Vietnam and Leadership

The Left Shudders
And Bush leads.
by William Kristol
09/03/2007, Volume 012, Issue 47

Like a pig in muck, the left loves to wallow in Vietnam. But only in their "Vietnam." Not in the real Vietnam war.

Not in the Vietnam war of 1963-68, the disastrous years where policy was shaped by the best and brightest of American liberalism. Not in the Vietnam war of 1969-73, when Richard Nixon and General Creighton Abrams managed to adjust our strategy, defeat the enemy, and draw down American troops all at once--an achievement affirmed and rewarded by the American electorate in November 1972. Not in the Vietnam of early 1975, when the Democratic Congress insisted on cutting off assistance to our allies in South Vietnam and Cambodia, thereby inviting the armies of the North and the Khmer Rouge to attack. And not in the defeats of April 1975. As the American left celebrated from New York to Hollywood, in Phnom Penh former Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak wrote to John Gunther Dean, the American ambassador, turning down his offer of evacuation:

Dear Excellency and Friend:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this

sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we all are born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.

S/Sirik Matak

The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh a few days later. Sirik Matak was executed: shot in the stomach, he was left without medical help and took three days to die. Between 1 and 2 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the next three years. Next door, tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed, and many more imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands braved the South China Sea to reach freedom.

The United States welcomed the refugees--but we were in worldwide retreat. It turned out that the USSR was sufficiently tired and ramshackle that its attempts to take advantage of that retreat had limited success. Still, the damage done by U.S. weakness in the late 1970s should not be underestimated. To mention only one event, our weakness made possible the first successful Islamist revolution in the modern world in Iran in 1979, in the course of which we allowed a new Iranian government to hold 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The era of weakness ended with the American public's repudiation of Jimmy Carter in 1980. Vietnam played a cameo role in that presidential campaign. In August of 1980, speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Ronald Reagan personally added the following thoughts on Vietnam to the prepared text of a defense policy speech: "As the years dragged on, we were told that peace would come if we would simply stop interfering and go home. It is time we recognized that ours was, in truth, a noble cause. .  .  . There is a lesson for all of us in Vietnam. If we are forced to fight, we must have the means and determination to prevail."

The media went nuts. What a gaffe! Howell Raines, writing a week later in the New York Times, wondered if the Vietnam comments, which had "provided ammunition for his critics," marked "perhaps the turn in Ronald Reagan's luck and in the momentum of his campaign"--a negative turn, Raines meant and hoped.

But it was not to be. Reagan stood by his guns. He beat Jimmy Carter. And all honor to George W. Bush for following in Reagan's footsteps, grasping the nettle, and confronting the real lessons and consequences of Vietnam. The liberal media and the PC academics are horrified. All the better.

As the left shudders, Bush leads. In his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 27 years after Reagan's, Bush also told the truth about Vietnam. Now he has to be steadfast in supporting General Petraeus and ensuring that the war is fought as intelligently and energetically as possible. Not everyone in his administration is as fully committed to this task as they should be. Bush will have to be an energetic and effective commander in chief, both abroad and on the home front, over his final 17 months. Last week was a good start.

--William Kristol

Could Hillary Save The White House for G.O.P.?

GOP activists root for Clinton win

By: Jonathan Martin
Aug 26, 2007 08:23 AM EST

INDIANAPOLIS — He may be on his way out the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in coming days. But the party Karl Rove has labored to build over the past eight years seems to have picked up his talking points on next year’s presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee and that could be the GOP’s saving grace in an otherwise uphill battle.

Conversations with Republicans gathered here for the biennial Midwest Republican Leadership Conference reflect a party unenthused or just plain uncertain about their potential White House nominee. But GOP faithful also seem quite confident and even upbeat about the prospect that the senator from New York is, as Rove put it, the “prohibitive favorite to win the nomination.”

That likelihood, they say, is good news for any hopes of keeping the White House and getting other Republicans on the ballot elected.

Asked if Clinton being the nominee would improve his party’s chances both nationally and in Indiana, Howard County (Ind.) GOP Chair Craig Dunn got excited. “Absolutely, absolutely!” he exclaimed animatedly, grinning widely. “We’ve never elected a president of the United States who started off with 45 percent unfavorable ratings!”

But from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on down to county chairs like Dunn, Republicans also concede that they’re still licking their wounds from the losses that took place nearly 10 months ago.

“No, no, I don’t think so,” Daniels candidly replied Friday after a kickoff luncheon when asked if the party had recovered from its dismal midterm performance. As somebody who saw three Republican incumbent congressmen in his state go down in defeat last fall and who faces a potentially tough reelection battle of his own next year, Daniels would know.

But Daniels, the budget director in President Bush’s first term, said there is reason for hope.

