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Three Minutes to Midnight

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.

The national media was clearly tired of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright rants broadcast over and over again on talk radio and shown on FOX News four years ago. The press was only too happy when candidate Barack Obama disavowed the man he said he could never disavow. Well, that’s over.


Clearly, they were tired of “ America ’s chickens coming home to roost” and the unreverend clergyman’s appeals for God to d___n America . Voters, too, seemed to have heard enough of it. Fifty-three percent of the American electorate appears to have endorsed the view of 95% of the media: the Reverend Wright is old news. Let’s move on.

Now, however, is when Barack Obama’s twenty-year membership in Rev. Wright’s church comes into the sharpest focus. Now is when the peace of the world can depend largely on the judgment that President Obama brings to the nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran . Now, is when we need to have the greatest confidence in the discernment of our Commander-in-Chief. Millions of lives may depend on what this young leader sees and how he analyzes what he is told.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exemplified the differences between Jerusalem ’s view of Iran ’s lunge for nuclear weapons and Washington ’s view of that mounting threat: Gen. Dempsey spoke of clocks in his comments to the press.

"We compare intelligence, we discuss regional implications. And we've admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates," he said.

That’s an interesting metaphor. For decades, the left-wing Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has illustrated its cover (now its website) with an ominous ticking clock. For much of the Cold War period, they showed the minute hand just three minutes to midnight . During times of tension—or whenever a conservative or Republican was in the White House, the Bulletin would edge nearer to H-hour. Now, the Bulletin says it’s five minutes to midnight .


Actually, it’s closer to three minutes to midnight. That is because Iran’s mullahs don’t care about sanctions. “Crippling” or “biting” as they may be, Iran can get around Western economic sanctions. Last weekend, the Obama administration quietly sought to bring pressure to bear on the Iraqi government that we fought to install in Baghdad . They tried to prevent Iraqi Shiites from helping Iranian Shiites skirt the restrictions on oil imports and exports. Prospects for Iraqi cooperation with the administration do not look promising.

But even if Iraq did cooperate and Russia didn’t aid Iran via Syria , sanctions don’t matter. The Iranian mullahs do not care if their own people are miserable. These are, after all, the same men who gave thousands of ten-year boys plastic keys to paradise and marched them through minefields in the ten-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

So, now, it seems Jeremiah Wright really was a prophet without honor. Now, the chickens really are coming home to roost. We have in inexperienced president on whose ability to interpret often contradictory intelligence data we have staked everything.

President Obama assured us that he never heard Rev. Wright’s anti-American rants. He wasn’t in the pew that weekend. Or any of those many weekends. He never thought to pick up a video of Rev. Wright’s sermons. He never asked anyone in that most agitated of congregations about those rants. He never picked up on any subtle or not-so-subtle signals. Or disturbing reports.


And it is to this most uncurious man, President Barack Obama, in this time and place, that we have entrusted so very much.

No wonder the Israelis’ clocks turn at different rates. The Israelis look to eternity. They look to the survival of the Jews, the oldest people on earth.

This American administration looks to November 6th and the next election. That is why the atomic clock is ticking. Three minutes to midnight . Tick. Tick. Tick.

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