As we approach Christmas I am reminded of Mexican President General Porfirio Diaz's lamentation after the Mexican American War: "Pobre Mexico! Tan lejos de Dios, y tan cerca los Estados Unidos (Poor Mexico! So far from God, and so close to the United States.")
While I am glad President Polk fought and won that war for America's manifest destiny, I can sympathize with President Diaz's regret that the harsh realities of man's politics overwhelm his quest for spiritual peace and truth.
Now, just days before we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, I am struck that His promise that the meek shall inherit the Earth is seemingly no closer to realization today than it was 2,000 years ago when the mailed fist and iron sword of the Roman legionnaires harshly enforced Roman rule of the western world.
Today, whether it is the murderous plans and actions of the Islamist terrorists, or merely the unrelenting verbal assaults of Washington politics, there is scant time to pause and bring central to our minds His teachings, by which we aspire to live our lives.
Pity our president, who after a summer and fall of unremitting war, disaster and political strife, surely was looking forward to the strength-renewing solace of a brief Christmas break. By long Washington tradition, these are the weeks when the politicians and media lay down our (figurative) swords, brass knuckles, slings and arrows, sniper rifles and bazookas, and toast each other across the partisan and professional divide over convivial spirits at Christmas parties from one end of K St to the other. In the Middle Ages such a moment was known as the Truce of God.
Only last Thursday, the president and his gracious First Lady opened the White House to the brutes of the press -- offering up groaning tables of delectables and seasonal libations, and a ready smile and photograph with each and every member of that brazen horde (and the line was long with the many takers of that photo opportunity).
But just a week before Christmas, The New York Times, Democratic (and a few Republican) senators and the rest of the ever-willing-to-be-brutal media launched their Christmas bombing of the Bush White House. At least when Richard Nixon ordered the Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong between Dec. 18 and 30, 1972 by 700 B-52's, he was attacking the enemy.
But in case the Democrats, the media and its flagship, The New York Times, haven't noticed, the president of the United States is not the enemy of the people of the United States. And, whatever the policy differences between Americans may be, both the timing and the ferocity of their Christmas attack on the president is an appalling breach of decency.
The New York Times, which fiercely criticized President Nixon for bombing our enemy, North Vietnam, starting on Dec. 18 (so close to Christmas), claims it had the NSA story for a year and chose to release it on Dec. 16.
The media immediately has drawn from their shopworn cupboard their predictable heroes and villains for the story. I was on "Hardball" on MSNBC this week when the guest hostess called the NSA officials who feloniously released the highly classified information "whistleblowers." By that logic, Benedict Arnold was America's first whistleblower.
I suppose from the perspective of King George III, revealing George Washington's war plans was whistleblowing. Arnold is more commonly remembered by most Americans as our first traitor -- though clearly not our last.
I have appeared on several radio and television shows with prominent journalists who manifest a perfect ignorance of even the most basic principles of constitutional law -- even as they pronounce with self consciously weighty judgment the unconstitutionality of the president's actions.
However, the most basic constitutional principle is that in wartime, the constitutionality of government intrusion into peacetime civil liberties must be proportional to the magnitude, likelihood and exigency of the threat or danger to be prevented.
Until one has measured the threat, one cannot rationally judge the constitutionality of the intrusion into civil liberties of the executive action. The president's critics simply ignore -- or are oblivious to -- the threat.
They rarely, if ever, even mention the palpable threat of Islamist terrorist (very possibly WMD) attack on our home soil in their analysis. They ought to re-run regularly (if only in the privacy of their living rooms) the video of our fellow Americans leaping out of the 90th story windows of the Twin Towers.
The Supreme Court may eventually judge this matter. And, keeping in mind that as Justice Robert Jackson once observed, the Constitution is not a suicide pact, I would expect the president's actions to be upheld.
But, however it is finally decided, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the president has been motivated in his actions by an earnest commitment and a passionate sense of high duty to protect us from the genocidal intentions of our Islamist terrorist enemies.
For this burden that he carries for us all as he performs his sacred and possibly sacrificial duties, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and iconic Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis raised the prospect, as Christmas approaches, of the impeachment of our president.
How far we poor creatures find ourselves from His spirit this Christmas 2005, anno Domini.