Two thousand and one was a year of tumultuous change, marked by war and recession, heartbreak and fear -- but also resiliency and recovery. Taking it all into account, however, the outlook for America has never been more optimistic. Here are 10 reasons (and one Person of the Year nominee) why.
1) The War Against Terror. The bombings of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and the onset of the U.S.-led global war against terrorism, have changed the nation forever. But I believe it is a change for the better. Osama bin Laden badly miscalculated -- his actions awakened the spirit of a sleeping giant whose mighty boiler of production and valor in action have already crushed the terrorists in Afghanistan and will continue to successfully destroy terrorism wherever it exists. At home, patriotism and faith have reawakened as never before. No matter how long it takes, freedom and democracy will prevail.
2) The New Bush Doctrine. In his national address following Sept. 11, President Bush clearly outlined the game plan for the freedom-loving world: "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." (And that includes states that harbor terrorists.)
3) Our Mighty Military, Unveiled. The emergence of the overwhelmingly dominant U.S. military, with its incredible high-tech precision bombing guided by the intelligence-gathering operation of crack commando forces on the ground, proved critical armchair strategists, dubious Russian generals and other hand-wringers completely wrong. In a few months, U.S. forces were able to achieve what the old Soviet Union couldn't do in 10 years.
4) The Bear Hug. The emerging alliance between the United States and Russia will lead to a mutual reduction in nuclear arsenals and has already broken the OPEC oil cartel that had disrupted the world economy for three decades.
5) The Herculean Effort. The leadership of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani shows once again what a positive difference one good man can make.
6) The New Bull Run. The post-9-11 stock-market upturn signals the beginning of the new bull market and heralds economic recovery in 2002.
7) Two Trade-Ups. Successful congressional votes on China free trade and presidential trade-promotion authority -- defeating the best efforts of protectionists -- are the year's major pro-growth measures from Washington.
8) The Tech Advance. New technological breakthroughs such as Intel's shrinkage of transistors and IBM's quantum computing to generate additional information-processing power will further transform the U.S. economy and produce even greater productivity and prosperity.
9) The Cut. The passage of Bush's broad-based tax cut last spring -- the first reduction in personal tax rates since 1986 -- will gradually improve economic growth incentives and limit domestic government spending over the coming decade.
10) The Free-Market Reminder. Enron's poorly executed (and possibly fraudulent) new business plan to shift from a traditional power provider to a commodities-trading energy company resulted in bankruptcy with tragic costs to workers and investors. But it demonstrates that in a free-market capitalist system, if you go under -- you go under.
As for the 2001 Person of the Year, I nominate President George W. Bush: for his clarity of vision; his resolute purposefulness to defend American democracy and freedom; his eloquence; his military leadership; his strength of moral character; and his faith in God.
We are blessed to have him as our president.