(13) QUESTION: One short comment on having been a Senator for these years. You’ve been a part of the conservative and the evangelical (groups). How do you think the world and the U.S. later on will view the current president’s outgoing legacy?
I was having this discussion with someone yesterday. George Bush has as good a chance as any President in recent history of having happen to him what happened to Harry Truman. I think he will be – he’s obviously wildly unpopular. I think historical events will prove that, while certainly as did Truman, he made his share of mistakes, that on the big issues, he stood by his principles and he fought for things where the interests of America were long term.
And he is to be faulted, again as Truman, but in an era where it matters more; he is to be faulted for being a poor communicator. As Truman was, he was a very poor communicator. But in 1948, it didn’t matter because you weren’t on television every day. You could be a poor communicator and get away with it. That’s not the case now. He’s a very poor communicator. I think he’s been ill-served by his communications staff. And he took on some issues that he needed to do a better job in convincing the American public.
And I would argue, and one of the things I talk about in my program, is that he needs to be more honest with the American public about who the enemy is in this. And he hasn’t been. If anything, he will be faulted for buying in to the State Department’s unwillingness to identify the enemy for who they are — and that is people motivated by faith. And that Islam is part of the deal here. They are in a holy war, and we choose to say we’re not when we are, with these folks. And Islam and religion is a big part of this. Any war that we are engaged in has a physical front and an ideological front. And we refuse to engage the ideological front because we refuse to acknowledge what their ideology is. We refuse to engage it.
And that’s why I think the American public has abandoned ship on this war. It’s because if you don’t know why we’re fighting, if it’s just a bunch of folks living in caves who randomly attack us if they get the chance, what’s the great threat? They’re not attacking us anymore. We’ve debilitated them. It has to be explained to Americans. Americans have no idea.
You come from countries, some of you, where Muslims are very prevalent and everybody understands. Americans have no concept of what Islam is. None whatsoever. And no idea what Muslims believe. None. None. I give speeches all over, and I ask questions, basic questions. No idea. No idea. No idea of the history. So we’re this ignorant group of folks who understand, yeah, they’re Muslims, but, okay, they might as well be Siberians. It’s just a term. It doesn’t mean anything to them.
And so we have an uneducated public who is asked to endure pain: high oil prices, deaths of our soldiers, vilification by the world. For what? Because a bunch of terrorists want to hurt us. Well, so what? Let’s leave. If there’s no consequences to leaving – if there’s no consequences to losing – why win? Why go through the price of winning, if there’s no consequence to losing?
They don’t understand the consequences. And this President refuses, and will refuse, to tell them the consequences because he’s been told that you can’t offend our allies in the region. You can’t offend Muslims in this country. You can’t talk about it. You can’t talk about Islam. It’s counter to what American interest is. I disagree with that, and I have done so. And I got creamed in my election for doing it, but I’ll continue to talk about it.
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