Acknowledging that any two-term presidency “leads to a natural tendency to change,” Daniels said he’s nevertheless optimistic because of the “array of fresh faces” running for the GOP nomination. “This will not be a continuity candidacy. And I say this as somebody who has served in this administration and is loyal to it. A continuity candidacy, given the erosion in the party, wouldn’t have much of a chance.”

Although he got behind Sen. John McCain early and still supports the Arizonan (a longtime friend, Daniels repeatedly pointed out), the governor said he doesn’t know who the GOP nominee will be. “But our party is going to present a new face, a new program, a new look to America and it might just be one that is good enough to win.”

And Republicans here are hopeful that they’ll get to contrast that fresh look with a Democrat who they think Americans will reject as part of a checkered past and who can only boost their hopes to get otherwise dispirited GOP activists to come out and vote.

It’s why the focus on Clinton is so constant that it bordered on obsessive in both the official sessions and less-formal corridor conversations here.

In a multimedia presentation to the most diehard of GOP heartland activists, RNC Chair Mike Duncan played and replayed a video of Clinton talking about the economy in a manner he claimed smacked of “socialism.”

Duncan also offered barbs at Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, among other Democrats — but as with most of the Republicans here, the main target was clearly Clinton.

So when Duncan wrapped up his treatment of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, it was only Clinton that he admonished for being “one of only 22 senators to vote against [Supreme Court Chief Justice] John Roberts” and trying “to block” Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination. And only she, as Duncan told it, “blasted the Supreme Court decision on partial-birth abortion.”

“It’s amazing,” Duncan concluded, “Hillary and her Democratic competitors have made their position clear — they’re running for MoveOn[.org] and not for America.”

The questions Duncan took from the audience reflect why Republicans so want to make Clinton the center of attention; talking about the current state of their own party is not nearly so much fun. Two of those who raised their hands wanted to know when the party will get on a unified message and one of them expressed fear that the immigration issue (which Duncan pointedly avoided during his presentation) will keep the GOP base home.

“My greatest fear is that they won’t turn out,” said the questioner. Another wanted to know just what Bush’s role will be in the election (to which Duncan said in three different ways that the focus will be on their nominee, not the outgoing president).

In an interview, an upbeat Duncan repeatedly came back to talking about the opposition instead of his own party. “We’ve got to get back to our basics,” Duncan said. “Low taxes, less government, strong national security.”

“When we get our candidate, we’ll be in good hands,” he predicted. And why? “Democrats are overplaying their hand.”

Back in the conference room, it was much the same message. “As Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee,” projected GOP pollster B.J. Martino of the Tarrance Group, pointing to charts and graphs, “Republican intensity will simultaneously spike.”

After a BBQ and fried chicken dinner at the famed speedway where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney enjoyed lusty applause and even brought a few Republicans to their feet for offering his stock line that Clinton “couldn’t become elected president of France, let alone president of the United States,” Republicans said they liked what they heard but were still shopping for a candidate.

Asked which way she was leaning, one local Republican who didn’t want her name used hemmed and hawed before blurting out, “Anybody but Hillary!”

Todd Rokita, Indiana’s secretary of state and a Romney backer, emphasized, given his is role as the state’s election officer, that the election next year would be fair and accurate. But as somebody with further statewide ambitions, Rokita couldn’t entirely hide his delight at the prospect of a Clinton nomination. Hoosiers “have had enough of the Clintons and they don’t want a return to that,” he said.

But to Clinton’s camp, the lavishing of GOP attention on the former first lady is seen as nothing short of flattery.

Noting Clinton’s uptick in both national and state polls, spokesman Mo Elleithee said the GOP is “attacking her and making her center of attention because they see these trends”

“They’re starting to get a little nervous and are trying to stop her momentum right now,” Elleithee said. And he offered a reminder: Many Republicans also once gleefully looked forward to taking on Clinton when she first ran for the Senate in New York, too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The War As We Saw It

Published: August 19, 2007

The writers are active U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Smith, Roebuck, Mora and Sandmeier are sergeants. Gray and Murphy are staff sergeants. Via the New York Times


VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

President Bush's History Lesson

August 22, 2007
History Offers Lessons on Winning the War
George W. Bush

I want to open today's speech with a story that begins on a sunny morning, when thousands of Americans were murdered in a surprise attack -- and our nation was propelled into a conflict that would take us to every corner of the globe.

The enemy who attacked us despises freedom, and harbors resentment at the slights he believes America and Western nations have inflicted on his people. He fights to establish his rule over an entire region. And over time, he turns to a strategy of suicide attacks destined to create so much carnage that the American people will tire of the violence and give up the fight.

