Consensus Building: Protect U.S. First

Consensus building: Protect U.S. first
August 24, 2006

Some good news to report: There's an emerging consensus that the best way to defend America is to defend America. Not everyone, in either party, is on board with that protect-the-homeland idea just yet. But we're getting there, thanks to the common sense of ordinary Americans.

Let's consider two good-news items that will affect the politics of 2006 and beyond:

First, the reaction to the Aug. 17 decision by federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor of Detroit, which sought to cancel the National Security Agency's “terrorist surveillance program.”

That decision – that warrantless wiretapping is unconstitutional – was a short-term victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and its allies on the litigationist left. (Taylor gave the government until Sept. 7 to appeal before her ruling ends the program.) But it will be remembered in the long term as a defeat for the idea that liberal-activist judges should dictate homeland security.

Taylor's decision was spectacularly ill-timed, of course, since it came just a week after the British government announced it had broken up an airplane-bomb plot involving lots of suspicious contacts between people living in Britain and Pakistan – exactly the sort of murderous international communicating and conspiring the U.S. government's program was designed to intercept. Moreover, the day after Taylor's decision, the German government announced it had uncovered a separate plot, evidently also by Muslims, to blow up passenger trains in Germany.

So let's be clear here: Terror plots aren't just figments of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' imagining or White House adviser Karl Rove's wag-the-dogging. Efforts to kill us are real, and they need to be stopped.

The New York Times editorial page cheered Taylor's ruling, but most top Democrats kept a quiet distance. Indeed, the Dems seem to have learned a lesson: In the battle of Uncle Sam vs. Osama bin Laden, the overwhelming majority of Americans are rooting for Uncle Sam – even if that means George W. Bush might get some credit.

But the president has to learn a few things, too, about defending America. And that lesson is being provided by our second piece of good news: the instant success of conservative commentator Pat Buchanan's new book, “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” Is there any part of that title that doesn't get its message across? And it's No. 1 on

Writing from a deeply informed historical perspective, Buchanan seems pessimistic: “As Rome passed away, so the West is passing away, from the same causes and in much the same way. What the Danube and Rhine were to Rome, the Rio Grande and Mediterranean are to America and Europe, the frontiers of a civilization no longer defended. . . . The children born in 2006 will witness in their lifetimes the death of the West.” Scary stuff.

And if we would simply look at Washington and its current cast of characters, it would be easy to share Buchanan's pessimism. Inside the Beltway, the Republican and Democratic elites long ago agreed on open borders: Top GOPers are eager to flood the country with cheap labor; top Dems look forward to importing more donkey voters.

But out in the heartland people are taking Buchanan's message to heart. And they aren't just reading about it; they're doing something about it. Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman recently traveled to Arizona and found voters aflame with border-control enthusiasm; as the Postie put it: “Opposition to a porous border may be to November 2006 what opposition to gay marriage was to November 2004.” Liberals and other open-borderers are horrified, of course, but some multicultural cows will have to be sacrificed to protect and defend this country.

Democrats are learning left-wing judges aren't just destructive to our national security; they are toxic for the politicians who appoint or defend them. And as for Bush-type Republicans, it will eventually come clear even to them that Americans want U.S. troops to defend our country first, and abstract notions of Arab-world “democracy” defended second, if at all.

James P. Pinkerton's e-mail address is