Ms. Newmark shakes her head in disgust at Harry Reid’s unfathomable stupidity and his nasty, quite wrong, undiplomatic, extremely partisan and hapless (considering the US President is on foreign soil) remarks. Then she reminds us of some of his other nasty, quite wrong, undiplomatic, extremely partisan remarks.
Ms. Newmark suggests that Reid is a dim bulb who should try shutting his yap, sometimes. I concur. And I cannot help but counter Reid’s assertion that President Bush is “a loser…[who is] doing a bad job” with this quite differently thought-out op-ed piece from the Baltimore Sun, which no one on planet earth would call a “Bush-friendly” newspaper: (H/T Democracy Project)
Signs of Bush’s success can’t be dismissed
By Herbert London
…Still others view the president’s claims for democracy as a form of utopianism that like most utopias increases hope and accelerates failure.
That said, there are signs that the president’s policy is working, notwithstanding the criticism.
Surely the election in Iraq was a remarkable development and a clear sign that the people of that embattled nation wish to participate in the affairs of state. Despite delays and complications in establishing a government, the vote was an extraordinary triumph. Even ardent critics admit as much, although they rarely give Mr. Bush credit for the outcome. In their biased eyes, it is a manifestation of deus ex machina or spontaneous combustion, anything but Mr. Bush.
But there are other signs that have gone unnoticed or unreported.
On an Israeli television program in early February, an Egyptian politician who intends to run against President Hosni Mubarak said Egypt has much to learn from Israel. He proceeded to discuss the openness in Israeli politics and the virtues of democracy.
That an aspiring Egyptian politician would say this on a TV news program is nothing short of miraculous. It is inconceivable that this kind of admission could have been made three years ago.
Is this a sign of political liberalization in Egypt? It is too soon to say, but without the president’s commitment to democracy, even this modest gesture would not have been possible.
Perhaps more noteworthy is the reaction of the Iranian students to Mr. Bush’s plea for democracy. The Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors Arab television programs, caught an address that President Mohammad Khatami made at an Iranian university in December.
The auditorium was filled with students as Mr. Khatami explained government policy on a host of issues. After only a few minutes, several students started shouting, “Don’t lie to us,” “No more lies.” Then a few more raised their voices. Finally, everyone in the auditorium was shouting. Mr. Khatami could not continue.
This episode was censored for Iranian TV, of course. But censorship does not eliminate student sentiment opposed to the ruling mullahs and for democratic expression.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn once remarked that if the totalitarians covered the Earth in cement, there would be a crack and from it would emerge a plant. Despite all of the efforts to control free expression, despite the gulags and the secret police, despite radical mullahs and terror groups, the desire for democracy is inextinguishable.
This is what Mr. Bush is counting on. The tyrannies in the Arab world have received the message. It is not clear which one will next be in the president’s sights, but if I were the Syrian or Iranian president, I would not be sleeping soundly.
This, I should hastily note, is not merely a military battle; it is – to use a well-worn cliché – a war of ideas. It is largely a question of letting grass-roots organizations make the democratic arguments the president has unleashed.
One prominent resident of the West Bank told me that Mr. Bush has caused a veritable tsunami in Palestinian political circles. If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas seems more conciliatory than Yasser Arafat, that can be explained, he noted, by Mr. Bush’s actions and words.
Can the Bush Doctrine spread like political ripples across the region? Is this democratic impulse sustainable? Can democracy take hold in a region where the rule of law and individual rights haven’t taken root? Is Islam compatible with democracy? Questions abound.
Yet what is also clear is that the Bush Doctrine, the call for the spread of democracy, is having an effect. I am reasonably confident that from these small signs of openness and rebellion, big effects might emerge. This might not happen in my lifetime, but it will happen. And for this, Mr. Bush deserves our collective gratitude.
And Mr. Reid, and his pals…what exactly have they brought to the table in the last four years beyond sneers, jeers and the incessant “NO,” can anyone answer that? Anyone? Anyone? Can someone tell me Mr. Reid’s solution to the Social Security situation? To terrorism? To Immigration? To teenage angst? Anyone? Anyone?
What a deafening silence. What a freaking LOSER.