- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2012

Except according to the Lord’s plans - which are not known to man - the “end of the world” is not nigh, although to listen to politicians and pundits, we should be packed and ready to go by next Thursday.

The headlines recently have read like Woody Allen’s 1979 “My Speech to the Graduates”: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. I speak, by the way, not with any sense of futility, but with a panicky conviction.”

Woody Allen, please note, was writing as a comedian.

Of course, surely, with stock markets plunging, cruelly high unemployment and uncertain government (not just in the United States, but around the world) this is not a funny moment. But then, throughout history, few generations have been spared unfunny moments, civilization-threatening dangers and appalling tragedies. After World War II, America had to face and manage the planet-destroying potential of the atomic bomb - the handling of which grayed and thinned the hair, raised the blood pressure and haunted the nights of every American president (and Soviet leaders, too) …

It is the plight of man constantly to face appalling dangers. It is not necessarily our plight to face such challenges with despair, foolishness and fatalism.

The 1980s and 1990s were decades of prosperity for America. Not coincidentally, we were led during those years by presidents (Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) who were optimistic - and knew how to share that optimism, convincingly, with the public. And, during both those decades, with some heavy Newt Gingrich-led GOP policy-wrestling with Mr. Clinton in 1993-97, America benefited from sensible, traditional, more or less free-market policies coming out of Washington.

But recently, America has not been blessed with a reliably free market, fiscally sound policy, nor much sincere, convincing optimism from our most senior Washington leaders - conspicuously including our president, who seems to have been captured by a sense of exhaustion, futility and helplessness. I would suggest that the Republican candidate for president might want to respond with, “Respectfully, Mr. President, if you don’t know what to do with the presidency to save our economy, perhaps the office should be turned over to someone who does.”

The Republican presidential aspirant who can capture optimism in his tone - while realistically describing how traditional American economic policies can regain prosperity for us - is likely to win both the nomination and the presidency. Notwithstanding our current troubles, the underlying strength of the American work force and the unmatched technological depth of our economy will be the basis for our resurgence - when Washington policy once again permits our economy to perform at its full strength.

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