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Bush Determined To Change Mideast: Card

"It's really [about] changing the nature of that part of the world," Card said.

Washington (UPI) Oct 13, 2005
The Bush administration is committed to "changing the nature" of the Middle East, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said this week.

Card told an audience at the Hudson Institute, a conservative, pro-administration Washington think tank Wednesday that the United States needed to remain committed to long-term, ambitious policies to stabilize and transform the nature of the Middle East and South Asia.

"I encourage you to understand that we have a broader responsibility in thinking about the war in terror as just denying an attack today or winning a battle in Afghanistan or a challenge in Iraq. It's really [about] changing the nature of that part of the world," Card said.

The war on terror was for many years one of President George W. Bush's strongest issues, but has recently been an area of some worry for the president. Polls show that U.S. involvement in Iraq has become increasingly unpopular among the American public, which has added to the president's weakened approval ratings.

However, Card told his audience that the president remained confident in and strongly committed to his policies against terrorism, but that the improvements that would come from them would take time to materialize and might not even be seen until after Bush left the White House at the end of his second term more than three years from now.

"The results of defeating terror probably will not be realized during this president's tenure," Card said.

And he said that a total victory in it was unlikely to come during Bush's time as president. "This is a war that will have to be won every single day, but the ultimate victory will be many years away," he said.

The chief of staff made a similar disclaimer with regard to the impact of No Child Left Behind, the president's controversial education plan. "The fruits of his labor to reform our education system won't be fully there until the next generation, but the president has laid the foundation," he said.

On Medicare, Card defended the president's much-criticized and costly initiative for bringing personal responsibility into the healthcare system and in preventing "tremendous drains" on services.

"He had a vision for changing our Medicare system, for bringing more people into the reality that our government should be a partner in preventing people from getting sick ... and that was part of our motivation for changing the Medicare system, and we are in the midst of a revolution in Medicare that will, for many, many generations have real results that will be good for America and good for American citizens," Card said.

Card's defense of the administration's Medicare reform comes at a time when some Republican senators are proposing to delay or even cancel Bush's Medicare drug entitlement, set to take effect Jan. 1. Led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) they propose to instead use those funds, estimated at $37 billion for next year, for hurricane relief in the Gulf. However, the administration has not shown support for the idea.

There has been a generally lukewarm response of seniors, the intended beneficiaries, to the drug plan.

Social Security reform was also listed as one of the president's challenges, and Card assured the crowd that President Bush will push to make the Social Security debate take place. He described resolving its problems as "just about as important as winning the war on terror."

Card devoted a large portion of his speech to defending the qualifications of Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Card praised Miers for her accomplishments as a lawyer in Texas, including becoming the president of her law firm and the first woman to head the state's Bar Association.

"She is an ethical person who respects the law, and I have watched as she counseled the president as he had to address some of the most significant challenges in the history of our country, challenges, by the way, that require a constitutional understanding," he said.

Card said adherence to the letter of the Constitution was an important quality for Justices on the Supreme Court. "That Constitution is America, and it is very important for people taking that oath to understand that, and Harriet Miers understands it," he said.

"Harriet is an outstanding person ... I look forward to her hearings and I look forward to her confirmation and I look for to her taking that oath. It means so much to all of us," Card said.

The Hudson Institute held the event to celebrate the move of its headquarters from Indianapolis to Washington.

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Iraqi Security Forces Improving
Washington (UPI) Oct 13, 2005
The Pentagon's latest assessment of Iraq's nascent security forces says there are over 200,000 Iraqis trained and equipped to fight, according to U.S. officials and documents.

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