"Freedom" may mean one thing to us, but it means something quite different in other parts of the world. In Russia, which has a long history of autocratic leaders who have traded freedom for a minimal standard of living, American-style freedom is not universally embraced. In many Muslim lands, freedom means Sharia law. Applying American principles to that world has caused frustration, even failure.
If the president fails to articulate who we are to fellow Americans and the world -- and there is little evidence he knows how, or even wants to -- the United States will lose its leadership role. The hostile forces willing to take its place -- China, Russia and radical Islam -- will bring with them consequences we will not like and threats to our national security we may not be able to repel.
Perhaps Jack Bauer can again inspire as he did when "24" premiered in November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks on America. Sometimes fiction is stranger than truth.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.