Originally created 04/01/04

Still tough on terror



The hunt is on for weapons of mass distraction.

President Bush's political enemies - and a complicit liberal media - are on constant lookout for any gaffe, any potential scandal that they can use to discredit the administration.

They tried to make hay out of the coalition's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Though that's disappointing, consider the fact that no one in human history ever had more advance warning of an impending invasion than Saddam Hussein. If he couldn't hide or destroy his weapons in a year's time, then he's loonier than we thought.

Then they hoped the president's use of images of ground zero in a re-election ad would cause a scandal. Sorry, guys. The image was brief, tasteful and germane to the president's legacy.

Then they tried to whip up outrage about the president's self-effacing humor at a recent banquet, in which he showed photos of himself searching under furniture and the like for weapons of mass destruction. Good grief!

Most recently the media feeding frenzy was about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's supposed failure to testify before the panel investigating the government's activities before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Well, Rice already had met with the panel in private, and was willing to do it again. But the crescendo built for public testimony.

Fine. The president has agreed to make Rice available - taking yet another pseudo-issue away from his media critics.

But he's done more than that. Much more.

The president also has agreed to join Vice President Dick Cheney in a private meeting with the Sept. 11 panel - something no other president has ever done. Why, President Lyndon Johnson even refused to meet with the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.

Will President Bush get credit for going the extra mile? Of course not. Partly because he probably did wait too long - who knew what a ruckus the media would strike up? But also largely because, it seems, the liberal media are on a massive hunt - perhaps surpassed only by the hunt for Osama bin Laden - to find weapons of mass distraction in the presidential campaign.

Polls show the hunt may be working - that public confidence in the administration's handling of the terror threat has eroded.

But why on earth? Certainly there were mistakes leading up to Sept. 11 - the vast majority of which occurred on President Clinton's eight-year watch. But has the Bush team fumbled the ball since? Afghanistan has been liberated and the Taliban/al-Qaida put on the run; Iraq has been liberated and a bedraggled Saddam Hussein lifted from his underground hideout; after supporting the Taliban, Pakistan has joined the good guys; Libya and Iran have submitted to weapons scrutiny; and despots elsewhere have been put on notice that this administration is serious and unafraid in its war on terror.

Might there be future attacks? Of course. Might we miss opportunities to foil them? Most likely. That's the chance you take in a free society.

But we remain supremely confident that this president and the remarkable team he has employed will give us our best shot at safety and security.

And we're certain that the indefatigable Condoleezza Rice will put many other minds at ease when she appears before the panel.