The Corner

Bush On The Stump

I’m in Greeley, Colo., where President Bush just spoke an hour ago. I’ve been reading Bush’s speeches, not listening to them, for a couple of weeks now, so my judgment may be distorted–but this certainly seems to be his toughest attack on Kerry yet. The president spoke almost entirely about the war on terrorism. In fact, I missed the domestic portion of the speech because of a few minutes of (friendly) conversation with security.

Some excerpts follow. Some of the anti-Kerry toughness, though, doesn’t come across in these small nuggets; I’ll probably do a longer piece for tomorrow’s NRO.

“[Kerry] says that fighting — he says that fighting terrorists in the Middle East, America has — quote — “created terrorists where they did not exist.” End quote. This is his argument — that terrorists are somehow less dangerous or fewer in number if America avoids provoking them. But this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the enemy. We are dealing with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives. If America were not fighting these killers west of Baghdad and in the mountains of Afghanistan and elsewhere, what does Senator Kerry think they would do? Would they be living productive lives of service and charity?” . . .

On Iraq: ” My opponent has the wrong strategy for the wrong country at the wrong time.”

“In addition to a global test, my opponent promises what he calls, a golden

age of diplomacy, to charm critical governments all over the world. I don’t see much diplomatic skill in Senator Kerry’s habit of insulting America’s closest friends.” . . .

“Instead of offering his own agenda for freedom, my opponent complains that

we are trying to ‘impose democracy on the people of the broader Middle East.’

Is that what he sees in Afghanistan, unwilling people having democracy forced

upon them? We did remove the Taliban by force. But democracy is rising in that

country because the Afghan people, like people everywhere, want to live in


“No one forced them to register by the millions, or to stand in long lines

waiting to vote. For many people, that historic election was a day they will

never forget. One man in Western Kabul arrived to vote at 7 a.m. He said, I

don’t want — he said: I didn’t sleep all night, I wanted to be the first in my

polling station. My fellow citizens, freedom is on the march, and it is

changing the world.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.