Charles Krauthammer praises the President for his strong State of the Union address, noting President Bush is playing against type by pushing for an expansion of the war on terror, rather than trying to use his popularity to address domestic issues. This is a point that has been little noted by the press to date, although Kevin Phillips attacked the President for it yesterday. Soon, this will become a major issue.
The elites want the war to be over. They don't know much about war, but they know they don't like it in general, and any war that makes a Republican President look good is even worse. Sure, we had to do something about September 11, but we got to blow up Afghanistan; what more do we want? No, the consensus building in the elite is that it's time to end the war and get back to what really matters: social measures here at home.
Phillips's piece is a perfect example of this. "Justifiable retaliation may be turning into a wider crusade." This war was never about retaliation, despite what Phillips and his ilk believe. Retaliation is nice, and we'd all love to see Osama strung up by his thumbs, but the business of government is not making us feel good. It's protecting its citizens. That's what government is really about, that's what makes government important. We could (and should, in many cases) throw out all the welfare, social security, flatulence research projects and so on, and government would still be important, because government's primary purpose is the defense of its citizens. The American government failed decisively on September 11, and only the actions of a few courageous souls kept the disaster from being even worse than it was.
If it were up to Mr. Phillips, government would do nothing to ensure the security of its citizens in the future. We're permitted to retaliate when terrorists hit us, but not to preemptively remove threats against us. Fortunately for all of us, President Bush understands our mission is larger than that. We need to go after all terrorists everywhere, and the states that sponsor them, so they're not able to conduct another attack like September 11. Despite Paul Krugman's ludicrous beliefs, Enron is a minor issue for government. Terrorism is a major threat to all Americans, and that means the American government needs to do everything it can within the Constitution to attack terrorists and protect American citizens.
It would be lovely if we could return to the days when the most important question in government is whether the rich should pay 40% of all tax dollars, or 60%. But those days are behind us for the foreseeable future. The President clearly understands this. The rest of the government needs to get with the program.