Natan Sharansky must be sad that April has rolled along and Dubya has not invited him over to the Oval Office for lunch and a chat.
So, Sharansky has written as obseqious a letter to the President as one can imagine via the Wall Street Journal.
It turns out, however, that the way Sharansky describes Bush in his opener is pretty accurate:
There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.
Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader’s lifeline is the electorate’s pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.
That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.
With a dogged determination that any dissident can appreciate, Mr. Bush, faced with overwhelming opposition, stands his ideological ground, motivated in large measure by what appears to be a refusal to countenance moral failure.
Yes, the President is such a dissident that he is on the basis of principle seemingly willing to try and permanently change the system of checks and balances that has helped make this nation a great democracy.
Mr. Sharansky — this is for you — please note that a dissident President as you have described is not a President but presumes to be a monarch.
You are not celebrating democracy in your article — you are calling for the type of zealotry that breeds chaos and which, if Bush were to succeed in the kind of plan you call for, would cause this nation’s collapse.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: Thanks to BB for the WSJ link.