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Times of War Call for Leaders

The Washington Post has a big story today, titled: "Newly Emboldened Congress Has Dogged Bush This Year."

It is healthy and expected that even a Republican Congress should, from time to time, disagree with the Republican President of the United States. We have a separation of powers, and as a fortune cookie once told me, "If people always get along, one of them is the boss."

But, times of war call for leaders. We don’t think of Parliament or Congress leading countries through tough times. We think of men like Winston Churchill, Abe Lincoln, and FDR. Deliberative bodies may be good for a lot of things, but they aren’t known for their "leadership" qualities. During difficult times, executive power tends to increase out of necessity.

For this reason, if America’s liberties are ever taken away, they will probably be taken, “for our own good." I’m certainly not comparing any U.S. President (past or present) with a tyrant. However, other countries have certainly experienced the rise of a "strong man" who seized power under the guise that it would be "temporary." Every American must remain vigilant, regarding preserving freedom.

And, by the way, the most compelling Republican arguments against the Patriot Act have come from Republicans like Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who argue that these powers could be exploited by a future Democrat President and Attorney General.  

As you can see, even I struggle with these questions. Yes, even this social conservative has a libertarian streak, from time to time.

I think these disagreements are a healthy part of Democracy. Congress should not be expected to toe the line. By the same token, on the Patriot Act, I still come down on the side of President Bush. Here’s why:

First, it’s now old-hat to say, but 9-11 truly was a call to arms. We are in a war we cannot lose, against radical Islam, plain and simple.

Second, I always can tell if I’m on the right side by looking at the players. Look at the Democrats (even Tom Daschle has weighed in on the whole "eavesdropping" thing) — and the Republican Senators (who filibustered the Patriot Act) — and tell me where you fit in…

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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