Peggy Noonan: Bush must lead by admitting the anti-war crowd was right

posted at 1:31 pm on August 31, 2007 by Allahpundit

We’ve gotten more comments on the headline for this piece than any other item thus far, which I’ll take as my cue to bring it down here to Broadway. We need some basic consensus going forward, she says, and the first step towards that is Bush sucking it up, acknowledging things are a mess, and asking for help from the left to make the best of it. I think that gives war opponents both too much credit and too little. The hardline Bush-haters will never reconcile with him, a fact she seems here to acknowledge but ultimately, I guess, doesn’t:

From the pro-war forces, the surge supporters and those who supported the Iraq invasion from the beginning, what is needed is a new modesty of approach, a willingness to admit it hasn’t quite gone according to plan. A moral humility. Not meekness–great powers aren’t helped by meekness–but maturity, a shown respect for the convictions of others.

What we often see instead, lately, is the last refuge of the adolescent: defiance. An attitude of Oh yeah? We’re Lincoln, you’re McClellan. We care about the troops and you don’t. We care about the good Iraqis who cast their lot with us. You’d just as soon they hang from the skids of the last helicopter off the embassy roof. They have been called thuggish. Is this wholly unfair?

The antiwar forces, the surge opponents, the “I was against it from the beginning” people are, some of them, indulging in grim, and mindless, triumphalism. They show a smirk of pleasure at bad news that has been brought by the other team. Some have a terrible quaking fear that something good might happen in Iraq, that the situation might be redeemed. Their great interest is that Bushism be laid low and the president humiliated. They make lists of those who supported Iraq and who must be read out of polite society. Might these attitudes be called thuggish also?

They might, just as they might also be called irretrievable and not worth bothering about. For the more principled war opponents, though, what good will flattering their egos do? They don’t want to be told they’re right, they want to get American troops out of what they consider a hopeless situation. Noonan makes it sound like a lovers’ quarrel, where a little cajoling might heal the rift enough to go forward:

His foes feel a tight-jawed bitterness. They believe it was his job not to put America in a position in which its security is imperiled; they resent his invitation to share responsibility for outcomes of decisions they opposed. And they resent it especially because he grants them nothing–no previous wisdom, no good intent–beyond a few stray words here and there…

Would it help if the president were graceful, humble, and asked for help? Why, yes. Would it help if he credited those who opposed him with not only good motives but actual wisdom? Yes. And if he tried it, it would make news. It would really, as his press aides say, break through the clutter.

Exit question: How’s it going to break through “clutter” like this?

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Comment pages: 1 2

President Bush can make a lot of improvements in his Iraq war strategy, but reaching out to the left is not one of them. The only thing I have to extend to the anti war left is my middle finger.

austinnelly on September 1, 2007 at 9:24 AM

Very well put. We can not negotiate with tribes of fatalistic, 7th century goat-herders any more than we can with the leftists. Both are so blinded by either ideology or hatred (or both), reason is lost on them.

Texas Nick 77 on September 1, 2007 at 9:46 AM

I am more surprised at the hateful back biting critical comments about her writing and her character arrogance…
AprilOrit on September 1, 2007 at 2:49 AM

Sorry, I had to fix that for you.
I have seen you level accusations on commentators in here that had no basis reality since you couldn’t know and it was simply not cool.
I think you know what I mean. All I ask is that you never do it again.

But here is the thing, we are simply pointing out where Peggy is wrong and you call it hateful?
That’s what you did to those commentators in an earlier post. So of course since you practice it you would know?
No, you just throw it at people who criticize Peggy whom you apparently identify with.

You also didn’t like Karl Rove calling out the elitist among us.
So in the true nature of Karl Rove I have flagged you as a biased elitist.

(Bonus points if you are a tall redhead) ;)

Mcguyver on September 1, 2007 at 10:26 AM

Mojave Mark-

It’s Noonan in America.


I’ll bet she wishes she’d said that.

profitsbeard on September 1, 2007 at 11:45 AM

I’m coming out of the closet — I’ve had a crush on Peggy Noonan for years, and she must be 20 yrs my senior.

realVerse on September 1, 2007 at 12:42 PM

DrSteve on August 31, 2007 at 9:02 PM

The nutroots aren’t on our side and we do not want them to be on our side. What we want is to allow Democrats that know being anti-Iraq after s omuch progress has been made is political suicide. The nutroots won’t go there they’ll whine and scratch and claw till the bitter end. That is the goal.

Imagine a Henry Cuellar and Ned Lamont situation happening nationwide. We can do that if we give the Democrats with some sense a way to save face when they support Iraq.

Theworldisnotenough on September 1, 2007 at 1:36 PM

We can not negotiate with tribes of fatalistic, 7th century goat-herders any more than we can with the leftists. Both are so blinded by either ideology or hatred (or both), reason is lost on them.
Texas Nick 77 on September 1, 2007 at 9:46 AM

The leftists and the terrorists are not just philosophically similar; they are STRATEGICALLY IDENTICAL.

They both want the same things:

1. For the US to leave Iraq and stop trying to “impose democracy” on the Middle East;

2. For the US to stop supporting, defending, and supplying arms to Israel;

3. For the US to “support our troops” – by taking them out of harm’’s way;

4. A constant stream of front-page stories in the media about “atrocities” committed by US soldiers;

5. Constant claims that the US “can’’t win” against terrorists;

6. News reports portraying terrorists as unstoppable supervillans: sort of like Lex Luthor only a little smarter and a lot more pious;

7. More dialogue between elected western officials and self-proclaimed terrorist “leaders;”

8. No action taken to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons;

9. George Bush out of office;

10. Worldwide unity.

There are only tactical differences between terrorists and liberals – in terms of their methodology. The first group plants the bombs, and the second helps spread the propaganda. But they are inextricably linked.

So, it is impossible to “compromise” with the liberals without at the same time appeasing terrorists. Because the two acts are the SAME THING.

logis on September 1, 2007 at 2:43 PM

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