TCS Daily

Government in Time of War

By Josh Manchester - November 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Recently President Bush met with a select group of opinion columnists. Their reports paint an image of a White House that is operating at a very different level than most news stories and Democratic critics have otherwise intimated. Even though the majority of the country still leads peacetime lives, and the majority of the opposition does not comport itself as though we are at war, President Bush is unmistakably fighting a war, day in and day out.

Daniel Henninger quoted Bush and described the atmosphere in his weekly column for the Wall Street Journal:

"I'm campaigning like mad, and I'm looking at people in the eye and saying, you better have a government that does everything in its power to protect you from attack. You're right here in the office where I get briefed every morning and I'm telling you it's on my mind, and I can't keep it off my mind. I was affected deeply by the attacks of September the 11th. It became clear to me that day that we were at war. I know we're at war . . ."

Admittedly, it is difficult to convey in public the urgency about the war on terror that Mr. Bush conveys in private. But it is obvious that he regards the threat to the American people as palpable.

"My biggest issue that I think about all the time," Mr. Bush says, "is the next attack on America, because I am fully aware that there are people out there that would like nothing more than to have another spectacular moment by killing American people. And they're coming. And we've got to do everything we can to stop them. That's why we need to be on offense all the time." This, he insists, is the justification for the terrorist wiretaps, the Patriot Act, the interrogations and the Iraq war.

Both the Republican Congress and President Bush have long been condemned for not living up to their conservative credentials, or for other errors that just didn't sit right: by letting spending grow; by not getting a Social Security reform bill passed; for nominating Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court; and so on. Perhaps such critiques, well-founded though they might be, are a little too swift to ignore the central feature of this Presidency: it's at war, and in such times, other considerations quite frequently fall to the wayside.

Some would probably place the blame for this at Bush's feet himself. "After all," they might argue, "he didn't take the entire nation to war. He asked us to go on shopping as usual." Be that as it may, it does not change the fact that in any endeavor and in any organization, leadership can only grasp hold of so many goals at a time, whether attempting to maintain situational awareness, developing a policy and creating a consensus around it, or rallying the public to a cause. In short, it is not absurd to think that one reason for the GOP Congress' seeming malaise is that the Presidential leadership, which often plays a very important role in congressional goal-setting and consensus-building, is entirely consumed with preventing the next attack on America.

Will anyone really care about Social Security reform the day after the next attack? Or how big the federal budget deficit is? Capable politicians, of whom the president is one, realize that such considerations, while important, will sink to the bottom the moment the next bombs detonate. Marine General Al Gray was once asked why he spent so much of the Corps' money on training, and not on quality-of-life initiatives like better housing. To paraphrase him, "the best quality-of-life is having one," - meant to imply that training keeps men alive.

Is it too much to think that Bush and most key members of his cabinet are so focused on preventing attacks and prosecuting the war that all other functions of government are on auto-pilot? Bureaucracies have an inertia of their own that allows them to function for a good bit of time even without detailed guidance. And Congress can certainly keep itself occupied without the President submitting new legislation, or rallying them to it - though it doesn't hurt to note that the main legislation Bush did work on in the last three months was that dealing with interrogations - in other words, he was focused on the war.

How long can this go on? Bush implies that the next President will be just as busy as he is in preventing attacks on the United States. If it's true that the presidential attention span will be concerned primarily with security for the foreseeable future - say ten or fifteen more years - this does not bode well for those who are most eager for large-scale domestic reforms. It might even augur an age of diminished capabilities for the federal government. Simplification of the government's role in life might make it easier for it to more effectively accomplish its remaining core competencies: those largely related to security.

Josh Manchester is a TCSDaily contributing writer. His blog is The Adventures of Chester (



curious notion...
It's curious that this author worries that the govnmt might not be able to function. It's the very nature of beaurocracies to be self perpetuating. After all their 'raison etre' is to take care of themselves, why wouldn't they if there were no 'lider maximo'? In fact I would contend that the people would be better of if both leaders and snivelling beaurocrats all disappeared. WE might even say that all those millions who live underground, use black markets etc. are already out there without using govnmt and bearocrats. What would happen if everybody did it? Then everybody would be free. But of course in such a scenario, even if the US became isolationist, enemies would still attack it. Still no problem, because then real americans would be able to fight back without the marquis of queensbury's rule, or a million military lawyers looking over their soldiers backs.

