Alexander's Column

Federalist Year-End Perspective

Mark Alexander · Dec. 28, 2001

This first year of the millennium has been a climactic one, in which recent political and cultural commentary repeatedly reminded our nation that “everything has changed.” But our readers can rest assured that The Federalist will never waver from our dedication to the principles of our nation’s founding, and our commitment to providing reporting and analysis of news, policy and opinion in the light of those principles.

In review of this year past, here are a few snapshots from our 2001 editions.

  1. Top of the fold…

The biggest story of the year arrived September 11th, when international terrorism visited the World Trade Center again, claiming the lives of thousands of our countrymen. Cells of terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network hijacked four commercial jetliners, flying two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon, while brave patriots on the fourth fought their captors – losing their lives in a Pennsylvania field rather than at the terrorists’ intended target in our nation’s capital. They became the fist combat casualties of our war against Jihadistan.

The year began with the final days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, during which the Prevaricator-in-Chief’s last scandal in office, Pardongate (granting pardons for campaign cash), played out. Lingering bitterness over the close and hard-fought presidential election between George W. Bush and Albert Arnold Gore provided ample opportunity for the Leftmedia to again demonstrate just how wrong they could be – in this case, predicting that President Bush would be dogged by contentiousness and resentment during his term of office, and that he lacked the stature of a Commander-in-Chief.

In fact, the year laid bare stark revelations of the media’s proneness to mistaking evanescent symbolic displays for real actions, in their clear preference for Mr. Clinton, as well as their perennial failure to recognize the harbingers of effective leadership – including Mr. Bush’s quiet qualities of strength of character and prudence in judgment. Not least in that prudential judgment has been Bush’s selection of such administration leaders as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who, along with Attorney General John Ashcroft, have proven nothing less than Reaganesque in their stalwart, skillful cabinet performances.

Though Mr. Bush has advanced some dubious national legislation (most notably his education and faith initiatives), he demonstrated early on that substance and character trump symbolism. Accordingly, The Federalist, just one month into President Bush’s first term and amid all the hand-wringing about the legitimacy of his election, became the first national publication to predict he will win reelection by a landslide in 2004 – just as he won his second term as Governor of Texas. (And as our friend Dick Cheney has indicated he will not be on the ticket in ‘04, Bush-Rumsfeld is looking like a good fit!)

Our estimation of his leadership ability was borne out in the hours, days and weeks following 9-11, as he established himself a most remarkable national and world leader. The foreign policy of the United States was forever changed by his moral clarity in declaring, “If you harbor a terrorist, you’re a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist, you’re a terrorist.” This marked a sea change in policy, from the Clinton era of lip service, to the Bush test of results orientation and performance.

For a man discounted at the year’s start as lacking gravitas, Mr. Bush has proven to be long on substance. And the year 2001 could rightly be cast as a study in symbolism versus substance. A preference for symbolism invited the 9-11 terrorist strikes, but the substance of the American people and our president’s leadership have answered the assault on our nation with forthright vigor and clarity. We have yet to identify a single Leftist in the halls of Congress who is willing to suggest that our nation would be better served at this juncture by “that other guy.”

The Satanic messengers of 9-11 estimated they could bring the United States to submission by attacking what they believed were the greatest symbols of our nation. The World Trade Center and Pentagon are symbols, but they do not constitute our substance – as Satan’s messengers have discovered, and will continue to discover. We are “one nation, under God,” and we will remain His!

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