Dissident President

Wall Street Opinion Journal Natan Sharansky April 24, 2006

George W. Bush has the courage to speak out for freedom.

There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.

Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader’s lifeline is the electorate’s pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.

That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

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1 thought on “Dissident President

  1. It is said that “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

    The editors of the WSJ, and other conservative true believers would certainly embrace that thought when it comes to activist government social policies to address poverty. So why do they abandon it when it comes to the activist foreign policy of the neoconservatives?

    Mr. Bush does not deserve Natan Scharansky’s praise. Just having good intentions is not enough. Even an idea that might possibly have been well conceived at the start can be discredited if it is executed badly enough, and that is something the George Bush excels at. John Dean writes:

    He took the risk that he could capture Osama bin Laden with a small group of CIA operatives and U.S. Army Special forces – and he failed. He took the risk that he could invade Iraq and control the country with fewer troops and less planning than the generals and State Department told him would be possible – and he failed. He took the risk that he could ignore the criminal laws prohibiting torture and the warrantless wiretapping of Americans without being caught – he failed. And he’s taken the risk that he can cut the taxes for the rich and run up huge financial deficits without hurting the economy. This, too, will fail, though the consequences will likely fall on future presidents and generations who must repay Bush’s debts.

    “If Past Is Prologue, George Bush Is Becoming An Increasingly Dangerous President”

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