If this story sounds familiar, it is -- except for one thing. The enemy I have just described is not al Qaeda, and the attack is not 9/11, and the empire is not the radical caliphate envisioned by Osama bin Laden. Instead, what I've described is the war machine of Imperial Japan in the 1940s, its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and its attempt to impose its empire throughout East Asia.

Ultimately, the United States prevailed in World War II, and we have fought two more land wars in Asia. And many in this hall were veterans of those campaigns. Yet even the most optimistic among you probably would not have foreseen that the Japanese would transform themselves into one of America's strongest and most steadfast allies, or that the South Koreans would recover from enemy invasion to raise up one of the world's most powerful economies, or that Asia would pull itself out of poverty and hopelessness as it embraced markets and freedom.

The lesson from Asia's development is that the heart's desire for liberty will not be denied. Once people even get a small taste of liberty, they're not going to rest until they're free. Today's dynamic and hopeful Asia -- a region that brings us countless benefits -- would not have been possible without America's presence and perseverance. It would not have been possible without the veterans in this hall today. And I thank you for your service. (Applause.)

There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we're fighting today. But one important similarity is at their core they're ideological struggles. The militarists of Japan and the communists in Korea and Vietnam were driven by a merciless vision for the proper ordering of humanity. They killed Americans because we stood in the way of their attempt to force their ideology on others. Today, the names and places have changed, but the fundamental character of the struggle has not changed. Like our enemies in the past, the terrorists who wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places seek to spread a political vision of their own -- a harsh plan for life that crushes freedom, tolerance, and dissent.

Like our enemies in the past, they kill Americans because we stand in their way of imposing this ideology across a vital region of the world. This enemy is dangerous; this enemy is determined; and this enemy will be defeated. (Applause.)

We're still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle, but we do know how the others ended -- and that knowledge helps guide our efforts today. The ideals and interests that led America to help the Japanese turn defeat into democracy are the same that lead us to remain engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The defense strategy that refused to hand the South Koreans over to a totalitarian neighbor helped raise up a Asian Tiger that is the model for developing countries across the world, including the Middle East. The result of American sacrifice and perseverance in Asia is a freer, more prosperous and stable continent whose people want to live in peace with America, not attack America.

At the outset of World War II there were only two democracies in the Far East -- Australia and New Zealand. Today most of the nations in Asia are free, and its democracies reflect the diversity of the region. Some of these nations have constitutional monarchies, some have parliaments, and some have presidents. Some are Christian, some are Muslim, some are Hindu, and some are Buddhist. Yet for all the differences, the free nations of Asia all share one thing in common: Their governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed, and they desire to live in peace with their neighbors.

Along the way to this freer and more hopeful Asia, there were a lot of doubters. Many times in the decades that followed World War II, American policy in Asia was dismissed as hopeless and naive. And when we listen to criticism of the difficult work our generation is undertaking in the Middle East today, we can hear the echoes of the same arguments made about the Far East years ago.

In the aftermath of Japan's surrender, many thought it naive to help the Japanese transform themselves into a democracy. Then as now, the critics argued that some people were simply not fit for freedom.

Some said Japanese culture was inherently incompatible with democracy. Joseph Grew, a former United States ambassador to Japan who served as Harry Truman's Under Secretary of State, told the President flatly that -- and I quote -- "democracy in Japan would never work." He wasn't alone in that belief. A lot of Americans believed that -- and so did the Japanese -- a lot of Japanese believed the same thing: democracy simply wouldn't work.

Others critics said that Americans were imposing their ideals on the Japanese. For example, Japan's Vice Prime Minister asserted that allowing Japanese women to vote would "retard the progress of Japanese politics."

It's interesting what General MacArthur wrote in his memoirs. He wrote, "There was much criticism of my support for the enfranchisement of women. Many Americans, as well as many other so-called experts, expressed the view that Japanese women were too steeped in the tradition of subservience to their husbands to act with any degree of political independence." That's what General MacArthur observed. In the end, Japanese women were given the vote; 39 women won parliamentary seats in Japan's first free election. Today, Japan's minister of defense is a woman, and just last month, a record number of women were elected to Japan's Upper House. Other critics argued that democracy -- (applause.)

There are other critics, believe it or not, that argue that democracy could not succeed in Japan because the national religion -- Shinto -- was too fanatical and rooted in the Emperor. Senator Richard Russell denounced the Japanese faith, and said that if we did not put the Emperor on trial, "any steps we may take to create democracy are doomed to failure." The State Department's man in Tokyo put it bluntly: "The Emperor system must disappear if Japan is ever really to be democratic."

Those who said Shinto was incompatible with democracy were mistaken, and fortunately, Americans and Japanese leaders recognized it at the time, because instead of suppressing the Shinto faith, American authorities worked with the Japanese to institute religious freedom for all faiths. Instead of abolishing the imperial throne, Americans and Japanese worked together to find a place for the Emperor in the democratic political system.

