**As a whole, the dems don't get it. Sadly the republicans are only slightly better, as a group. Until the US awakens to the war we are in, very little to address the threat will be accomplished.**http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/g/305a06fd-9024-4fc0-ac05-f9ca707bb100
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Leave No Congressman Behind!
Posted by Dean Barnett | 6:15 PM
Yesterday the blogosphere?s series of interviews with the leadership candidates for the Republican House Conference came to a close. Mercifully.
The last member to walk into our virtual interrogation center was John Boehner, a candidate for minority leader. Boehner is generally unpopular in the blogosphere because he was a ranking member of the last leadership team whose record was Cleveland Indians-esque. Other pundits don?t like Boehner for more substantive reasons; I?ve received a couple of emails today running down a rather exhaustive list of disastrous legislation Boehner supported ranging from No Child Left Behind to the Prescription Drug Boondoggle.
At the risk of sounding like a semi-apostate, I found Boehner to be an extremely impressive guy. Well spoken and authoritative, he was every bit the alpha-dog. After speaking with him, there was little doubt why he has emerged as a leader amongst his colleagues.
THAT?S THE GOOD NEWS. There?s also some bad news. As was the case with three previous conference call attendees, I asked Boehner the question. To refresh your memory, I had asked three other congress-people the following:
What books have you read about Islamic terrorism against America and the West?
None of the three were able to name a single book. Boehner followed suit, saying that he had read books on the subject but that he couldn?t give me any names.
There was one other noteworthy exchange during the Boehner conference call. One blogger asked Boehner what blogs he reads. Oddly, given the self regard of the blogging community (a phenomenon that I am hardly immune from), this was the first time anyone had asked any of the representatives such a question.
I thought it was a softball. I figured Boehner would say Powerline and Instapundit and of course the blogs represented on the conference call. Instead, Boehner responded that he doesn?t read blogs, but that he does have a member of his staff who reads them and periodically prepares a digest for him on what the blogs are saying.
The questioner then fired off a follow up: From where does the congressman get his news? Boehner told us that he gets his news mostly from the newspapers.
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, Boehner?s series of answers regarding his reading habits and the insight we?ve received regarding other members? reading habits (or lack thereof) can help us make sense of a lot of things.
One thing most every reader of conservative blogs comprehends is the existential stakes of the current war. People who read blogs are high end gatherers of news. They?re outliers, but in a very good way. They?re people like my friend, Dr. (of medicine, i.e. a real doctor) Andy Bostom who reacted to 9/11 by learning everything he could about Islam. The product of his research was the thorough and seminal book, ?The Legacy of Jihad.?
I?m always astonished by how well informed the readers of a site like this one are. Since I put out a call for books that might help our congressmen get up to speed, I?ve been deluged by responses. Blog readers are high end news consumers, and by nature intellectually curious.
Now imagine if you didn?t read blogs and didn?t read books. Picture all the things that you know now that you wouldn?t know if you left your news gathering to the tender mercies of the mainstream media?s editorial decisions. You?d probably be unaware of the ghastly fate that awaits 200 French automobiles each evening at the hands of rampaging ?youths.? You?d definitely be unaware of the youths? affiliation with certain religious practices.
If all your news came from newspapers, you wouldn?t understand how numerous, determined and flat-out crazy our enemies are. You wouldn?t know how widespread the phenomenon of Radical Islam is because the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal don?t report it. Every now and then you would stumble over an editorial or op-ed piece highlighting a particularly pathological incident, but you would have no concept of how massive the problem is.
AND THIS IS WHERE WE CLOSE THE LOOP. I?ve long wondered how our leaders can be so unserious about the fight we?re in given the existential stakes. Now I get it ? they just don?t understand the stakes. The newspapers haven?t told them that we?re in a fight for our lives. Lord knows the intelligence agencies don?t get it. And now we know the congressmen themselves take either no or precious little initiative to educate themselves.
So on the left you get relentless partisanship because they don?t understand that there are larger issues involved. On the right you get mantra-like chanting of ?We must win in Iraq? but with little understanding of how the battle in Iraq fits in with the greater war. This explains why we haven?t heard a single one of our leaders offer a vision of how we?re going to not only ?win? in Iraq but how we?re also going to ?win? in Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. They do not grasp the size of our challenge.
So what to do? If our congressmen have no interest in educating themselves, we must take it upon ourselves to do it for them. For too long our congressmen have been victims of the soft bigotry of low expectations. We?ve allowed them to skate by kissing babies and appearing on Hannity & Colmes without insisting that they actually bring themselves up to speed on the most pressing issue of our day.
So I?m thinking of creating a Congressional-level version of Oprah?s book club. Think of it as Deano?s Book Club. I would like to get a list of three books that absolutely every congressman must read, or at the very least have a staffer read and then explain it to him.
And we must plan to check how they?re doing on their homework assignments. Shhh - don?t tell anyone, but I have a friend in radio and we might be able to convince him to ask his guests occasionally how their reading project is coming along.
My vital three books are:
?The Looming Tower? by Lawrence Wright
?Future Jihad? by Walid Phares; and
?America Alone? by Mark Steyn
Leave your suggestions in the comments and we?ll arrive at a consensus. Remember our goal here ? leave no congressman behind.
Compliments? Complaints? Contact me at Soxblog@aol.com