Be good if it seemed the Government in Time of War was competent.
If Bush is letting everything else slide so he can concentrate of the war, the results of that concentration are not really encouraging.

This elecion cycle, fear is the Republican campain platform. You should be afraid of AlQaeda. Only the Republicans can protect you.

This "war on terror" exists mainly in the minds of Republican politicians, and then mainly as slogan. If it really were a war, they would dedicate resources to fighing it. They would care whether the Iraq reconstruction happened, etc.

And, as Lemuel said, American voters are not impressed with the President's war fighting skills.

It's a war that Bush started !
It's hard to feel sorry for President Bush being on war footing. The fact is that there is no war, excep the war in Iraq which our government was rash and stupid enough to start in the first place. This is generally recognized as a bad decision by nearly everyone (leave it to the Bush administration to attack the one member of the Axis of Evil without nuclear weapons).

Regarding this so-called War on Terror, it is largely fear-mongering on the part of the Bush administration. Are there terrorists out there trying for another 9/11 attack? Sure, but they are largely ineffectual and the threat is way overblown. More people die in one year from food poisoning than in the 9/11 attacks, but we don't see a War on Food Poisoning (thank goodness).

I'm sorry. I can't give Bush and the Republicans a pass on their reckless spending and expansion of federal power just because of their War on Terror.

"but they (terrorists?) are largely ineffectual"

Now for balance, we'll get the democratic platform

Nebulous, isn't it?

(Brownian Motion to be sure)

Finally Somebody who's pseudonym is accurate
Besides me.

You're definitely mad.

4.4% Unemployment, Surging Federal Tax Collections (Revenues)
Sorry, there's no such thing as tax revenue- revenue is earned, not confiscated.

Thought you guys loved jobs and increased taxes.

Competency -Repeal the Amendment -Clinton 2008! (Mr. Bill, Not the Shrew)
On Ethics:
I'm Bill Clinton and I did and got away with things Mark Foley could dream of..I'm only going to say this once: Indeed I did have an inappropriate relationship (wink)

On International Relations:
I hurled cruise missiles at aspirin factories, gave away sensitive technologies and Cuban orphans, got us involved in a conflict in the Balkans where there's no exit strategy (or progress but hey, I get away with a lot), gave the North Koreans valuable technology for their nuclear enerrgy program.

On Protecting Children:
I saved them kids from a evil cult, I had my AG incinerate them!

If reelected President, I'll undo years of Republican neglect, but if I can't, I'll tell you I tried harder at it than anything else I've even tried to do- and the 40% percent of you out there that believe Thomas Nast chose to represent the Democratic Party as a jackass as a compliment to the nobility of the beast-you'll still be my loyal minions.


How do liberals really feel about the troops.
Earlier this week Seymour Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker, denounced America's military in a speech he delivered in a foreign country. McGill Daily has this account of Hersh's talk at the Montreal university:

"The bad news," investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told a Montreal audience last Wednesday, "is that there are 816 days left in the reign of King George II of America."

The good news? "When we wake up tomorrow morning, there will be one less day." . . .

If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.

"In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation," he said. "It isn't happening now, but I will tell you--there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq."


What was it the liberals keep telling us about how they actually support the troops?

In another quote Hersh talks proudly of how soldiers were spat upon and otherwise abused whenever they made the mistake of wearing their uniforms.

Terrorists urge US voters to vote Democratic this year

No Subject
Wanna bet our local left wing fringe denounces the source without ever dealing with the issues raised by the article?

War's going great, isn't it?
And tax revenues may be up, but the budget deficit is still awash in red ink, and so is our balance of payments. Lucky we don't have the Clinton economic problems -- wait....

That bungler Clinton: only 60 percent approval ratings!
and a budget in surplus and Milosevic on trial after a short and effective military campaign. maybe I detect a little hate-- no, never: Bush is the only President Americans have ever hated.

speaking of competence: Here's what TCS star contributor Ken Adelman is saying now about GW
From Vanity Fair

Kenneth Adelman, a lifelong neocon activist and Pentagon insider who served on the Defense Policy Board until 2005, wrote a famous op-ed article in The Washington Post in February 2002, arguing: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." Now he says, "I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."
Fearing that worse is still to come, Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself—what he defines as "the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world"—is dead, at least for a generation. After Iraq, he says, "it's not going to sell." And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."

another botched joke?
"Bush is the only President Americans have ever hated." Another unbelievably stupid and innaccurate statement by this board's pseudo savant. I'll be interested in his defense of his own statement.

