Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Britons Are So Wrong about Bush the Brave; by David Frum Special Assistant to President Bush, 2001-2002

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Britons Are So Wrong about Bush the Brave; by David Frum Special Assistant to President Bush, 2001-2002

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID FRUM

AFTER my book on President Bush was published in the United States, I was interviewed by a British journalist about the relationship between Bush and Blair.

He asked me what these two very different men could possibly find to talk about, and I suggested religion. He visibly winced. "You don't think they pray together do you?" "You say that," I answered, "as if it were worse than showering together." "I suppose I would find that less disturbing."

British people distrust George W Bush's public religiosity. They don't much care either for his verbal stumbles, or his lack of concern about global warming, or his indifference to the UN.

This dislike is bad news, and not just for Mr Bush. The low regard for him in Britain is weakening the Anglo-American alliance, on which the peace of the world has depended for nearly 90 years.

But there are also grounds for hope that now the British will come to change their minds.

When I went to work for Mr Bush in January 2001, I found that the better I knew him, the more I liked him.

Many Britons continue to believe that he is not merely occasionally tongue-tied, but downright stupid. When pressed to explain how he has managed to function as an effective chief executive, these critics reply that he gets good advice, as if advice came in envelopes labelled "good advice" and "bad advice".

Mr Bush's mind is not crammed with facts and figures. But he has tremendous focus. He can instantly separate the essential from the inessential. And he has the presidential temperament, the moral courage to make decisions and stick to them.

His war leadership is defined by three characteristics that you would not normally expect to see together: boldness, moderation, and persistence.

Whenever Mr Bush has had to make a wartime decision, he has opted for the boldest choice. He decided to fight Hezbollah as well as al Qaeda and Iraq as well as the organised terrorist groups. He sought the overthrow of not only the Taliban but also Saddam. He is pushing not for any Palestinian state, but for a democratic Palestinian state.

Some may regard these choices as over-ambitious. …

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