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Ex-White House press secretary supports ‘peace through strength’
October 26th, 2007
Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer was raised a liberal Democrat, and he says his parents apparently have never fully accepted his change of political heart.
In fact, as Fleischer told an audience of about 85 at the Harry & Rose Samson Jewish Community Center Monday night, his father once said to a reporter words to the effect that “If my son is going to rebel, it’s better that he become a Republican than a drug dealer — but not by much.”
Fleischer can joke about the seeming anomalous status he and his fellow members of the Republican Jewish Coalition have in a U.S. Jewish community that has voted overwhelmingly Democratic since the 1930s.
But Fleischer, who now heads his own press-relations consulting firm, did not joke about the reasons that he is devoted to the GOP and to President George W. Bush in his remarks at the event, which was sponsored by the relatively new Wisconsin chapter of the RJC.
To Fleischer, the Republicans are the party advocating “peace through strength,” while the Democrats advocate “weakness abroad and creeping socialism at home.”
Fleischer’s career at the White House (2001-03) included such important events as the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘Age of terror’
In one of the most memorable moments of his time there, Fleischer said, he attended a meeting Bush had in February 2002 with then-national security advisor and now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a guest.
Bush asked the guest if the U.S. should remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and the guest gave an emphatic yes.
That guest was Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who further said that “if only the world had listened” to Winston Churchill’s warnings about Nazi Germany in 1938, millions of lives might have been saved, Fleischer said.
Fleischer said he felt amazed to “hear words of war from a man of peace.” But he also said that if the world had listened to Churchill then, “no one would have known” how many lives would have been saved.
Moreover, “today’s critics” of the Iraq war would probably have called Churchill a “militarist,” said the removal of the Nazis “was not worth the price” in lives, and would have asked “who’s going to clean up the mess in Berlin?” Fleischer said.
Fleischer contended that Al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorist groups “plan every day” to attack the United States again. He also emphasized that Bush is “the best friend Israel has had in the Oval Office,” one who continually defends Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorists.
“Strength is the only thing terrorists understand,” said Fleischer. “In this age of terror, I do all that I can so today’s Democrats won’t be tomorrow’s leaders.”
In response to a question, Fleischer said he had no sense that the Bush administration soon will be taking any military action against Iran to halt its nuclear energy program that some fear could result in construction of nuclear weapons.
He pointed out that he was present when the administration did “ratchet up” rhetoric in preparation for war, and “I see no evidence” that administration officials are “starting that against Iran.”
Nevertheless, “I don’t know what Bush will do before he leaves office,” Fleischer said.
In addition, Matthew Brooks, executive director of the RJC, spoke briefly prior to Fleischer. Brooks said that the Wisconsin RJC is the “43rd or 44th” chapter to have been created, and that the organization now has more than 30,000 members nationally.
Audience members included State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-District 8, which includes Milwaukee’s North Shore suburbs) and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.