I don't hate Clinton, its only you snarling, emotion driven prisoners of your own delusions that can hate a man you don't know and never even met.

I don't respect Clinton.

Milosovec was a freaking boy scout compared to Hussein, but the gassing of those insignificant Kurds, the victims of Uday & Qusay.. I guess swarthy skinned victims aren't worth the bother.

With every post, you show what a colassally ignorant and undisciplined ass you really are.

Perhaps thats why you live on TCS-nobody could stand to be with you in person.

"Lemuel" the Indefensible
Or Eric or Furtunato or whatever the hell he's calling himself until this pseudonym is so thoroughy discredited and the source of obvious immediate derision and dismissal posts furiously, considers his statements relevant, clear, accurate and valid on everything - don't hold your breath waiting for an defense. His currency is ipse dixits

He's as much a savant as a guy with the farmer's almanac is a meteorologist. (apologies to the FA, they get a forecast right now and again). Of course, he's got a better source on weather matters- GLOWBALL WORMING blogs.

Point Taken- Apology Offered

Yes, it it is a joke
Except it's not funny. We have loons screaching about saying all criticism of Bush is "hate" who were full time haters when Clinton was president.

zero for zero
I see you can't post on topic, but instead have to fill the site up with personal invective.

Glad you don't hate Clinton
I don't hate Bush; I just think he's incompetent. I don't hate you; sorry you hate me, but I guess nothing else is going on in your life.

What Democratic Platform?
I havn't found one.

how they actually support the troops?
Maybe you ought to head on over to and look up your local representatives before you tell everyone how liberals actually support the troops. The site is non-partisan and is run by veterans that have since returned from Iraq.

I've looked at a number of "troop supporting" republicans that ended up only doing so in speech - but they have voted against veterans appropriations bills lock, stock and barrel. Strangely enough, it is the "liberals" that seem to vote to restore funding this administration and it's so-called troop-supporting house of representatives keep trying to take away.

I would advise knowing who you're talking about lest you fall into the same mess the president has in Iraq. He failed to understand his adversaries in Iraq (and virtually everywhere else) and is directly for the myriad failures of what passes today for foreign or military policy.

Ken Andelman is correct: we may agree with the intent of the policies - but this administration is horribly incompetant.

I think that you are the joke. All presidents have been unpopular during wartime especially amongst their political opponents, anti-war activists, and enemy sympathizers. There is a truism for you.

Glad you get it
The point was just that Republican image makers have been saying that any and all criticism of Bush is "hatred," losing sight of the fact that all presidents get criticism, and not just from enemy sympathizers. Glad you recognize this.

to Superheater re Lemuel
RE him changing his pseudonom again, we'll know it for sure who he is the next change when we see him calling me a nazzziii again, right? Plus never answering my comments.

Liberals don't actually read the Constitution
Liberals don't actually read the Constitution, because if they did they would get to the part that talks about "aid and comfort" and shut up.

Some do
The "treason" clause does indeed proscribe adhering to our enemies. But it's a stretch to extend that to the mere criticism of despots and tyrants-- which we are reminded pointedly by people like Thomas Paine, is every man's duty as a citizen.

What are we to make of this other clause:

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Manifestly we are not in the midst of either a rebellion or an invasion. Yet habeas corpus is now obeyed only at the option of the sovereign. Should we then stand up, or be silent?

In Time of War: Army Times says "Rumsfeld Must Go"

Time for Rumsfeld to go

"So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.

But until recently, the "hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been
difficult to come by from leaders in Washington.

One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals
eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism
equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate.
Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the
war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his
term in the White House.


This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins
Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

Adelman has learned from our experience
In a subliterate culture, every thirty years a generation will arise that has no consciousness of our nation's past mistakes.

Despite all of the efforts of the left and the government schools to revise history and teach revisionist history, we have a generation that has "no consciousness of our nation's past mistakes".

Despite the expenditure of $10-13k per student per year, we live in "a subliterate culture".

We should all bow our heads and thank *** for Roy Bean, Lemuel and LG. Without their oversight and input, we wouldn't know how truly uneducated and uninformed we are.

"Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked
The Constitution requires civilian leadership of the military.

Do you advocate something else?

So, you're not in favor of supporting our troops
It's obvious you want the terrorists to win.

