EDITORIAL: President Bush finally starts firing back

The war in Iraq gone haywire. Poor response to Hurricane Katrina. Scandals in Congress regarding top Republican officials. Putting out Supreme Court nominees that even many Republicans don’t agree with. An indictment in the CIA leak case.

Wow. This is just stuff that happened in the past two to three months. Bush still has a good three years to go. Hmm, he better defend himself before his approval rates go lower than the latest Associated Press poll that states a 37 percent job approval for the president.

With body counts in Iraq climbing and approval rates dropping, the president finally fired back Friday in response to much of the criticism he’s received, mainly regarding the Iraq war.

“The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges,” Bush said.

To sum it up, Bush accused critics of “rewriting history” and claimed they were undermining American efforts in the war. If anything, it’s the American public that is undermining the president. The AP reported Saturday “almost six in 10 now say Bush is not honest, and a similar number say his administration does not have high ethical standards.”

Bush’s strategy to aggressively respond to his criticism was refreshing to watch, but it was nothing new. The AP further stated the speech is a part of “a coordinated campaign to respond forcefully to accusations that prewar intelligence was manipulated.” National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman were asked to join the team “to defend Bush or criticize Democrats.”

This game plan is similar to a page of his 2004 re-election playbook where Bush (or should we say his speechwriters) carefully spins his words to come a few steps short of saying his critics are unpatriotic.

But criticism regarding the president, now more than ever, is coming from both political parties. While Bush was firing back Friday, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) told reporters that the war in Iraq was “less than optimal” and “maybe some blame could be laid” at the White House.

Considering Bush also could be losing his own party’s support, what he should be doing is a better job at taking this criticism seriously. In fact, not only do almost 60 percent of Americans distrust the president, but also 82 percent of people in that same poll describe the president as “stubborn.”

While this editorial board agrees the administration should focus more on getting the job done in Iraq, investigations into pre-war intelligence and those officials involved with it should be done aggressively and thoroughly.

Unlike what the president said, there is nothing wrong with rewriting history if it means it will be rewritten correctly. If it weren’t for efforts to rewrite history, kids in school would still be learning that slavery in the 1800s wasn’t so bad, and Christopher Columbus was an exploratory hero. (One could make the argument that kids today are still learning these things.)

Although addressing his criticism is a start, Bush needs more than words to get him out of this jam.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.