A Political Thanksgiving

It’s called Thanksgiving for a reason, so let’s offer our gratitude to the following people, who have made life in America so much richer — and more interesting — over the past year:

1. The men and women of the United States military.  Against some rough odds — in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular — our armed forces are doing the heavy lifting of freedom.  They are the ones who stand between us and the jihad.  And they volunteer to do it.  They choose to give up their families, their friends, better paying — and much safer — jobs, and in some cases, their lives to fight America’s enemies and to do everything they can to protect American life and liberty.  For your selflessness, sacrifice, bravery, and humility: thank you.

2. President Bush. I know it’s not cool to be thanking President Bush, what with his job approval hovering around 40% and his lame duck status.  But this commander-in-chief faced a challenge to this country after September 11, 2001 that was unprecedented in our history.  From that day forward, he chose to take the fight to our enemies rather than wait again for the enemies to bring it to us.  Some of these paths have been controversial.  Some have involved serious mistakes, lost time, and grave setbacks.  But in their totality, they represent a remarkably comprehensive strategy to deal with a global threat of a particularly ruthless and unrelenting kind.  History will judge the efficacy of the strategy, but for your gutsy unwillingness to cave to political pressure at home and terrorist pressure abroad: thank you.

3. General David Petraeus.  Under his leadership, American-led forces in Iraq have cut the number of roadside attacks by over 50%; American casualties are down significantly, as are Iraqi casualties; Iraqi families are moving back to Baghdad by the thousands, and businesses are re-opening at a brisk rate; Anbar province has been largely stabilized, and Al Qaeda has been brought to heel.  Despite being called a “betrayer” by the far left, Petraeus has achieved staggeringly positive results.  For changing Iraq in ways unseen just 12 months ago: thank you.

4. Senator Hillary Clinton.  The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination is a marvel of contradictions.  She’s not running as a woman but reminds us every day that she is.  She’s got “executive experience” but her years in the White House don’t count.  She promises a fantastically “open” administration, but is blocking the release of her records as First Lady.  She’s for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, then she’s not, then she is, and then she’s not.  She called her opponents “naïve” for saying they’d talk to our enemies, but she says she will too.  She voted for the Iraq war but wants the troops home immediately but won’t do it until at least the end of her first term in 2013. She’s for free trade but wants to make trade less free.  For the sheer entertainment value of your chutzpah: thank you.

5. Former President Bill Clinton.  Watching him stand in a pumpkin patch in Iowa opining for over an hour on the finer points of gourd-growing was the late-summer highlight of the presidential campaign.  Watching him trying to perfect the “Nancy Reagan gaze” as he sits bored silly at his wife’s speeches is priceless.  Watching him seduce an audience and then remember he’s seducing them not for himself but for her is heartwarming.  Watching him saying he’d vote for her even if she weren’t his wife is hilarious.  For all of your amusing gall: thank you.

6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  She brought down the gavel last January promising sweeping changes to Congress.  Under her “leadership,” Democrats have repeatedly failed to pressure the president to exit Iraq, failed to override his veto of the SCHIP entitlement, and cannot even approve annual budget bills. (On the upside, some post offices have gotten new names.)  By setting a new standard of legislative incompetence, Pelosi is the best foil the Republicans could have dreamed of.  For tripping up your party: thank you.

7.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  He’s trying to break the back of socialism in France by going eyeball to eyeball with the powerful unions, refusing to cave to their strike demands, and rallying the French people to reform the nation.  For showing that the French are salvageable: thank you.

8. Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.  For continuing to make antiwar movies the public rejects wholesale: thank you.

9. O.J. Simpson.  For reminding rational people of the importance of jury duty.

10.  Congressman Tom Tancredo.  He was talking about the festering problem of illegal immigration before it was hip: the violation of the rule of law, the national security threat, the economic and cultural impact, and the fundamental unfairness.  Often dismissed as a cranky Johnny-One-Note, Tancredo persevered until the American people — and the rest of the political class — paid attention.  For almost single-handedly getting — and keeping — illegal immigration on the national agenda: thank you.

In America, every year is a blessing.