Prince Otto von Bismarck is credited with the sneering remark that "there is a special providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America." Of course, that was in the age of presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, so Bismarck, the greatest statesman of his age, was entitled to look down on the quality of American leadership. One wonders what old "Blood and Iron" would say today if he were looking at the magnificent triumvirate of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. (At least Curly, Moe and Larry were funny when they stuck their fingers into each other's eyes.)
Every several weeks, I write a column suggesting what this presidential election might look like if we had serious candidates and a press corps that treated the presidency as an important office in which vital decisions would be made by its incumbent. I invariably get flooded with e-mails telling me, basically, "Blankley, don't hold your breath."
Nonetheless, I shall persist -- but continue to breathe. Some serious questions should be posed to the candidates at a moment when the world shudders on its economic axis, with inflation showing its ugly head; oil at more than $115 a barrel; grain prices at historic highs; grain shortages leading to riots in Third World cities; the worst (still unresolved) financial crisis since the Great Depression; a dollar crisis; the prospect of an American recession that might pull the world's economies into its vortex; and a dangerous political trend away from healthy international trading practices.
Here are five questions for the three candidates. In several of these questions, the important -- if informal -- relationship between the president and the Federal Reserve Board chairman will be critical. They often have informal lunches during which coordinated monetary and fiscal policies are worked out. Some presidents don't avail themselves of that opportunity. First, will you actively seek to coordinate with the Fed chair?
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.