Unable to defend the policy, Schwarzenegger defends Bush as “a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn’t flinch, who doesn’t waver, who does not back down.” But “inner strength” is exactly the kind of New Age pap no hard-headed Republican should fall for. Accountability means judging a president by visible results. Schwarzenegger says leadership is “about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions.” Fine. But standing behind your decisions means taking responsibility at election time. This is election time, and Bush’s decisions have turned out to be disastrously wrong.
Schwarzenegger applauds Bush for taking a hard line on terrorism. So do I. Bush’s clarity on this subject is his finest quality. But it doesn’t make his foreign policy wise, any more than liberal piety about compassion makes liberal social programs effective. In Iraq, Bush has confused a mortal enemy with a less urgent one, and he has botched the worthy idea of American military leadership by biting off more than we can chew. The hatred manifested by terrorists “is no match for America’s decency,” Schwarzenegger opines. Decency? Do you think we’re going to defeat Osama Bin Laden with decency? That’s liberal talk. What we need is smart allocation of our resources. At this, Bush has utterly failed.
Brad DeLong was right: Saletan, a moderate Republican, has been fully initiated as a member of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill.