Peggy Noonan , one of the most exceptional writers of all time and one you can expect to see quoted here often, has an amazing piece in today's Opinion Journal about what the product of Bush's vision for his new department should be. She writes the most obvious, hopeful thing: that Rudy Giuliani should head the new department. She writes:
It is absurd even to consider anyone else. Mr. Giuliani may in fact be the only person who could do it. He has the standing for the job. He is the symbol of Sept. 11 leadership and Sept. 11 suffering, of Sept. 11 success and American toughness. He is a galvanizing, dramatic figure who comes with his own klieg lights. People on the ground admire him, and people in the bureaucracy will fear him. This is good.
Tom Ridge, through little fault of his own, is a symbol of failure, a symbol of a governmental response that so far has not worked. He is Mr. Yellow Alert.
Mr. Giuliani's unique standing gives him the one thing the new director must have: pull and sway with Congress and the public to do what needs to be done, from profiling to a national ID card to fingerprinting to taking on Norm Mineta's Transportation Department for its security rules, which at once betray a frightened timorousness and an unwillingness to respect others. (E.g., pilots can't be armed because they can't be trusted not to run around shooting people.) Unlike Mr. Mineta, Mr. Giuliani knows what time it is. And he loves to tell people what he knows.
I know that as time progresses and September 11th moves further into our past, some people will say that Giuliani was an unspectacular leader and he had his moment of greatness on that awful day through 'luck'. The truth is Giuliani was the best leader I had seen in my life well before 9/11. I was too young to really remember Reagan (he left office when I was 11, though as my brother was named after him I'll let you imagine for yourself the kind of stories I heard at the dinner table), Bush Sr. never really made any impression on me beyond the belief that Republicans should never raise taxes under any circumstances and I don't have to go into what I think about Clinton as even my first two posts can give you some indication as to what I'd say about the man. On a local level, the only mayor I can remember clearly was Dinkins and what I remember was weakness in our leader and fear in our city. Even before the Crown Heights riots that he was powerless to stop, I remember how scary the subways were and how high the murder rate was. When Giuliani came into office, I was dividing my time between Boston and Scotland. My parents and friends would tell me what a great job he was doing but it really didn't mean anything to me in any real sense. I came home for a summer in 1996 and I saw how things had already started to change. When I moved back for good in 1999, it was a new city from the one I had left 5 years prior. The city just felt different, looked different, and better. The look of defeat was no longer a New York trademark. A lot of people miss that defeatism, for reasons not understandable to me. They miss the dirty New York where you couldn't walk ten feet in the Village without being offered drugs, where criminals had the run of things, beggers were everywhere, hookers hung out freely on that island in the middle of the street on the Bowery and being afraid after dark was the norm. They call it 'gritty'. I call them stupid. And more often than not, the people that miss the 'old' New York are not native New Yorkers. They were people who had seen too many movies and decided to live that underachieving dream.
Now that fear has become a national curse with terrorist warnings coming in from everywhere, with all of us being targets, I'm hoping for Rudy to take over and to tell us all what time it is, again. # Posted 10:45 AM