President Bush continues to amaze, baffle and infuriate most of the Washington political class. Yesterday, he pronounced that "under my leadership America is more secure and peaceful ... the world is safer for having removed Saddam Hussein," even while the ambulances were still removing the dead and dying from suicide bombsites in Baghdad. The president's claim of more security and peace only makes sense if one understands to what he is comparing the current condition. Presumably, if we hadn't invaded Iraq (and Afghanistan), things would be more peaceful right now. American soldiers wouldn't be dying on foreign soil, and there would be no explosions on the streets of Baghdad. If we had let the U.N. quietly, politely and ineffectively continue to complain to Mr. Hussein and the Taliban for their various misdeeds, the French, Germans and many Muslim governments would not now be saying rude things about America. We might even be admired around the world for our forbearance, restraint and maturity after that tragedy in New York and at the Pentagon.
The president's statement makes sense only if one believes that the terrorist danger will not go away, but rather will grow ever worse until it reaches a genocidal level of applied WMD weaponry against Americans here at home. In that case, every day we delay our effort to suppress and extinguish terrorism at its heart in the Middle East, America and the world grows less secure and less full of peace. It is in that sense that the president was correct yesterday. Having started the process of rolling back terrorism (however falteringly or imperfectly), we are more secure than if we had not yet started. On Sept. 12, and for some months thereafter, most Washington politicians and journalists shared with the president that sense of the danger and urgency. But with the passage of months, and now years, for many the very idea of a war on terrorism has become prosaic. It has become a mere cliche, an abstraction, a political phrase to be tossed off without thinking.
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.