And the result of all these steps was that every Japanese citizen gained freedom of religion, and the Emperor remained on his throne and Japanese democracy grew stronger because it embraced a cherished part of Japanese culture. And today, in defiance of the critics and the doubters and the skeptics, Japan retains its religions and cultural traditions, and stands as one of the world's great free societies. (Applause.)

You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong. An interesting observation, one historian put it -- he said, "Had these erstwhile experts" -- he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society -- he said, "Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage."

Instead, I think it's important to look at what happened. A democratic Japan has brought peace and prosperity to its people. Its foreign trade and investment have helped jump-start the economies of others in the region. The alliance between our two nations is the lynchpin for freedom and stability throughout the Pacific. And I want you to listen carefully to this final point: Japan has transformed from America's enemy in the ideological struggle of the 20th century to one of America's strongest allies in the ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.)

Critics also complained when America intervened to save South Korea from communist invasion. Then as now, the critics argued that the war was futile, that we should never have sent our troops in, or they argued that America's intervention was divisive here at home.

After the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel in 1950, President Harry Truman came to the defense of the South -- and found himself attacked from all sides. From the left, I.F. Stone wrote a book suggesting that the South Koreans were the real aggressors and that we had entered the war on a false pretext. From the right, Republicans vacillated. Initially, the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate endorsed Harry Truman's action, saying, "I welcome the indication of a more definite policy" -- he went on to say, "I strongly hope that having adopted it, the President may maintain it intact," then later said "it was a mistake originally to go into Korea because it meant a land war."

Throughout the war, the Republicans really never had a clear position. They never could decide whether they wanted the United States to withdraw from the war in Korea, or expand the war to the Chinese mainland. Others complained that our troops weren't getting the support from the government. One Republican senator said, the effort was just "bluff and bluster." He rejected calls to come together in a time of war, on the grounds that "we will not allow the cloak of national unity to be wrapped around horrible blunders."

Many in the press agreed. One columnist in The Washington Post said, "The fact is that the conduct of the Korean War has been shot through with errors great and small." A colleague wrote that "Korea is an open wound. It's bleeding and there's no cure for it in sight." He said that the American people could not understand "why Americans are doing about 95 percent of the fighting in Korea."

Many of these criticisms were offered as reasons for abandoning our commitments in Korea. And while it's true the Korean War had its share of challenges, the United States never broke its word.

Today, we see the result of a sacrifice of people in this room in the stark contrast of life on the Korean Peninsula. Without Americans' intervention during the war and our willingness to stick with the South Koreans after the war, millions of South Koreans would now be living under a brutal and repressive regime. The Soviets and Chinese communists would have learned the lesson that aggression pays. The world would be facing a more dangerous situation. The world would be less peaceful.

Instead, South Korea is a strong, democratic ally of the United States of America. South Korean troops are serving side-by-side with American forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And America can count on the free people of South Korea to be lasting partners in the ideological struggle we're facing in the beginning of the 21st century. (Applause.)

For those of you who served in Korea, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for your service. (Applause.)

Finally, there's Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech. So I'm going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end.

The argument that America's presence in Indochina was dangerous had a long pedigree. In 1955, long before the United States had entered the war, Graham Greene wrote a novel called, "The Quiet American." It was set in Saigon, and the main character was a young government agent named Alden Pyle. He was a symbol of American purpose and patriotism -- and dangerous naivete. Another character describes Alden this way: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."

After America entered the Vietnam War, the Graham Greene argument gathered some steam. As a matter of fact, many argued that if we pulled out there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people.

In 1972, one antiwar senator put it this way: "What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos, whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they've never seen and may never heard of?" A columnist for The New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists: "It's difficult to imagine," he said, "how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." A headline on that story, date Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: "Indochina without Americans: For Most a Better Life."

The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.

Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America. (Applause.) Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like "boat people," "re-education camps," and "killing fields."

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today's struggle -- those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that "the American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today."

His number two man, Zawahiri, has also invoked Vietnam. In a letter to al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq, Zawahiri pointed to "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."

Zawahiri later returned to this theme, declaring that the Americans "know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet." Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility -- but the terrorists see it differently.

We must remember the words of the enemy. We must listen to what they say. Bin Laden has declared that "the war [in Iraq] is for you or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever." Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror -- but it's the central front -- it's the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again. And it's the central front for the United States and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating. (Applause.)

If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits. As we saw on September the 11th, a terrorist safe haven on the other side of the world can bring death and destruction to the streets of our own cities. Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home. And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Recently, two men who were on the opposite sides of the debate over the Vietnam War came together to write an article. One was a member of President Nixon's foreign policy team, and the other was a fierce critic of the Nixon administration's policies. Together they wrote that the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq would be disastrous.

