Tuesday

September 19th, 2017

Insight

Reading the handwriting on the wall

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published Sept. 20, 2016

 Reading the handwriting on the wall

Everything old becomes new, if you wait long enough. Barack Obama "reassures" the nation in the wake of another radical Islamic attack on New York City and in nearby New Jersey, and a frenzy of stabbing in a shopping mall in Minnesota. Hillary Clinton, the president's designated preserver of his legacy (such as it is), urges everyone to "reserve judgment" on what happened and who might have done it until an investigation is complete

But events have moved beyond the work of "a task force" and the learned papers of earnest doctors of philosophy. Such "reassurance" as the president offers is thin soup for a public that wants leaders to recognize the task at hand and set about doing something about it.

Liberals - and their slippery successors, the "progressives" - are fond of task forces and study groups eager to blow public money on frivolities and excuses for action. Such frivolities create jobs, of a sort, but politically correct expla­nations satisfy only a declining market for humbuggery. It's no fair picking on a lady in distress with fatigue, hacking coughs and now pneumonia, but Hillary's admonition to wait for investiga­tors to finish their work before assigning blame recalls Michael Dukakis' famous answer to a pointed question in a presidential debate in 1988.

One of the inquiring minds on the panel of interlocutors wanted to know what his reaction would be if a rapist broke into the Dukakis boudoir in the middle of the night, no doubt expect­ing the governor to say he would take a Smith & Wesson .356 magnum out of the drawer of his bedside table, or take a knife from under his pillow, or at least throw his wife's hairbrush at the intruder's head. No, the little Duke replied, he would want a task force to study the root causes that drive a poor man to rape. Voters were in no mood for root causes that year, and the answer probably cost the governor, who had released a notorious rapist from Massachusetts state prison to rape again, the election to George H.W. Bush.

This year the public shows little patience for imaginative excuses for sloth and excuses. The president may not recog­nize the enemy, nor can Hillary summon the grit to leave the campaign path that her mentor has blazed for her. But the public can. Donald Trump called the unidentified explosive device what everybody else called it, "a bomb," and the "corroborating evidence" that some of his critics said he did not wait for was the instinctive knowledge that if something explodes, it's usually a bomb.

Even the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, declared the big bang that rocked Chelsea and blew out windows for blocks around an "intentional" act, using his keen powers of observa­tion to figure out that few bombs are left in garbage bins by absent-minded apartment-dwellers.

The average American, if not the average Democratic politi­cian, has no trouble understanding that the continuing terrorist attacks in cities large and small across America - at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, at a not-very-gay gay nightclub in Or­lando, at a military installation in Chattanooga, an Army recruit­ing station in Little Rock, an alley in New York City, a charity marathon in Elizabeth - are the work of an enemy determined to frighten, weaken and exhaust America until it submits to a grim and gruesome version of an aggressive political ideology posing as religious faith.

Donald Trump has dramatically tightened the presidential race not by fiery rhetoric on the stump, or in the television com­mercials that usually define a modern national election, but by unaccountably keeping a discreet distance from the shouting. The man with the tongue of an adder has suddenly kept his lip mostly buttoned, and it's Hillary who has turned to insult and abuse, like calling Trump voters "a basket of deplorables" and irredeemables at that, to get her spluttering campaign fired up and moving again.

President Obama keeps repeating, as if a mantra, that Amer­ica and its allies are winning "the war" against ISIS, and Hillary keeps dutifully tagging along in his wake, eager to repeat the mantra. The president may even believe what he's saying, though if he's half as smart as his fans say he is he knows it's moonshine raised in a toast to the legacy he will soon leave behind.

The cops and the FBI, and the president himself, insist the perpetrators of the bloody events of the weekend, vary­ing in method and sophistication, are not necessarily linked. But they are, by making common cause against an America they hate. The working stiffs can see it, even if the politi­cians can't.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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