Victim of His Own Success

To a large extent, President George W. Bush has been a victim of his own success. His administration’s prosecution of the War on Terror has been far more successful than is generally believed. This is primarily evidenced by the fact that there has not been an attack on the US homeland or a major US installation abroad since the attacks of September 11, 2001. I often ask critics of this president if they would have believed that there would not be another al-Qaida attack against us for over eight years. The answer is often "no, but…"

In politics, there is "no, but…" The person in charge (in this case, the President), is given the blame or the credit. It is amusing that his critics are more than willing to blame him for everything from the financial crisis to increased hurricane activity, yet they will not give him credit for keeping us safe from Islamic extremists.

The policies of this administration, including the terrorist surveillance program, disruption of the terrorists' financing system and the detainment of the most dangerous extremists, has, in fact, made us safer. The proof is the failure of al-Qaida and its allies to launch a successful attack against us.

This success has led to complacency among the American public about the nature of the threat of Islamic extremists. Therefore, the focus in the media and among the chattering class has turned to the areas in which this administration has not lived up to its promise. It clearly allowed Congress to spend too much. It never really worked hard for Social Security reform. The situation in Iraq following the capture of Bagdad and prior to the surge was poor, to say the least. Its handling of immigration reform was less than spectacular, and on and on it goes. But, none of this would be relevant if the threat of terrorists inside of our borders was perceived to be America's number one challenge.

President Bush is reported to believe that once President-Elect Obama receives a number of detailed presidential intelligence briefs, Mr. Obama will fully understand the nature of the threat that we still face from the Islamic terrorist groups. I hope that the president-elect reaches this conclusion. If so, we will see a change in Mr. Obama’s world view and he will, therefore, retain a large number of Mr. Bush’s anti-terrorist programs. This will, in part, help to vindicate the Bush administration on the single most important issue of our time.

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