Loose Canons

Man in a Hurry

Has there ever been a president whose second term got off to such a fast start?

By 11.21.04

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Has there ever been a president whose second term got off to such a fast start? Washington wisdom would have Bush 2.0 in beta-testing, developing nuanced policies and bringing the President's opponents into the cabinet to assure policy "balance." This would, of course, preclude much of anything from happening to disturb Washington, the U.N., or the EUnuchs in the next four years. In the immortal words of Mr. Soprano, fuhgeddaboudit. President Bush is a man in a hurry.

President Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales to replace Colin Powell and John Ashcroft before their predecessors' chairs cooled. (Note to the New York Times: If Big Dog Don Rumsfeld were going, he'd already be gone.) Our impatient Mr. Bush didn't wait for Chilean police to sort out their problems with his Secret Service detail. He waded into a scuffle, grabbed Secret Service agent Nick Trotta by the lapel, and dragged him past the overly enthusiastic Chileans. (Can you imagine the ribbing Trotta's pals are giving him now? Imagine a lifetime of brave service being remembered only for the moment the President dove into the shoving contest to protect his bodyguard.) After extracting poor Trotta, the President straightened his cuffs and got on to bidness. From the way Dubya is rushing around, you'd think we were at war.

The Dems and Euro-libs are comforting themselves with the idea that America is overextended, and not capable of tackling the rest of the challenges that face us. But what they don't understand is that this president hasn't slacked the pace, and isn't going to be shy about pulling the levers of America that will change the world -- and us -- between now and 2008. The cabinet shuffle -- meant to solidify the Bush agenda, not submerge it in incoherence -- is just step number one.

STEP NUMBER TWO IS lining up the diplomatic and military tools we need to continue a war that won't be over by 2008. Though the Dem campaign of 2004 was based on the theory that America can't take on more than one problem at a time, we can and we must. The principal challenge to America in the next four years is the advent of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea. All of us, the President most of all, hope these issues may be susceptible of solution by means other than war. But we know that the longer we wait to solve them, the less likely a peaceful solution can be found. Though the EUnuchs continue to appease Iran with a ever-evolving nuclear development agreements, the President isn't content to wait. In the APEC conference in Chile, the President raised the pressure on Iran, saying that Iran's continued denials of any intent to develop nuclear weapons were belied by the fact that Iran is speeding the production of uranium hexafluoride, one of the steps in preparing fissionable material for nuclear weapons.

Departing Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week that the Iranians were pushing forward with the development of missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, and then was blasted for relying on a single intelligence source for his statement. That the statement was single-sourced detracts not one bit from its accuracy. Iran wants to be able to destroy Israel and threaten Europe. Terrorists can deliver nuclear weapons by many means, and we can rely on Iran to arm terrorists with them. But if Iran wants to hold itself out as a nuclear power, it has to have either missiles or aircraft to deliver the weapons. We don't need triple-sourced intelligence to tell us what's obvious.

One of the administration's most effective critics of the Iranian nuke program, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, may be picked by Condi Rice as her new deputy. Sen. John McCain said on Meet the Press yesterday that the Iranians may be able to have nuclear weapons in a matter of months. The U.N. and Old Europe can choose to paper over the Iranian nuke problem, but we won't.

Liberals here and abroad are drinking their own bath water again, comforting themselves that the mess in Iraq means that we can't take action elsewhere to remove and destabilize terrorist regimes. They are wrong, because they don't understand that to deal with these problems a massive invasion is not the only choice. In a speech to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation on November 11, Vice Adm. Eric Olson (former boss SEAL and now deputy commander of SOCOM) said that we have about 6,800 special operations troops engaged in everything from training to major terrorist hunts in some 52 countries. Whatever we do in Iran won't be what the EUnuchs and the mullahs expect. I suspect that Adm. Olson (whose middle name, fortuitously, is Thor) will be tossing a few lightning bolts into the mix. And he does have all of Porter Goss's phone numbers.

While the U.N. fiddles, and Iran and North Korea burn the midnight oil pursuing nukes, about 60 nations are now part of our Proliferation Security Initiative, the quasi-military alliance that is now interdicting missile and WMD shipments between and among rogue states and terrorists. Kim Jong-il is arguing that North Korea can sell whatever it likes to whomever it chooses. It will cost us much to convince Kim -- and his successors -- otherwise. It is W's job to minimize that cost, and that he will do while attending to Iraq.

The Iraqi election is scheduled for Sunday, January 30, 2005. According to a senior Defense Department source, 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces are stable and almost secure. About 20 political parties have already registered to participate in the elections. The urgent message being sent to Syria -- from whence much of the funding for the insurgency comes, courtesy of Oil-for-Food money scammed by Saddam -- is that they need to lay off now, or suffer the consequences very soon. Bashar Assad's regime is likely the next to fall. It matters not whether we or the Israelis do it. Syria's role in the Iraq insurgency, and Iran's, are not going to suffer from inattention much longer. Mr. Bush wants to leave America a safer place, and to do that he's working as hard at home as he is abroad.

BECAUSE THE WAR WON'T be over in January 2008, the President realizes that he has to ensure that the Dems -- unless they come to their senses and throw the Michael Moorons out of their party -- won't regain the presidency until the war is over. To do that, the President has to do something no president has done before: ensure the ascendancy of his successor.

Mr. Bush won this election because, as he often said, people knew where he stood. But that's not all of it. Americans trust the President with their lives and their values. Most importantly, Mr. Bush's campaign was directed to every voter in every precinct in the nation. The most radical idea in some minds in the White House is that if someone can rise above the crowd after 2006, and if Americans can learn to trust that person as they now trust George W. Bush, that person can be the 44th president of the United States. Should Vice President Cheney retire in 2006 to make way for the next president? Maybe. Can some cabinet member be groomed for the job even if Cheney stays? Or, more likely, should someone we don't even think of now be pushed into the limelight as more than a faithful member of Mr. Bush's team?

If Mr. Bush is as smart as we think he is, he will groom more than one contender. After the 2006 election, we'll be seeing a lot more of a couple of these guys. The EUnuchs and the Mooron Dems don't think the President can walk and chew gum at the same time. But right now he's proving that he can sprint and shape the future with one hand tied behind his back.

TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.