Almost 100 percent of the mental energy in Congress, and at least 50 percent of the White House mental energy is currently being expended trying either to destroy or protect John Bolton and Tom DeLay. A man from Mars would presume that things in America must be shipshape, and the world had settled into a long and restful peacefulness. Otherwise, surely, the American public would be looking with reproach and indignation at their leaders using their often misguided, but considerable, mental energies to brawl over Washington jobs -- if there were other matters with a higher claim on their attention.
But the Martian would be wrong, as they so often are when human writers draft them into the role of ignoramus ex machina. The American public is remarkably undemanding of their politicians. Let me amend that ? the public certainly expects to be condescended to and given little gifts on a regular basis. It expects -- often demands -- that its misconceptions about the realities of the world be dutifully parroted back to it by its elected representatives. But, as long as life is going forward more or less normally, not only does the public not demand the truth, as one of Jack Nicholson's character once observed: "It can't handle the truth."
The redeeming aspect of the American public is that it has built and run this country magnificently, despite the usual contribution of government. And that when the public's free-range politicians make a sufficient hash of things -- as episodically becomes manifest on days like Dec. 7 and Sept. 11 -- the American public tends to roll up its collective sleeves and fix the mess. Then they return to their indulgent ways with their hopelessly underachieving politicians.
But I have to say that the public has let me down, some. It is less than four years since the Sept. 11 wake up call -- the day that the murderous malice of our enemy was so tragically compounded by years of Washington inattention and incompetence -- but after that rude awakening, it seems both Washington and the public have hit the snooze button.
After Dec. 7, the public expected action -- and plenty of it. From that day on until almost the day he died, FDR rarely let a day go by without vigorously acting on and talking about the threat and how to defeat it. But after a flurry of energy and bold and courageous actions from the Bush Administration in the first couple of years, one has the sense that things have returned to business as usual.
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.