Come hail or high water, I’m voting for Bush

I must confess-I am a “W” supporter. Have been and probably always will be. Perhaps my support stems, in part, from my disdain for Al Gore-in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush seemed the better choice to lead the nation in perilous times-and in the 2004 election, he still does.

One thing is for sure-John Kerry is a great politician. He’s like President Clinton in that he caters his policies to the liking of the people-he is swayed far too easily by polls and public opinion. He has, accordingly, earned the label of “flip-flopper” from the Bush campaign. Kerry has waffled on many important issues, including: the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, a gay marriage amendment, No Child Left Behind, death penalty for terrorists, affirmative action, federal health benefits, abortion, 50 cent gas increase and many others.

I’m not sure I want a president in the Oval Office who vacillates much like an oscillating fan. Like him or not, President Bush says it like it is and he does what he says he is going to do. It is that type of consistency that must be a factor in the voting booth come November.

Granted, Bush is not perfect, nor are all of his policies. I am not yet sold on his illegal immigration stance. I, like the rest of you, am unhappy about rising gas prices. And yes, it would be nice if we found evidence of the relocated or discarded weapons of mass destruction in Iraq-ones even Clinton and the United Nations knew existed (remember, under U.N. sanctions, Saddam had 12 years to come forth with his WMD-not dispose of them surreptitiously).

But concerning the War on Terror-which has garnered arguably more criticism for the president than any other issue-I believe Bush is doing all he can to confront new threats in an increasingly unstable world. Critics, including Kerry, contend that Bush should have gotten rid of Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11, 2001. It’s easier said than done, however. Just ask Clinton, who missed the opportunity to nail bin Laden when it would have at least been conceivable. Clinton knew bin Laden was a threat. In 1993, the World Trade Center bombing killed six people and five years later, 224 people were killed in the bombing of two U.S. Embassies in Africa. Bin Laden and al-Qaida were linked to both terrorist acts.

In response to the latter attack, Clinton said in 1998, “We will use all the means at our disposal to bring those responsible to justice, no matter what or how long it takes.” He knew it would not be easy. Yet, in the fall of 2000, Clinton had the opportunity to rid the world of one of its greatest masterminds of terrorism. Unmanned spy planes flew over Afghanistan and captured images of al-Qaida training camps with terrorists firing at targets and conducting military drills. Intelligence analysts believe, even now, that they identified bin Laden in the pictures that were transmitted to the CIA.

That’s about as close as we’ve come to finding and killing bin Laden. But critics of the current administration seem to forget how difficult it is to play “Where’s Waldo?” in a country covered by sand dunes and hidden caves. Why didn’t Bush strike at al-Qaida before Sept. 11, 2001? Al-Qaida had hinted at the possibility of a terrorist attack in the United States for years. It’s not easy to determine which of the threats to take seriously, especially when they come from a mastermind terrorist “crying wolf” in the desert.

If anybody is to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks, it is the Clinton administration, who had eight years of gathering threats, two significant attacks on Americans and the aforementioned CIA images to show that al-Qaida was serious about a much larger attack. Bush had less than eight months in office before he received the now famous Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing or PDB (not to be confused with PBJ) entitled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” The PDB warned him of another, more serious attack on American soil. It states that, in 1998, “a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks” and that “bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft.” It also revealed that “FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”

By that point, however, could anybody or anything have stopped al-Qaida’s perfectly clandestine operation? Surely the Sept. 11 attacks represent a culmination of years of covert planning and execution, all of which evaded intelligence agencies.

Admittedly this is a serious matter-even to the tune of nearly 3,000 lives. That is why the Sept. 11 hearings are a good thing. Any information that can help to prevent another series of terrorist attacks will be beneficial. But is Bush to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks? No more than Clinton is and likely less so. And yet the media-as evidenced by their barrage of criticism in Bush’s press conference on April 13-is demanding an apology from Bush. An apology from the Commander in Chief, however, would be a concession of guilt in the minds of most Americans, and Bush is not culpable for the attacks. He has admitted there was likely more that could have been done to prevent the attacks, but only in retrospect-and not alone during his tenure.

Should Bush lose a second term in the Oval Office because of Sept. 11? No. But if he does fall short of the requisite 270 electoral votes in November, it will likely be due to U.S. involvement in Iraq-another facet of the War on Terror. The American population is growing increasingly uneasy about the tensions in Iraq, in part, due to the liberal media which fails to report the progress that has been made in little more than one year. Have we forgotten that we were told, from the beginning, how difficult this war would be for all of us? On March 28, 2003, shortly after America-and Baghdad-learned the meaning of “shock and awe,” Bush told the American people we were in this for the long haul-“however long it takes” to procure peace for the Iraqi people. At his side was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who confirmed that the road to peace in Iraq would be long and hard. He said, “There is absolutely no point, in my view, of trying to set a time limit or speculate on it, because it’s not set by time. It’s set by the nature of the job.”

So we should not be surprised that military operations in Iraq have not ended. We are saddened by the tragic deaths of the soldiers and we mourn with their families over the loss of their loved ones. But this war has been relatively clean compared with other wars. The difference is that we are bombarded by war images on the nightly news, in our morning newspapers and on our laptops. Technology has brought the Iraq War into our living rooms, on our doorsteps and virtually anywhere we go. This has not been the case in preceding wars.

Bush also reminded us recently that our fight for freedom in America had its price tag in lives, only to a much greater extent.

With any hope, Americans will have the sense to sift through media reports which tend to paint a darker picture than actually exists in Iraq. Sensible citizens will also have the wisdom to know who is really to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks. Then they will choose a president who understands that the War on Terror is an ongoing battle, one that requires constant attention and a proactive response.

That is why I am a “W” supporter.

It is why I choose to vote for President Bush in November.

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