Here's what they said: "Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences." I believe these men are right.

In Iraq, our moral obligations and our strategic interests are one. So we pursue the extremists wherever we find them and we stand with the Iraqis at this difficult hour -- because the shadow of terror will never be lifted from our world and the American people will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our Creator meant for all. (Applause.)

I recognize that history cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. I understand that. But history does remind us that there are lessons applicable to our time. And we can learn something from history. In Asia, we saw freedom triumph over violent ideologies after the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American lives -- and that freedom has yielded peace for generations.

The American military graveyards across Europe attest to the terrible human cost in the fight against Nazism. They also attest to the triumph of a continent that today is whole, free, and at peace. The advance of freedom in these lands should give us confidence that the hard work we are doing in the Middle East can have the same results we've seen in Asia and elsewhere -- if we show the same perseverance and the same sense of purpose.

In a world where the terrorists are willing to act on their twisted beliefs with sickening acts of barbarism, we must put faith in the timeless truths about human nature that have made us free.

Across the Middle East, millions of ordinary citizens are tired of war, they're tired of dictatorship and corruption, they're tired of despair. They want societies where they're treated with dignity and respect, where their children have the hope for a better life. They want nations where their faiths are honored and they can worship in freedom.

And that is why millions of Iraqis and Afghans turned out to the polls -- millions turned out to the polls. And that's why their leaders have stepped forward at the risk of assassination. And that's why tens of thousands are joining the security forces of their nations. These men and women are taking great risks to build a free and peaceful Middle East -- and for the sake of our own security, we must not abandon them.

There is one group of people who understand the stakes, understand as well as any expert, anybody in America -- those are the men and women in uniform. Through nearly six years of war, they have performed magnificently. (Applause.) Day after day, hour after hour, they keep the pressure on the enemy that would do our citizens harm. They've overthrown two of the most brutal tyrannies of the world, and liberated more than 50 million citizens. (Applause.)

In Iraq, our troops are taking the fight to the extremists and radicals and murderers all throughout the country. Our troops have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January of this year. (Applause.) We're in the fight. Today our troops are carrying out a surge that is helping bring former Sunni insurgents into the fight against the extremists and radicals, into the fight against al Qaeda, into the fight against the enemy that would do us harm. They're clearing out the terrorists out of population centers, they're giving families in liberated Iraqi cities a look at a decent and hopeful life.

Our troops are seeing this progress that is being made on the ground. And as they take the initiative from the enemy, they have a question: Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they're gaining momentum and changing the dynamic on the ground in Iraq? Here's my answer is clear: We'll support our troops, we'll support our commanders, and we will give them everything they need to succeed. (Applause.)

Despite the mistakes that have been made, despite the problems we have encountered, seeing the Iraqis through as they build their democracy is critical to keeping the American people safe from the terrorists who want to attack us. It is critical work to lay the foundation for peace that veterans have done before you all.

A free Iraq is not going to be perfect. A free Iraq will not make decisions as quickly as the country did under the dictatorship. Many are frustrated by the pace of progress in Baghdad, and I can understand this. As I noted yesterday, the Iraqi government is distributing oil revenues across its provinces despite not having an oil revenue law on its books, that the parliament has passed about 60 pieces of legislation.

Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him. And it's not up to politicians in Washington, D.C. to say whether he will remain in his position -- that is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy, and not a dictatorship. (Applause.) A free Iraq is not going to transform the Middle East overnight. But a free Iraq will be a massive defeat for al Qaeda, it will be an example that provides hope for millions throughout the Middle East, it will be a friend of the United States, and it's going to be an important ally in the ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.)

Prevailing in this struggle is essential to our future as a nation. And the question now that comes before us is this: Will today's generation of Americans resist the allure of retreat, and will we do in the Middle East what the veterans in this room did in Asia?

The journey is not going to be easy, as the veterans fully understand. At the outset of the war in the Pacific, there were those who argued that freedom had seen its day and that the future belonged to the hard men in Tokyo. A year and a half before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan's Foreign Minister gave a hint of things to come during an interview with a New York newspaper. He said, "In the battle between democracy and totalitarianism the latter adversary will without question win and will control the world. The era of democracy is finished, the democratic system bankrupt."

In fact, the war machines of Imperial Japan would be brought down -- brought down by good folks who only months before had been students and farmers and bank clerks and factory hands. Some are in the room today. Others here have been inspired by their fathers and grandfathers and uncles and cousins.

That generation of Americans taught the tyrants a telling lesson: There is no power like the power of freedom and no soldier as strong as a soldier who fights for a free future for his children. (Applause.) And when America's work on the battlefield was done, the victorious children of democracy would help our defeated enemies rebuild, and bring the taste of freedom to millions.

