At the risk of sounding like a partisan Republican, let me say how proud I am of the job that President George W. Bush has done in the wake of an unprecedented two weeks in American history. Facing a challenge that few major leaders, if any, have had to face a mere nine months on the job, our new President has evolved in ten short days from being derisively labeled “W” to being universally hailed as Mr. President.
For a leader who, in my opinion, had shunned the limelight to his detriment during the first few months of his term, President Bush has flourished in the spotlight by providing calm, inspired leadership when our country needed it most. His quiet eloquence during the memorial service at the National Cathedral; the special way in which he connected with the rescue workers in New York; and the powerful emotion and patriotism he evoked in his speech to the joint session of Congress last week have all shown that President Bush is the right man for the job during this moment of national crisis.
It also helps to know that the people with whom he has chosen to surround himself are total professionals, including Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Ashcroft. Now, with the appointment of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to the new cabinet office of National Security, he has another competent pro to assist him in running the country. The job that Governor Ridge will hold may be the most important of them all, as we attempt to correct years of neglect in the nation’s intelligence gathering capabilities. We will need to turn it around in a hurry if we are to have any hope of catching terrorists working within our borders before they can strike again.
And even if it was short-lived, wasn’t it refreshing to see Congress putting aside the partisan bickering in a show of unity in our nation’s fight to stamp out global terrorism. We will need our national leaders to keep this united front when it comes to supporting the battle in which we are about to embark.
It won’t be an easy fight, and it will take time, patience, and an unswerving resolve. But the fact that the Bush administration has managed to quickly build a strong coalition of governments around the world who support a full scale attack on terrorism means we have a good chance at winning this fight. Because we can’t do it alone; these terrorists run a sophisticated, global operation which requires several types of attacks. First and foremost, we must take away their financial support. That means not only holding the governments accountable who have provided them safe haven, but also seeing that other nations seize the suspected assets and holdings of men like Osama bin Laden. He has to keep his money somewhere, and it can be traced. We also have to take away the refuges that have been created within several renegade countries. Bin Laden would not have had nearly the success he has enjoyed in the past few years if he didn’t have the protection of the Afghanistan government. That can no longer be allowed.
As was so well said by the President, this wasn’t just an attack on the United States; it was an attack on all freedom loving people around the world. And those people are now well aware that it could also happen to them at any time. Only by banding together with the other free nations of the world and refusing to give up or give in to these terrorists will our own way of life survive. That is what is at stake; that is why we must fight; and that is why we will win.