He’s turned into a great orator, although I must say I miss the occasional malapropism. And he’s a hell of a leader; he shows real nerve and conviction — both in his toughness on the terror masters, and in his insistence that we defend our moral standards by tending to the sick and suffering, by opposing human cloning, by outlawing “partial-birth abortions,” by rescuing drug addicts, and by trying to turn prisons into an opportunity for rehabilitation. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a president elevate the tone of public discourse so effectively.
I didn’t think he was going to declare war tonight — although at a couple of points I half expected him to announce that the liberation of Baghdad had begun — but he certainly set the table. Most commentators overlooked the fact that he restated the Axis of Evil theme, dealing with Iran, North Korea, and Iraq in turn. He was spot-on when he said that each required a different strategy, and we can only hope that he really does it — so far the Iranians have only gotten words, not action.
The best news of all was that he finally set a timetable for Iraq. Powell goes to the Security Council on the 5th and will present our case, presumably with at least some of the proof for which the skeptics and the anti-war crowd have been clamoring. Then, very quickly, I would expect the war speech itself, the one where the president explains in detail why we are waging war, and what we hope to accomplish.
He’s got it right: We’re bringing freedom to the oppressed peoples of the terror tyrants. It’s about time. He could even do it faster…
— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen, Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, can be reached through Benador Associates.