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Jewish World Review Dec. 8, 2000/ 12 Kislev, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

A President Bush,
and about time, too -- GEORGE W. BUSH, feeling no longer on the bubble (that's Al Gore country), has turned from acting presidential to being presidential, and not a minute too soon.

He warns against isolationism at home and sends a pointed message to Arab terrorists to think two or three times before they give in to their instincts to find American innocents to maim and kill by sneak and stealth.

The president-elect has a full plate ahead of him, and it's not all beans and rice. Some of the hard-to-digest items on his plate, insofar as they are immediately recognizable, look suspiciously like French cookery.

Although the mischief-makers lying in ambush do not all look like Democrats, some do. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland suggests that even if George W. prevails in the Florida Supreme Court, the Charge of the Legal Brigade may not be finished. What, he asked, is so special about the Dec. 12 deadline, or even the one on Dec. 18? The Democrats may be willing to upset the counting even in the Electoral College if that's the only way to keep the Clinton-Gore era on life support.

This kind of talk upsets thoughtful Democrats, like Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. "This is coming to an end," he said late yesterday, and urged Al to concede if Florida's high court denies him the recounts. "More and more people will feel . . . that it's time to think about the Bush presidency."

George W. already is, and is thinking about the importance of protecting the nation's interests. It's no coincidence that the Cabinet officers he has all but appointed already are Colin Powell, who will be secretary of state, and Condoleeza Rice, who will be his national security adviser. They will be among the most powerful men and women in Washington —indeed, the world — and if the rest of the world needs assurance that the new president will pay it close attention, they're that assurance.

Mr. Bush understands that he has to let his agents and his lawyers take care of the mopping up in Florida so that he can turn his attention to events elsewhere. One that will occupy much of his attention in the first months of the Bush restoration is the growing threat to NATO, the cornerstone of the peace that settled over Europe in the late decades of the 20th century. Familiar rascals are trying to make trouble there again.

The Germans and the French, who insist on being the herpes blisters on the face of Europe, want their own little European army, perhaps as a way to chase the Americans out. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen set off an uproar with some plain speech the other day about the dangers posed to NATO by such an army. The Europeans, not satisfied with launching a new currency that nobody wants, are talking one way about organizing their own army and acting another, and Mr. Cohen called them on it. NATO, Mr. Cohen said, could become "a relic of the past" unless the new European army is tied closely to NATO.

This would suit the French just fine. Lionel Jospin, the French prime minister, suggested that the trans-Atlantic alliance had been a Cold War necessity that had held back Europe's desire to establish a common European defense policy.

"The summit in Nice this weekend will put in effect the resolution of the [European Union] to create new institutions and autonomous military capabilities," he said, and listed some of them as a political and security committee, a military committee and a headquarters.

Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor, urged his European Union peers to be "brave" and put "the greater interests of Europe" above petty nationalism. "We must fulfill our historic duty of creating one single Europe," he said. "I will tell my colleagues in Nice: Let's be brave, we must let national interests take second place."

This kind of talk about creating a new fatherland, from a puffed-up German leader, naturally scares the pants off a lot of other folks with intact memories. But not everyone. Jacques Chirac, the president of France, vows to fight "until the bitter end" to prevent the derailing of the Franco-German initiative. The "inviolable equality" of the two great rivals, he says, has been the foundation of European peace. That's an interesting recollection of whose foreign blood saved France.

Tony Blair's government is impatient with American concerns, and the concerns of a growing number of his own countrymen who see the German-French scheme as meant to destroy once and for all the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain. His government dismisses Mr. Cohen's fears as "apocalyptic," that the French prime minister was merely pandering to "internal French politics."

Maybe, but speaking of people with missing pants, where has our own president been? But the good news is that we'll soon have a new one, and just in time.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden