- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

In assessing the vicious act of war perpetrated yesterday against the United States, it is worth recalling the immediate reaction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the wake of the unprovoked, premeditated attack on Pearl Harbor. In an address to Congress seeking a declaration of war, Mr. Roosevelt, noting that the "the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked," asserted that the date of aggression, Dec. 7, 1941, "will live in infamy." So, too, Sept. 11, 2001.
In his "day of infamy" speech, Roosevelt boldly declared, "Always we will remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory." While the source of yesterday's attack may not be known for some time, President Bush, too, struck the right note in his early comments. "Make no mistake," Mr. Bush asserted, "the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." Acknowledging that "[t]he resolve of our great nation is being tested," Mr. Bush boldly promised, "We will show the world that we will pass this test."
At a time like this, the need for steadfast leadership becomes paramount. In this context, with the United States clearly in a de facto, if not de jure, state of war, Americans should appreciate the stellar national security team that Mr. Bush has assembled with former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as vice president, former Gen. Colin Powell as secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense once more. A former national security adviser to President Reagan, Mr. Powell, who has 35 years of military experience, served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, when Mr. Cheney headed the Pentagon. A former ambassador to NATO, Mr. Rumsfeld later served as secretary of defense during the Ford administration. Mr. Bush — and the nation — will be well-served.
Leadership during a time of war must also come from the Congress. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt would serve the nation well by emulating Republican House Speaker Joseph W. Martin Jr., who, on the very day Pearl Harbor was attacked, issued a statement offering assurance to Roosevelt and the nation. "In the hour of danger," the speaker asserted, "there is no partisanship."
Similarly, Messrs. Daschle and Gephardt would do well to recall the post-war bipartisanship declared by Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. At the onset of the Cold War, when President Truman was pursuing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe and the Truman Doctrine to defend Greece and Turkey, Vandenberg famously declared, "Politics stops at the water's edge." Indeed, a few years later Truman himself echoed Vandenberg's statesmanship, declaring, "Partisan politics stop at the boundaries of the United States."
Now, as much as ever, is the time for bipartisan leadership.


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