Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person
And yet, if you're as invested as the Democrats are in reconstructing the cardboard facade of Sept. 10, I can understand why you'd think Pretty Boy did a grand job last Tuesday. That's what my tennis/football analogy boils down to: One team's playing by Sept. 11 rules, the others are running a Sept. 10 campaign. I find it hard to believe that 51 percent of folks in states totaling 270 electoral votes are willing to cast a delusional ballot to return to the fictions of Sept. 10. But, if they are, so be it. If a majority of Americans want to pretend that the U.N. isn't a sewer of corruption and that the French are America's allies, not Saddam's, well, we'll just have to live with the consequences.
Asked about his qualifications to be vice president and thus -- in the event of John Kerry being felled by a grisly windsurfing tragedy -- president and commander in chief, John Edwards talked about what ''the American people want in their president and in their vice president.'' First, he said, ''they want to know that their president and their vice president will keep them safe.''
Oh, phooey. That would be a neat line if the American people had all got lead-poisoning and hired you to file the all-time class-action suit on their behalf. But no president can guarantee safeness in unsafe times. What he can do is demonstrate the necessary will to roll back the threat and exterminate it, and encourage the American people to maintain that resolve, too -- as Churchill did in Britain's darkest hour, after the fall of France and with German invasion imminent, when he told the people ''you can always take one with you.'' In time of war, free peoples don't stay free if they look to a smooth-talking shyster-president to shelter them in the embrace of the nanny-state.
The strongest force in international affairs is inertia. It's everywhere: a continuous pressure from the U.N., the EU, the Chinese, the Arab League, the State Department and half the federal bureaucracy to do nothing about anything -- do nothing about the Sudanese genocide until everyone's dead, do nothing about Iran's nuclear program until it's complete and the silos are loaded, do nothing about anything except hold meetings and issue statements of concern. To resist the allure of inertia will require enormous will, not just from the president but from the American people. After the vice presidential debate, it was said by many on the right that Dick Cheney came over as the grown-up and John Edwards as the callow youth. But that goes for the audience too. Cheney treated the American people as grown-ups, Edwards condescended to the electorate as a nation of coatless girls. He's wrong, I hope.