This is not the happiest Thanksgiving holiday. So many out of work, so many others afraid they're next, and the recession is not receding as swiftly as we were told it would.
Yet all these worries pale against the collective remembrance of the fearful hardships endured by the first immigrants to these shores. They spread the first feast of gratitude in the New World. They laid the foundation for the generations who followed to enjoy life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness (and turkey).
We give thanks for their gifts to us -- the right to worship freely and speak our minds as we choose, and for the way of life we cherish. But this season something seems to have gone awry. We're looking through the wrong end of the telescope. We've bailed out Wall Street, Detroit and other giants and masters of the economic universe, but the 10 percent who can't find work don't know how they'll pay the rent, the grocer or the doctor.
The Democrats in Congress are determined to stifle competition in the health care delivery system, increasing the deficit and burdening the next generation (and the generations after that) with crushing debt. Confiscatory taxes to pay for it are inevitable. We lament the stimulus that neither saved nor created jobs, unless you count the phantom jobs created in nonexistent congressional districts.
The American Spectator magazine honored the memory of Robert Bartley, the longtime editor of The Wall Street Journal, the other night in Washington, and the buzz among the A-list conservatives was not about personalities, but about how to retrieve conservative economic values. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, a Republican to watch in 2012, tickled the crowd with a new kicker for Ronald Reagan's famous description of hard times: "A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. A recovery is when Nancy Pelosi loses hers."
He told how, after he voted against the big bailout, he spoke at a Boy Scouts jamboree. A man listening at the edge of the crowd came up when the crowd thinned to tell him that he had just lost his job. But he wasn't there to complain, but to thank the congressman for voting against the bailout, "for doing what's right. I'm not afraid for myself, I'm afraid for my country."
The America he knew and loved, he said, was turning away from the independent spirit of the Founding Fathers. Said the congressman: "I knew exactly what he meant. Economic freedom means the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail. Capitalism without bankruptcy is like a religion without hell."
Pence is one of the conservatives in Congress working to hold the line against the radical Obama economic agenda, reminding one and all that the most vital economies are not those that are overtaxed and overregulated, but those free to encourage the spirit of independence, of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The community organizer from Chicago is by instinct and training not a business-friendly president. He neither gets the severity of the consequences of the deficit nor the near-certain prospect that his economic schemes, beginning with Obamacare, will cripple, perhaps permanently, the American giant.
A Thanksgiving ago most of us sat around the holiday table congratulating ourselves for what the election of Barack Obama said about us. Many of us who didn't vote for him, and who thought George W. Bush was unfairly blamed for everything that went wrong, nevertheless thought Obama could invite renewed respect for the office. The year that followed has been a year of cascading images of the president apologizing for America, of watching him bow to kings and emperors like a vassal, and dithering over what to do about what he once called "the necessary war."
No subject at the Thanksgiving table this year will provoke greater anger and alarm than Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to hold trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the "mastermind" of Sept. 11, along with four other planners, in a federal court in New York City.
The president is determined to treat them as civilians rather than as the enemy combatants they are, deserving only a trial before a tribunal of the military that captured them on a battlefield.
Families of the victims of the Twin Towers terrorism, entitled to more outrage than any of the rest of us, have sent a letter with more than 100,000 signatures (Bravest.com) to the president to protest, calling his decision morally offensive, legally unjustifiable and insulting to the memory of the 3,000 Americans who died on Sept. 11. Their letter speaks with both clarity and sadness. The president and his lawyer have cast a terrible pall over the Thanksgiving table.