We can do the same for the Middle East. Today the violent Islamic extremists who fight us in Iraq are as certain of their cause as the Nazis, or the Imperial Japanese, or the Soviet communists were of theirs. They are destined for the same fate. (Applause.)

The greatest weapon in the arsenal of democracy is the desire for liberty written into the human heart by our Creator. So long as we remain true to our ideals, we will defeat the extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will help those countries' peoples stand up functioning democracies in the heart of the broader Middle East. And when that hard work is done and the critics of today recede from memory, the cause of freedom will be stronger, a vital region will be brighter, and the American people will be safer.

Thank you, and God bless. (Applause.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Does Democrat = Leave Now?

Clinton, Obama Warn in Debate Iraq Withdrawal Will Take Time

By Heidi Przybyla

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Hillary Clinton warned Democrats not to ``oversell'' plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, setting a cautious tone on the war that was echoed by the party's two other leading presidential candidates.

Clinton and her main competitors for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards, agreed in a debate this morning that pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq can't be accomplished in just a few months and that any withdrawal must be balanced by security concerns.

``It is so important that we not oversell this,'' Clinton said at the ABC News-sponsored forum in Des Moines, Iowa. Edwards concurred, saying it ``would be hard'' to move troops out within six months, as suggested by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, while Obama said U.S. options are limited.

``George Bush drove the bus into the ditch and there are only so many ways you can pull that bus out of the ditch,'' the Illinois Democrat said.

The debate was the first among the Democrats running for president held in the state that traditionally kicks off the official nomination contests with its party caucuses in January.

The candidates continued a discussion about whether Obama has enough experience to be president, and Clinton, of New York, was questioned about whether polls showing more than 40 percent of the public views her unfavorably suggest she is too polarizing a figure to lead the party to victory in 2008.

In a previous debate, Obama said he would be willing to meet unconditionally with hostile foreign leaders during his first year in office.

Debate on Experience

In today's forum, Clinton said no president ``should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader,'' and Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware said he stood by an earlier statement that Obama isn't ready for the job.

``To prepare for this debate I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair,'' Obama, 46, said, drawing laughter from the audience. Critics aren't arguing with ``the substance of my positions,'' the first-term senator said. ``I think that there's been some political maneuvering taking place over the last couple of weeks.''

Clinton, 59, took her turn on defense when the candidates were asked whether Democrats should be worried that nominating the former first lady will hurt the party.

Lobbyist Donations

The nation needs someone who ``can break out of the political patterns that we've been in over the last 20 years,'' Obama said. Edwards, 54, a former senator from North Carolina who is trailing Clinton and Obama in national polls and in raising money, suggested her ties to lobbyists will prevent her from being able to change Washington.

``These people will never give away power voluntarily,'' he said, renewing his call for Clinton to foreswear lobbyist contributions. ``We have to take their power away from them.''

Clinton said her critics are making an ``artificial distinction,'' because while Edwards and Obama don't take money directly from lobbyists they accept donations from law firms that hire lobbyists. ``It's the people who employ the lobbyists who are behind all the money in American politics,'' she said.

She said comments made last week by Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's political adviser, that Clinton enters the primary season with higher negative poll ratings than any previous frontrunner show she is the best candidate to beat the Republicans next year.

Nuclear Weapons

Clinton also defended comments she made in a Bloomberg News interview in 2006 that she would rule out using nuclear weapons against Iran. She criticized Obama for a recent comment that he wouldn't use nuclear weapons against terrorists.

``This was a brush back against this administration which has been reckless and provocative,'' she said of her earlier statement, whereas Obama's remark was on ``hypotheticals'' that shouldn't be addressed by a presidential candidate.

On the war, Richardson was alone in saying U.S. troops should withdraw from Iraq in six to eight months, leaving no residual forces behind to protect civilian personnel.

Biden led the other Democrats in disagreeing. ``It's time to start to level with the American people,'' Biden said. ``If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there'll be regional war. The regional war will engulf us for a generation.''

Clinton said Biden is ``absolutely right,'' cautioning that ``this is going to be very dangerous and very difficult'' and ``a lot of people don't like to hear that.''

Edwards said a timetable of nine or 10 months is more reasonable. Obama said Biden is right and that ``this is not going to be a simple operation.''

When the eight candidates were asked whether there was a major issue where they didn't tell the whole truth, Clinton and Edwards cited their votes to authorize Bush to use military force in Iraq.

Clinton said while she thought at the time that her vote was an ``appropriate approach.'' Looking back on it ``I wouldn't have voted that way again,'' she said. ``Obviously for me that is a great regret.''

