This column was written by Seth Swirsky.
People in America feel safe, and President Bush - thanks to his advocacy of tough FISA laws, winning in Iraq, taking on the Taliban in Afghanistan, etc. - deserves the credit. Therefore, Bush also deserves the credit for making the Obama candidacy palatable.
Why? Because Americans simply will not elect a liberal when they feel fear. Without Bush's success against terror, a leftist newcomer with little experience - like Barack Obama - would never be considered for the presidency.
Similarly, Americans could only elect Jimmy Carter because they felt safe. The chill between America and the former Soviet Union had thawed considerably by 1976. The countries collaborated on the immensely successful Apollo-Soyuz space missions, signed a nuclear agreement (the SALT Treaty), and entered a period of détente.
Yes, there were international incidents that threatened to derail this precarious understanding. The 1973 Arab-Israeli war, for one, certainly heightened tensions. But by and large the late '60s through the early '80s was a time of significantly less anxiety. The architects of Détente were Republican President Nixon and his Republican Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They made Carter possible.
(Of course, a safe-feeling citizenry doesn't guarantee a Democratic win, as Reagan took over in 1980.)
It's the same story with another liberal, Bill Clinton. If the Soviet Union hadn't come apart, no one would have considered the young, unknown governor of Arkansas for the top job in 1992. It's only because Ronald Reagan brilliantly managed the end of the Cold War, and George H. W. Bush defanged (at the time) Saddam Hussein in Gulf War I, that our country would even contemplate such a thing.
Democratic presidents with neither foreign policy experience nor impressive legislative accomplishments - charismatic, good-looking, and well-spoken agents of "change" - seem to come along in 16 year intervals: JFK in 1960, Carter in 1976, and Clinton in 1992.
Now here we are, 16 years after Clinton, and Barack Obama is another young, unknown liberal. Does anyone really believe, if we had been attacked a number of times over these past seven years, the empty bromides of "Yes We Can" from a former "community organizer" would have registered in Iowa?
Of course, the Left insists that we're no safer than we were before 9/11. But, until they come up with a number lower than zero, as in the number of attacks against us since then, that argument remains silly.
If the atmosphere remains as calm through November as it is today - and Senator Obama is elected - his first "thank you" note should be addressed to his predecessor. But if Russia continues to rear its head (by continuing provocations in the Ukraine, for instance), or if a confrontation with Iran unfolds, Americans are unlikely to elect a liberal.
By Seth Swirsky
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online