Political Gratitude on Thanksgiving

The cooking has begun, the relatives are pouring into town and the weekend holiday shopping strategy has been mapped out. But let’s pause for a moment and remember that in addition to our gratitude for the personal joys and success which we enjoy there is also much to be grateful for in our political lives.

We are grateful to have had Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Milton Friedman. They are gone but their legacies, accomplishments and ideas guide us. We forget at our peril their key message: freedom is precious and never without sacrifice. We should also remember their wit and delight in the truism that our political foes can be an endless source of amusement.

We are grateful, even if polling tells us we should be despondent, that we live in a time of robust economic health, unprecedented wealth, noninflationary growth and rising productivity and  incomes. The combination of sober monetary policy, low taxes, free trade and reasonable regulation has fueled America’s and the world’s prosperity.

We are grateful to have incompetent and irrational political opponents. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would have to be invented if they did not exist. Immigration reform was handily defeated, more than 60 efforts to defund or halt the war have failed, SCHIP has not become a new middle class entitlement and Judge Southwick and Judge Mukasey were both confirmed. Now, Republican leadership most clearly in the person of Mitch McConnell, deserve some of the credit, but we couldn’t have done it with the dynamic duo of Nancy and Harry.

We are grateful that the three networks and the New York Times are not the only sources of news in America. Not since the American Revolution and the days of pamphleteers has there been such a robust and (small “d”) democratic free press. Conservative blogs and talk shows single handedly unmasked the contents of the McCain Kennedy immigration bill and uncovered the lies of the Baghdad diarist.

We are grateful that General Petraeus — even in the eyes of the MSM — has made significant military progress in Iraq. Other institutions may lack competence and our confidence but given adequate resources, appropriate rules of engagement and clear direction there is simply no institution that delivers better result than the U.S. military.

We are grateful that the top Democratic presidential contenders are running on a platform of higher taxes, socialized medicine, military surrender and judicial activism. Had any of the top contenders ever been a chief executive or completed a couple terms in the Senate, Republicans would be unable to call this the most under-qualified field of candidates ever to run for a major party’s nomination. As dreadful as most of the Democratic debates have been, we are pleased to have the YouTube material for the general election.

We are grateful that there are new leaders in Germany and France and old friends in Australia and Canada who recognize the value of freedom and appreciate the indispensible role of America in providing safety and security to free people. In President Sarkozy conservatives have found a role model for an important proposition: well articulated conservative ideals can win elections regardless of our opponent’s gender.

We are grateful for a Supreme Court with Justices Alito and Roberts that upheld the partial birth abortion ban, struck down assignment of students by race in two school districts and defended interest group advocacy against the pernicious idea that political ads could be banned in the name of campaign finance reform. We should however keep in mind that the Court is never “won” and the battle to confirm judges who leave policy battles to the political arena is never ending.

We are grateful that President Bush has rediscovered his veto pen, that Republican office holders are attempting to rediscover their reputation for fiscal sanity and that in Tom Coburn conservatives have someone who values budgetary discipline over Senatorial comity.

And on a personal note I am grateful for the unwavering support of family and the countless kindnesses and valued advice given by editors, colleagues, and readers in this remarkable year.

So enjoy the turkey and the football, avoid the crowds at the mall and make your own list — it will do wonders for your holiday spirit.