Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bill Buckley on President Bush

Currently reading Miles Gone By by Bill Buckley. Initial impression: Intellectually satisfying. Buckley writes with a politically and socially insightful pen - and with a dictionary-embracing vocabulary! I have to admit that I was not aware of his long-tenured and (continuing) significant impact as a conservative viz a viz, among other endeavors, the National Review and Firing Line. Call me politically naive.

But having read half the book and some of his articles at I would define him as an "old line" conservative, harkening back to the days when Democrats and Republicans were government size defined. Today, both parties are facing an identity crisis - and the issue of big government has, alas, become a relic of the past.

Still, Buckley provides ample evidence that a conservative view is ever more relevant in today's Sitz im Leben than ever before. In a recent column he affirms President George W. Bush's war on terror in The president says it again:
At West Point on May 27, he spoke to the graduating class. He was acutely aware that this was the first class to have matriculated at the academy after Sept. 11. Mr. Bush didn't wish away the hard edges of service in the U.S. Army. He stressed that we were at war. He spoke of the "34 times since your class arrived (that) you have observed a moment of silence in Washington Hall to honor a former cadet fallen in the war on terror."

There was not a hint of retrenchment, on the military, the historical or the ideological front. Mr. Bush reiterated in some detail the line set down by Harry Truman. "He told the Congress: 'It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.'"
Buckley continues...
The historical perspective is interesting. "In the Cold War, we deterred Soviet aggression through a policy of mutually assured destruction. Unlike the Soviet Union, the terrorist enemies we face today hide in caves and shadows -- and emerge to attack free nations from within. The terrorists have no borders to protect, or capital to defend. They cannot be deterred -- but they will be defeated. America will fight the terrorists on every battlefront, and we will not rest until this threat to our country has been removed."

Is this just soldier-talk? Soldier-talk, graduation-time?

Mr. Bush is manifestly a true believer in the rhetoric he uses. "In this new war, we have set a clear doctrine. After the attacks of September the 11th, I told a joint session of Congress: America makes no distinction between the terrorists and the countries that harbor them. If you harbor a terrorist, you are just as guilty as the terrorists and you're an enemy of the United States of America. In the months that followed, I also made clear the principles that will guide us in this new war: America will not wait to be attacked again. We will confront threats before they fully materialize. We will stay on the offense against the terrorists, fighting them abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."
A fitting reminder that we're on the right track as a country. Thank you Bill Buckley. Thank you Mr. President.

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