Monday, October 16, 2006

North Korea changed the subject for the Republicans

In one deadly moment, North Korea has succeeded in doing what no amount of backtracking by Speaker Dennis Hastert or his beleaguered Republicans could do: It has changed the subject of the national debate. With nuclear weapons in the hands of the most deranged regime in the world, e-mails to pages will have to fade from the forefront of the public’s attention.

Will Bush be able to deal with the North Korean crisis? This is truly the moment for a test of his leadership. If he is able to lead a strong global effort to face down the renegade nation and can set in motion a demonstrable process that could lead to a reversal of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, he will have pulled off a coup akin to JFK’s in the Cuban missile crisis and rescued his party from midterm election defeat in 2006 as surely as Kennedy saved it in 1962.

The key, of course, is China. … China has one major fear: a regional nuclear competition with Japan. With Japanese technological prowess and the mangled history between the two nations, Beijing cannot react impassively to the nuclear arming of Tokyo.

But Bush has to produce and has to do it in the next five weeks. Just like JFK did in 1962.

[From a commentary by Dick Morris, who was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years]

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