Edwards said that he had a ``huge internal conflict'' about the war authorization that he didn't express at the time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heidi Przybyla in Washington at .

Last Updated: August 19, 2007 13:41 EDT

Deportation of Illegal Immigrant Activist

Arellano: Return to U.S. Unlikely

'The only thing I can do is stay in Mexico,' deported illegal immigrant says

By Antonio Olivo Tribune staff reporter
1:22 PM CDT, August 20, 2007

SAN DIEGO — Deported immigration activist Elvira Arellano said today that she will continue her fight for immigration reform, but she acknowledged she has little chance of returning to the United States."The only thing I can do is stay in Mexico," she told the Tribune in a telephone interview from Tijuana, Mexico, where she ended up after federal authorities handed her over to Mexican officials Sunday night.Earlier, immigration officials confirmed that Arellano had been deported after her arrest on a downtown Los Angeles street Sunday afternoon after leaving her yearlong refuge in a Chicago church.
Audio slideshow
In today's interview, Arellano recounted how she tried to plead her case with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials one more time after her arrest, pointing out that private bills had been introduced by U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez, both Chicago Democrats, aimed at keeping her in the United States.The officials refused to discuss the matter, she said. She quoted them as saying, "No, no, no.""They were angry with me for everything I have done," she said.She was processed at the immigration staging facility in Santa Ana, Calif., with officials taking her photograph and fingerprints, and then transporting her 100 miles to the border crossing at San Ysidro, Calif. There, she walked through a metal turnstile and was greeted by Mexican officials in Tijuana, according to a statement issued by immigration officials.Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, who accompanied Arellano to Los Angeles, said this morning that Arellano was staying with a relative in Tijuana."She is in good spirits," he said. "She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border."Federal officials said Arellano's 8-year-old son, Saul, was left, at Arellano's request, with Coleman and other traveling companions.Immigration officers arrested Arellano, 32, shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday Los Angeles time as she and her supporters were leaving a downtown church. She had sought sanctuary at the church after slipping unnoticed out of the Chicago church where she had avoided deportation since August 2006.Glenn Triveline, a Chicago field office director for immigration, said today that authorities did not arrest Arellano in Chicago because they were concerned about the safety of officers."We had reason to believe that there was going to be a lot of people in there, in the church, there to protect her," he said.Los Angeles was different from Chicago, he said, because she was outside."It was just that she was outside in an area where we could facilitate the arrest," he said.In Chicago this morning, more than 50 Arellano supporters demonstrated outside immigration offices at 536 S. Clark St., carrying signs reading "Stop the Raids" and "Stop Enforcing Racist Laws."Via speakerphone, Chicago activist Emma Lozano, who was with Arellano in Los Angeles, spoke to the demonstrators."Her spirits are high," Lozano told the crowd, adding that federal officials sought "to silence her and clip her wings."Planning continued for a major demonstration Sept. 12 on the Mall in Washington to highlight the plight of illegal immigrants, Lozano said. Calling it "A Day Without Immigrants," Lozano said the protest would revolve around a national boycott in which immigrants would be called on to stay away from their jobs and classrooms and refrain from making any purchases.After demonstrating outside the Chicago immigration offices, the protesters moved on to the Kluczynski Federal Building, 230 S. Dearborn St., where five of them went up to the local office of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to urge him to introduce a private bill to provide a humanitarian visa for Arellano.Tribune reporter Monique Garcia and Tribune photographer Abel Uribe contributed to this report.

Giuliani ducks queries about faith and family - Should faith and family be part of the election process?

