One second we are talking about the Lieberman primary loss in Connecticut and the very next, the all but carried out plan by al-Qaida to blow up multiple passenger jets over the Atlantic Ocean. What is the lesson in such a drastic change of subject from the innocuous to the terrifying?
For a number of people in the business of preventing terrorism, it says the 2008 presidential election has to be about electing the candidate most qualified to ensure the national security of our country. It says that ignorance is far from bliss, and potentially suicidal.
Al-Qaida and its twisted imitators will not stop, will not go away, and will not veer from their No. 1 target — the United States. To think otherwise is to endanger our national security.
In various discussions I've had with friends in the military and intelligence services, one point and worry keeps being repeated. Those in the business of protecting America, whether they agree with all of his policies or not, are grateful to have George W. Bush as president.
Their point in expressing such gratitude is that — like him or not — since Sept. 11, 2001, Bush has committed to hunting down and destroying cowardly terrorists who have not only hijacked a religion but, as we have seen in Lebanon, hijacked whole countries in the name of killing the innocent.
These members of the military and our intelligence services know that, in concert with a number of allies including the United Kingdom, Israel and a few Arab nations, the "Bush Doctrine" is to exterminate the threat before it can once again reach our shores.
While the ACLU and some politicians and members of the media on the left may strongly disagree with a number of the tactics employed, they get to live, thrive and complain under the very blanket of that critically important policy.
With the latest plot exposed to blow up these airliners, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) put out the predictable statement that, "We once again urge law enforcement authorities and elected officials to caution against stereotyping entire religious or ethnic groups based on the alleged actions of individuals."
It is not stereotyping if these growing threats continue to come from only one source — a minuscule, twisted segment of the Muslim community. It is a fact that law enforcement has to take into consideration.
With this obviously growing threat in mind, the worry of those entrusted to ensure our safety is this: What if the next president of the United States, for political or "moral" reasons, finds the tactics employed by Bush to be abhorrent or uncivilized.
What if the next president, because of his or her own beliefs, or the beliefs of supporters and others in the administration, deems it unseemly or illegal to hunt down and destroy those who mean to decimate our nation.
Over and over in Washington and New York, you hear, "Gee, I'm always amazed that the terrorists have not hit us again since 9/11." To that, those who protect us would answer, "It's because we have not given them time to breathe. With no publicity, with no fanfare, with no regrets, we hunt them down, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We find them and we neutralize them. As we have been authorized to do."
Should the next president not rigidly adopt this policy, then those who protect us predict that the terrorists, in very short order, will reconstitute themselves and hit us harder and in a much more lethal way than 9/11.
Those who would be president need, at least in this one area, to cast aside the partisan spin, the rose-colored glasses and the advice of the appeasers. They need to assess the growing threats in a factual and honest manner.
Those threats come from the Middle East, where there is an assembly line of Islamists being supplied by the likes of Iran, Syria, China and Russia, Each distinct terrorist organization has the same tired and hackneyed slogan: "Death to the United States, Israel, and all nonbelievers." It is a threat made all the more serious with the realization that in the current war with Israel, Hezbollah has missiles much more powerful than previously thought. If they do, who else does, or is ahead of schedule?
Then there is North Korea. No matter the failure of its 4th of July missile launches, by the time the next president is sworn in North Korea will have a missile capable of reaching our west coast.
In our own hemisphere we have Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, an unhinged megalomaniac who is not only doing all in his power to destabilize South America, but is working bloody hand in bloody hand with the regime in Iran to import weapons and manipulate oil prices in an effort to cripple the United States.
Lastly, looming larger than all, is Iran.
Republican or Democrat. Liberal or Conservative. Man or woman. The next president of the United States has to carry on the Bush doctrine against terrorism or all of us could pay an unimagined price.
Surely, going from the innocuous to the terrifying in one news cycle tells a candidate at least that much.
MacKinnon was press secretary to former Senator Bob Dole and is a former White House and Pentagon official.