But it is not so for George Bush. For him the terrorism menace is corporeal, ominous and imminent. If he is right -- and almost every technical terrorism expert believes he is -- I believe his obsessive, sustained focus on the danger is a sign of greatness. When Napoleon was asked what distinguished a great leader from a regular politician, he explained that it was not innate intelligence, but rather the mental power "de fixer les objets longtemps sans etre fatigue" (to concentrate on objectives for long periods without tiring). While most other politicians (certainly including most of the Democratic Party presidential aspirants) have long since tired of the mental and emotional strain of staring into the terrorism abyss), the president continues to focus and to act.
And he understands that the early rounds may be the hardest, because the terrorists and others still doubt America's staying power. They remember Vietnam, where we lost the will to fight. They remember Beirut in 1983, where we turned tail and ran after they killed our Marines in their barracks. They remember the first WTC bombing in 1993, when we turned to our lawyers instead of our soldiers. They remember Mogadishu in 1996, where we left our dead and skedaddled out of country. They remember the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, where we ordered our ships to sea rather than our Marines to shore. So now, in 2003, in Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers and Marines are paying the price in their blood for the boundless tolerance and rationalized inaction of their superiors when faced with danger and assault over the last 30 years.
There is another term for tolerant inaction in the face of danger: appeasement. Whether they know it or not, the Deans, Clarkes, Kerrys and all the other politicians and pundits who will find any excuse for inaction or retreat, are, functionally, appeasers. That is a rational policy -- if the enemy is appeasable. If Hitler had been content with taking Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain would be seen as a great man by history. And Churchill would have been seen as the mere warmonger he was then called. If, today, the Islamist terrorists are appeasable, then Bush is a fool. If they are not, then we should apply to America, Churchill's warning to England over 70 years ago: "England's hour of weakness is Europe's hour of danger." And we should be heartened by George Bush's confident strides in the inevitably bloody march to peace.
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.