By: Jonathan Martin Aug 19, 2007 08:30 AM EST MANCHESTER, N.H. — Rudy Giuliani is testing many traditional political rules in his presidential run, perhaps in no way more than in his effort keep his personal faith and family life out of the race. On the stump in Iowa recently and in New Hampshire last week, the former New York mayor was asked about Catholicism and his frayed relationship with his children. Both times he said, in effect, that he’d keep his private life private. “I’ll talk about it appropriately and in a way to preserve as much as I can the privacy of my family and my children, which I think any decent person would,” he told reporters at a stop at a diner here on Friday. Giuliani urged voters “to concentrate on the public things that I’ve accomplished” before turning fire on the media: “See how much do newspapers really have to probe into these things, or how much of it is being done really for reasons that have nothing to do with measuring public performance.” The GOP front-runner has been the subject of detailed articles examining his wife, Judith, and his difficult relationship with his two college-age children, Andrew and Caroline. But it’s not just family matters that Giuliani is wary of delving into. Asked about his religion, Giuliani noted that he has discussed it — but then added that “even parts of that are personal.” His calculus is obvious. He has been married three times and cheated on his second wife. His children have publicly distanced themselves from him. If and when he attends Mass, he can’t take communion because his second marriage was not annulled. And he contradicts church teaching by backing abortion rights. Naturally he’d rather talk about the taxes he cut as mayor. But experts say it will be difficult for a candidate, particularly one running in a party whose base is dominated by cultural traditionalists, to ask voters to separate church and family from state. For many if not most conservatives, matters of faith and family are central to a candidate’s character. “It is untenable,” GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said of Giuliani’s current posture. “With a third of the party, you can get away with it. The problem is the other two-thirds are the ones that control the nomination.” “People want to get a sense what’s in that person’s heart,” said Fabrizio, who is uncommitted in the race. “Doing a good job on crime is all well and good, but if [voters] don’t have a sense as to what your moral compass is, that’s a problem.” Pointing to a survey he recently did that showed two-thirds of Republicans believe religion “essential to living a good and moral life,” Fabrizio said, “It’s very difficult to see how you communicate what your values are without explaining what they’re based upon.” Part of Giuliani’s problem is the precedent set by the two most recent presidents.
A Southern Baptist who could summon appropriate Scripture for any occasion, Bill Clinton was at ease in the pew or pulpit of any church and during his presidency regularly walked into his own church with Bible in hand. And though he despised having to do it, Clinton also took to national television during his 1992 campaign to admit, with his wife right next to him, that he had “caused pain" in their marriage. President Bush has been equally open about his Christianity. Asked during the 2000 primary to name his favorite political philosopher, Bush responded without hesitation: “Christ, because he changed my heart.” He also candidly talked about the role of religion in helping him quit drinking — a decision that sustained his marriage.Though he’s never been much for discussing his Catholicism — he chafed when asked about his Mass-going practices in a 1998 interview before confessing that he attends only “occasionally” — Giuliani hasn’t always been so hesitant about his family.
In his first run for mayor in 1989, his then-wife, Donna Hanover, narrated a syrupy campaign commercial that sought to soften the tough-guy prosecutor by showing him playing ball with his young son and giving a bottle to his newborn daughter. “And Rudy is such a great dad,” Hanover gushed.
Now, though, such matters are off-limits. “I believe that things about my personal life should be discussed personally and privately,” Giuliani told reporters in Iowa. “Family off limits?” scoffed Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at South Carolina’s Winthrop University. “Wait till his opponents in South Carolina — where the ghost of Lee Atwater hangs over primary politics and people still remember fliers being placed on their windshields about John McCain’s ‘black child’ — start getting serious!” But Giuliani rivals, too, have reasons to downplay personal matters this campaign cycle. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has proudly displayed his wife and five sons on the trail but has shied away from discussing his Mormonism in detail, concerned about potential backlash from evangelical voters who don’t consider the church legitimate. Similarly, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), who has not officially entered the race, have both had previous marriages and neither is outwardly religious. “Mayor Giuliani is not much different than the other leading Republican contenders in their discussion of their faith,” said Bill Paxon, a former New York congressman who is advising Giuliani’s campaign. “They are all folks who have faith and have individual positions that they subscribe to, but on the other hand they’re not much interested in making that the bedrock of their presidential campaigns.” What’s more, Paxon argued, Giuliani’s messy family life and differences with church teachings are nothing that attentive voters don’t already know about. “None of this is a surprise to most Republican primary voters, and those are the same voters who are consistently rating Rudy Giuliani as the leading Republican contender [in polls]. And he’s getting a lot of that support from many folks who are evangelical Christians.” But Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Christian scholar who studies the intersection of religion and public life, said Giuliani would have to address the issue directly, ideally weaving candor and humor. “He’s got to find a speechwriter that can put together the words and say something like, ‘I’m a Catholic. I’m not a very good one, but I’m trying to be,’” Cromartie said. “I just don’t think he can forever avoid it.” Family matters are a bit different, Cromartie argued, especially when it comes to children. For all their frankness about themselves, both Clinton and Bush guarded their kids from public attention, he observed, and few GOP voters seemed to care that Vice President Cheney’s daughter was a lesbian —despite the best effort of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to highlight that fact during a presidential debate in 2004. Fabrizio thinks that Giuliani’s best bet is to keep doing what he’s doing now — but with a wrinkle. “He ought to take a lesson out of Clinton playbook in ’96,” offered Fabrizio, who, as pollster for Clinton's opponent, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), recalls that campaign well. “He needs to find issues that are values-tinted.” By that, he means topics that will appeal to conservative voters without veering onto subjects that Giuliani is seeking to avoid. So, for example, whereas Clinton had the v-chip that could block children’s access to some television content, Giuliani could hammer home the need to crack down on cyberporn. Whatever he does, Giuliani’s untraditional bid has already made the Republican contest unique. As Paxon put it after amiably defending his candidate, “This is going to be an unusual cycle.”