The pundits who criticize Bush's initial performance are living in a lost world, where the president's primary job was to feel our pain. No more. After Tuesday, the president has a more important job: to transform the unfocused rage of America into a sustained and disciplined assault on and victory over the forces responsible for this and other acts of terrorism against the U.S. that past administrations let go unchallenged: the bombing of our embassies, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. I don't want another round of emotive bombing. I want to win.
A war president. That is the president I have seen in Bush, who understood on Tuesday, Sept. 11, that his most important job was not public appearances, flying to D.C. to boost morale, but preserving the American military chain of command in the middle of an attack whose magnitude was at that point unknown.
In this morning's New York Post, there is a list of 392 uniformed city workers missing or dead in the WTC blast. I pause a moment after each name: Peter Brennan, Rescue 5 Staten Island, John Florio, Engine 214 The Bronx, Angel Juarbe Jr., Ladder 12 Manhattan ... Then I notice something else, nobody notices because it is too obvious: These fallen heroes, the ones we count on to run toward danger instead of away, are almost entirely men -- just as the civilians who turned soldier on Flight 93 were all men. Just as in the hunt for bin Laden to come, it will be disproportionately young men who fight and die for us in the caves of Afghanistan.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.