More specifically: yes, the constitution requires civilian leadership of the military. It does not require that this leadership be incompetent. Do you advocate something else? Or maybe you think the fact that troops in the field think that the leadership is blowing it is irrelevant. Is that what you call supporting the troops?

We have a government that's bamboozled a large percentage of the population
And it seems to be the conservatives that aren't able to read or put 2 and 2 together, and a ultrarightwing government that can't run a competent operation, military, rescue, or other.

But, sure, blame the liberals. You have no alternative between that and admitting failure.

Reading and advocation of adherence are not the same.
Otherwise DC would not ban firearms.

Education: more than spending needed
You blithely elude the obvious context of my remarks, which is the lesson of the Vietnam experience.

We should have leanred the folly of engaging in optional military foreign entanglements. And for a generation, that lesson was learned. But the next generation was not taught. So they fell for the great provocation again, just as though the first had never happened.

But alas, I fear for some of us even now. Now matter how much more protracted our folly in Iraq becomes, there will be those who still don't know "how truly uneducated and uninformed" they are.

BTW North Carolina only spends $3,000 a year to educate our students. They are no dumber nor any wiser than anyone else's students. But look at all the money we save!

Congress can pull the plug anytime

So you don't want victory??
The people in the field say it's all being done wrong. But you say, don't listen to them. Why won't you support our troops? Why do you hate America. Why do you want the terrorists to win?

Advocation of adherence?
This is a new philosophy to me. So you're saying that if firearms were to be unrestricted in DC the incidence of gun crimes would diminish?

Half the public east of Rock Creek Park already drives around with a revolver in the glove-- and it hasn't noticeably reduced crime yet.

When the going gets tough...
...all the liberals have been demanding that we bring the 'troops' home.

So what does that say to the oppostion?

All the oppostion has to do is to keep the pot stirred, keep sniping at American military personnel and the liberals will convince the Congress to pull them out, just as was done in Somalia and Vietnam.

So, what have you done to support victory?

Where is Rock Creek Park?
So you can be selective in which part of the Constitution you want to agree with?

Every jurisdiction with restictive gun laws have more crime.

Criminals don't like victims that might shoot back. If every teacher or principal could have a concealed weapon in class, how many students would risk using a weapon at school? And if they did, an armed school employee might save a few students.

And as for DC gun laws, they have not reduced crime, have they?

Arguably, from a US perspective,...
participation in W1, WW2 (in Europe), Korea and Gulf War 1 were also optional. However, the alternatives were judged to be unacceptable. Vietnam demonstrated the inability of US politicians to do what was right in the face of continuous distortions of the "facts on the ground" by the left tributary media.

BTW, the correct number is $7327.60 (NC-2006), not including the annualized per pupil cost of facilities, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction. Check your facts!

Don't even hate you
Despite all your efforts to invoke it- you just aren't that important to me that I'd invest that much emotional energy. Plenty going on-move away from Mom, get a professional job that requires ongoing training, buy a house, find a decent organization where you can volunteer your time a couple hundred hours a year-you'll know what I mean.

to Dietmar re Lemuel
I noticed that tendency he has to dismiss you that way-don't worry too much- we're all parties to a tempest in a teapot and posting here is a testament to our narcissism.

Dear Ignoramus:
Lincoln was so hated that the South seceded rather than be a part of his administration.
Learn some history; it's rude to be flamebait.

If you think the Bush administration is right wing, you are utterly clueless. The sort of government intrusions in economics and private life Bush has promoted put him halfway between center and left.

Conservatism, war, and economics.
In order to effectively fight a war, especially a long-term war, a strong economy is necessary. Since conservative economic policies are the only ones in line with reality, they are required to fight the war (or they would be, if we actually had a strong enemy). If Bush were serious about fighting the war, there would be no economy-draining prescription drug program, no "bridge to nowhere", and none of the other myriad of obvious economic blunders he and Congress have allowed.
It is shameful that the economy has been bungled (although the tax cuts are good) and it's horrid that the war has been fought in such a half-hearted manner. The only consolation is that democrat policies as displayed by Clinton and Carter were much, much worse.
All that saves us is that our enemies (and to a lesser extent our friendly competitors) are more economically and politically incompetent than we are. It's not something that's good to rely on.

What have you done to support victory??? The troops say, get rid of Rumsfeld
Why don't you want to win?? Why are you helping the enemy? Why do you hate America???

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