Jonah Goldberg

Recall, for example, that John Edwards, the presidential candidate who now calls the war on terror a "bumper sticker" and spits out the word "neocon" in a way only a trial lawyer can, voted for the Patriot Act. As did the Democratic nominee in 2004, John Kerry. As did Hillary Clinton. As did Ted Kennedy and every other Democrat except for Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). (Mary Landrieu was not present for the vote).

Now, I have no problem with the Patriot Act. I don't condone torture, though the waterboarding immediately after 9/11 (at least as described by the Post) doesn't really trouble me either. But we're not talking about me and my right-wing pals. We're talking about good, decent liberals. And if you're the sort of person who thinks George W. Bush and his evil henchmen have stolen our civil liberties and our souls, you need to at least consider the likelihood that in the wake of another 9/11 a President Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama wouldn't do things very differently. Or, if that's too gloomy for you, comfort yourself in the fact they'd be powerless to do things very differently. In the wake of another 9/11, the voters and Congress would roll right over them.

The point is that terrorism has consequences beyond life and property. It requires a tightening of liberty no one desires. The prevention of terrorism prevents the need, real or perceived, for further tightening. The Pelosi cop-out is that if you're scared and angry, you get a free pass to do things you find morally objectionable. Well, terrorism makes people scared and angry; that's sort of why they call it "terrorism."

The left loves to snicker at Bush's assertion that the war on terror is a war for the freedom of Iraqis and Muslims abroad. However dubious that proposition may be to left, it seems that by their own standards we need to win the war on terror if we are going to better secure freedom at home.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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