Often the most dangerous time of war is not at the moment of certain battle, but during the long periods of uncertainty in between major fighting. We are at such a moment currently. The Taliban have been overturned (their leaders killed, arrested or scattered), but Afghanistan remains ungoverned and dangerous. Saddam's regime is well and truly conquered, but the Iraqi people remain restive. Iran simmers over a nuclear flame, while its people chafe and struggle against the mullahs' manacles. North Korea's nuclear pot is also on simmer. The afterglow of heroic victory in Iraq fades as the dreary, but deadly, Iraqi municipal management quietly filters through the news. Overarching these events, the war on al Qaeda continues, the events of which are known to the public largely by episodic governmental releases of secret information. Provision for homeland defense has become the almost exclusive possession of bureaucrats, experts and the occasional interested congressman, senator or journalist. Of course, Middle East peace remains elusive. For many people it may all seem rather gray and inconclusive at the moment.
The president has proven magnificent at leading us through the vivid moments. It remains to be seen how he handles war morale during the waiting periods. But his performance now, no less than during the glory moments, will either measurably add to or subtract from the quality of his war leadership. Because many wars are lost for lack of leadership, we should all hope for his continued success. Which is not to say that the president, or his government, should be immune from criticism. To the contrary, as Winston Churchill explained at the beginning of WWII: "we take (criticism) earnestly to heart and seek to profit by it. Criticism in the body politic is like pain in the human body. It is not pleasant. But where would the body be without it? No health or sensibility would be possible without continued correctives and warnings of pain." It is the leader's job to discern the useful criticisms from the many others that inevitably are raised -- to take advantage of good counsel and ignore bad counsel.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.