What a glorious couple of centuries it has been, all held together by this great string of luck. "The Lord looks after drunks, children and the U.S.A." went the old saying, and it seemed true. But the thing about luck is that, eventually, you run out of it. Everybody craps out in the end. And that is what has happened to us. As Americans go to the polls Tuesday we must confront the fact that we have become a luckless people, all across the political spectrum.Not that one could not have predicted what we're seeing now. Maybe the press couldn't believe the news they were supposed to report. They refused to call a dolt a dolt. Without the press bold enough to tell the truth, a lot of Americans went to the polls and elected an anti-intellectual simpleton. They elected a Forrest Gump to lead a nation composed largely of Forrest Gumps who think pure intentions are better than good intentions plus intelligence and expertise.
But at a moment in history when we faced the most subtle sort of global threat, when we needed not just a willingness to use military force but a leader of real brilliance—someone who would carefully study a little-understood enemy—we got a man who actually took pride in his lack of studiousness. No surprise: Bush never once presided over a grand-strategy session to divine the nature of Al Qaeda, and he ended up lumping Saddam and every Islamist insurgent and terrorist group with Osama bin Laden. He ensured that a tiny fringe group that had been hounded into Afghanistan with no place left to go—one that could have been wiped out had we focused on the task at hand—would spread worldwide and become a generational Islamist threat.
Hirsh is right, but he's six years too late.