And so far, the three geniuses of America have been our love for liberty, our optimistic insistence on succeeding -- and thus our capacity for timely, principled compromise. The one great failure to compromise in American history was, of course, in the 1850s when we failed to solve the question of what to do about slavery expanding into the new territories. Six-hundred thousand Americans died as a result in the War Between the States -- although I concede that perhaps that was not capable of honorable compromise. But for our congressmen and the public, our reasons not to be open to compromise better always be of such stark moral dimensions as human slavery or liberty. On most matters, honorable, principled compromise is possible.
Right at the moment in Washington, listening to too many of our Washington politicians, they sound like -- in Cyril Connolly's words -- "jackals snarling over a dried well."
Starting immediately, it is beyond the doubt of rational minds of the right, center or left (yes, I concede to my fellow conservatives that I am stretching a point combining the words "rational" and "the left") that our national destiny requires us to re-establish fiscal balance, or let our great history and remaining great destiny rot and fail.
As Alan Greenspan observed recently, we will surely reduce our debt and deficit -- "the only question is: Is it before or after a bond market crisis?" And, as we have seen in Greece, Ireland and other parts of the world, a bond crisis doesn't come slowly. It strikes within hours when the collective judgment of cold and calculating investor minds around the world reach a harsh judgment.
How ludicrous our petty haggling will look to us the morning after. And what a painful and long-lasting economic agony we and the world economy will have if that dreadful day comes.
But as Thomas Paine said (and Reagan often repeated), "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." And we do. Congress and the president could start now -- before Christmas -- to begin to signal to the world that Washington is committed to laying the legislative foundations in the next six months for fixing our fiscal crisis. It's not even a world we have to begin again -- just a vaunted American skill we have to reapply.
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.