Bush’s failure as leader and communicator

Yesterday I mentioned David Frum’s criticism of the president for his inability or refusal to explain the war to the American people on an ongoing basis, and the letters from readers that Frum had published making the same point. The letters are all worth reading, but one of them is so good (notwithstanding the writer’s use of such phrases as “compelling narrative” instead of, say, “coherent explanation”) and captures so much of what VFR itself has been saying over the last couple of years that I’m reproducing it here:

A reader from California:

“I’m writing from the deep blue San Francisco Bay Area, and I have to agree with the other people writing you about the inadequacy of the White House’s communications. But I don’t think the fundamental failure is in communications; it’s in basic strategy. The war will not be won until the governments of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia have ceased their support for terrorism and joined the community of civilized nations. I supported the invasion of Iraq because the United States needed a beachhead in the Middle East from which to exert pressure on surrounding nations. But a beachhead is only useful if you *use* it, and so far the Bush administration shows precious little inclination to do so.

“I want the United States to win the war. But I’m not seeing any signs of a Bush adminstration strategy beyond Iraq, and without such a strategy we will never achieve victory. I suspect this is why the White House is doing such a poor job at communicating; you can’t speak clearly and convincingly on the war unless you have a strategic vision to integrate the facts into a compelling narrative. And no, in this context ‘the Iraqis have a government’ is *not* a compelling narrative. A compelling narrative is one that explains how, paraphrasing Ronald Reagan on the Cold War, ‘we win and they lose.’

“At this point I find myself faced with a political choice between Democrats who don’t want to prosecute the war at all, and Republicans who are prosecuting it so poorly that we might be better off doing nothing. I voted for Bush in November primarily on national security grounds; much of the remainder of his agenda I dislike. If he botches the war, he’s got nothing. And he’s botching it.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 24, 2005 06:44 AM | Send

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