WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A few days after the failed attempt of a Pakistani-born naturalized American citizen to blow Times Square sky high, I bravely made my way through the returning throng of tourists and street vendors to take a look. By my calculation, had the jackal, Faisal Shahzad, 30, succeeded with his evil project in the early evening of Saturday, May 1 to explode the SUV he left on a Times Square street, he might have killed several hundred utterly innocent civilians, possibly a thousand. Fortunately, he failed.
Despite instructions from highly experienced terrorists back home, he packed his Nissan Pathfinder with the wrong kind of fertilizer -- a variety unsuited for bombs. The firecrackers he rigged up as detonators were insufficiently powerful to set his incendiaries off.
Finally, according to my favorite intelligence analyst, Rush Limbaugh, Shahzad's alarm clocks, which were supposed to serve as timers, were set wrong. He failed to distinguish a.m. from p.m. Oh, yes, and he ran from the SUV leaving on its key ring the keys to his getaway car and to his apartment.
The evil Shahzad's incompetence, we are told, should not give us confidence that the next attempt by another terrorist or terrorist group will fizzle as his did. The failed attempt in 1993 to blow up the World Trade Center was followed brief years later by Sept. 11. In fact, the terrorist threats against us here at home continue and may be speeding up.
Since Sept. 11, there have been 20 Islamists terrorist plots directed against us at home, former Attorney General Michael R. Mukasey writes in The Wall Street Journal, including Maj. Nidal Hasan's massacre of American soldiers at Fort Hood. He urges that any terrorist such as Shahzad be designated as "an unlawful enemy combatant" and that information obtained from them in interrogation remain confidential to be exploited against our enemies. Doubtless he is right and prudent in his recommendations.
Yet without diminishing the extent of the threat from Islamist terrorists, let me return to my expedition into Times Square. Naturally, brave as I am, I did not face those crowds alone. I was accompanied by Greg Gutfeld, whom the nation's insomniacs and a growing cult of niche viewers know is the host of Fox News' nightly "Red Eye," which airs in the East at 3:00 a.m. Aficionados burdened by normative daytime schedules TiVo it.
He is also known -- though to a smaller audience -- as the man who while working for me robbed me of a hoard of pre-Castro cigars the night he was supposed to be assisting the Secret Service while President Ronald Reagan dined at my home and I introduced the Old Cowboy to King Frederick the Great's flute concerto in G major. Yes, I know, our current president is supposed to be very intellectual, but it is Ronald Reagan who was the first president to listen to the music of the Prussian dilettante.
At any rate, I have forgiven Gutfeld, and so after reconnoitering the area, I even allowed him to buy me a drink at a local saloon, where he filled me in on his view of the Islamists who confront us. He came quickly to the point. Said he: "They're losers."
He cited the large numbers of them who come to America, immerse themselves in our popular culture, go broke and still cannot find a nice American girl to marry. Later, he elaborated on his findings in his blog: "The fact is, these guys -- despite their education -- are seduced by a belief system devised to offer something they can't find anywhere else. Recognition. The shortest line to fame is infamy. Think about how it works in America. If you're a young man out to impress a girl, you join a band. Another becomes a comic. Another might obsess over his quads in a gym. But few alternatives exist for jihad-embracing losers when your culture demonizes women."
"Men are left angry," writes Gutfeld, who then launched into a diatribe that sounds very much as though he could begin a second career as a sex therapist, especially a sex therapist for Islamist terrorists dissatisfied with Big Bang theories propounded by a fat and grinning mullah.
There is a huge ambivalence about the Islamist terrorists, even a hypocrisy. The ambivalence and hypocrisy have been inherent in the angry Islamists for a long time. After a journey through Islam back in the 1970s, V.S. Naipaul offered his perception of it: "All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilization, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to."
Of course, that was before the Islamists began planting bombs on our shores and dreaming of bigger and bigger bombs.