- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Needed reassurance
"They are only words, I know, coming from the mouths of public officials at a time when words are cheap," Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Larry Eichel wrote yesterday.
"But there was something about what was said and done in official Washington [Wednesday] that was as satisfying as anyone had any right to expect," Mr. Eichel said.
"At a moment like this, the basic rituals of government loom large. If executed with dignity and resolve, they can provide needed reassurance.
"[Wednesday], with the fires still smoldering and the dead still uncounted, the rites were performed on Capitol Hill and at the White House. And the elected stewards of our national faith played out their roles with dignity and conviction."

Symbol of unity
"All of a sudden, I don't care who is running for Congress from Iowa's 2nd district, what Florida's new House lines will look like or whether the latest poll shows [Republican] Bret Schundler gaining on [Democrat] Jim McGreevey in the New Jersey gubernatorial race," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg wrote yesterday in Roll Call.
"I don't care how many members of the House have signed a discharge petition for the campaign finance reform bill or even when all of the appropriations bills will be passed by Congress and signed by the president. These things are important, but right now I'm not interested in spending even a moment of my time thinking about them," Mr. Rothenberg said.
"I can only think about the loss of life following the terrorist attacks on Tuesday morning. About the people in the World Trade Center towers. About those injured in the Pentagon. About the sense of helplessness and terror felt by those who, in one way or another, experienced the full force of the terrorist attacks, as well as those of us who didn't lose a friend or family member but merely watched the tragedy unfolding on television."
Mr. Rothenberg added: "When a tragedy like this hits, the president's Republican credentials become irrelevant, and he becomes a symbol of national unity. George W. Bush, party leader, becomes George W. Bush, head of state and commander in chief.
Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives may disagree about tax policy, the budget and environmental issues, but they will have no trouble rallying behind the White House and demanding some sort of retribution."

Beneath the surface
"There's a lot of talk in Washington right now about unity — and particularly about setting aside partisan squabbles. But plenty of divisions lie just beneath the surface of this bland rhetoric," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru wrote yesterday at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).
"Congress is thick in discussion over granting war-powers authority to President Bush through legislation. Some Democrats worry about giving too much to Bush — they're warning against what they call 'a blank check.' Of their many possible motives, one seems clear: They're laying the foundation for future criticism of how the Bush administration responds to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"At some point such criticism won't seem as blatantly unpatriotic as it would right now," the writers said.
"How much discretion Congress grants the president is a matter of negotiation — it can be moved in degrees one way or the other. Yet Bush should not give away anything: He should demand the blank check, or something very close to it, and dare Democrats to say no. Even members of the House Anti-American Caucus will have a hard time voting against what Bush requests."

Willful blindness
"As all Americans grapple with the painful fact of our national complacency in the face of terrorism, America's chattering and scribbling classes are going to face a reckoning of their own — and an accounting of their complacency and willful blindness in the face of a growing evil," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.
The columnist noted that the New York Times on Tuesday included what he described as an "adulatory" profile of Bill Ayers, who in 1972, as a member of the Weather Underground, bombed the Pentagon.
Also on Tuesday, New Yorker magazine theater critic John Lahr, writing at the Slate.com Web site, suggested that President Bush might have been behind that day's terror attacks, Mr. Podhoretz said.
Mr. Lahr, saying that "we really don't know who killed Kennedy or Martin Luther King," added: "Isn't it odd that on the day — the DAY — that the Democrats launched their most blistering attack on 'the absolute lunacy' of Bush's unproven missile-defense system that the rogue nation should suddenly become such a terrifying reality.
"The fact that I could even think such a thought says more to me about the bankruptcy and moral exhaustion of our leaders even in the face of a disaster where any action, in the current nightmare, will seem like heroism. But I do smell destabilizing violence in the wings. In fear, the nation, to my mind, has always proved mean-spirited and violent."

Simply defeatism
"A classic piece of appeasement appeared [Wednesday] under the guise of restraint and reason," pundit Andrew Sullivan writes at his Web site (andrewsullivan.com).
"My former colleague and friend Robert Wright argues in Slate against unilateral American action against the forces and states that have just declared war upon the United States. '[K]illing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists (which the perpetrators almost certainly were) can be not just ineffective, but counterproductive.' This is the familiar argument of those who believe that these acts of fanaticism cannot be avenged without spawning more fanaticism. Kill one suicide bomber and you create four more. Wright's argument is that our new enemies are 'simply not susceptible to normal deterrence.'
"If Wright means by this that the indoctrinated handful of young fanatics who will always remain a threat cannot be deterred, he may be right. That is why these people must be hunted down and assassinated, and why we must kill any and all who surround or abet them. But the states and regimes that survive by fostering this evil surely can be deterred — and not by polite threats or warnings. In fact, the absence of a serious deadly response will only convince them to continue to foster the evil in their midst, and it will only get worse," Mr. Sullivan said.
"Wright entertains the fallacy that because we can never eliminate all threats, we cannot eliminate any.
His argument is simply defeatism."

Timeout
"The Media Research Center has decided to defer, for a few days, documentation of any liberal bias occurring during coverage of the terrorist attacks," the MRC's Brent Baker wrote yesterday at the organization's Web site (www.mrc.org).
"Given the tragic events, involving the deaths of thousands and still ongoing rescue efforts, we do not think it appropriate to immediately highlight any political bias when the overwhelming bulk of network coverage, with notable exceptions, is without any political tinge. Furthermore, we realize that at this time the interest of most people is directed at following developments and discussing in what form retaliation should be manifested," Mr. Baker said.
"We are, however, monitoring as much of the continuous coverage as we are able in order to identify any politically skewed reporting or comments from journalists so we can report them at a more appropriate time. As coverage progresses and the amount of time devoted to analysis increases, liberal bias will most likely grow."


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