The vast crowds of Americans in Athens, Ephesus and Rome underscore that European tourism has rebounded from the damage of 9/11, and the refusal of any of our fellow travelers to be deterred from their itineraries after the London/Glasgow attacks confirms that we are all getting used to the idea that terrorists will do their best to deter such economy-lifting trips and that Westerners are determined to deny them that advantage.
More important, though, the London bomb plot failed because open Western societies are more resilient than we sometimes think they are. One of the Piccadilly car bombs was discovered because an ambulance crew, responding to an unrelated call, saw smoke seeping from a car trunk and alerted the police. The other car was illegally parked, and London’s super-vigilant, much-hated traffic wardens towed it to a parking lot, where someone noticed that it smelled of gasoline and alerted the police.
That Britain has functional ambulance services and working traffic wardens, all of whom are civic-minded enough to call the police when they suspect something is amiss, may not sound extraordinary. But these are precisely the kinds of institutions that are missing in many places, among them Baghdad, a city where parking isn’t exactly a public preoccupation and where the civic-minded avoid the police, who are, fairly or unfairly, suspected of everything from ethnic cleansing to taking bribes.
In Glasgow the story was similar. The two men who drove their car into an airport door were stopped by police working together with pedestrians, one of whom wrestled the driver — who had just doused himself with gasoline — to the ground. The authorities weren’t successful by themselves, in other words; they were successful in conjunction with a supportive public. Again, this particular form of cooperation isn’t available in many countries, and certainly not in Iraq, where the authorities don’t enjoy the public’s trust at all.
So, what did I miss while away?
The immigration bill died. Good.
Talk radio is under attack, what a surprise.
And the president did the right thing with the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence. Those on the right condemning him for refusing a pardon should realize that Libby’s appeal is still alive and it would be much better for Libby to receive a judgment from the D.C. Circuit that the proceeding was a sham after the Armitage leak was discovered than having the matter end now with a pardon.
Senator Clinton, of all people, denounced the decision tp commute the sentence. Truly her statement has got to have a place in the Irony Hall of Fame:
“Today’s decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration’s politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House’s efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.”
I’ll spend most of the program today on the Libby decision, as well as the failing McCain campaign. While I was gone the GOP primary campaign settled into the very defined form it will take from now until Iowa, with Romney leading in Iowa and New Hampshire, Fred in South Carolina, and Rudy in the national polls and gambling on Romney and Thompson holding each other off until Rudy can win or lose in Florida. Romney will maintain a slight lead in total funds raised over Giuliani when the Q2 reports come out this week, but might be behind in cash on hand, with Rudy winning the second quarter fundraising totals. Romney’s said to have pumped some of his own cash into the race above the $2.1million in Q1, which is fine provided he doesn’t exceed 50% of the total raised. I have always argued that a candidate willing to invest as much as the voters in his own candidacy is very different from a self-funder who cannot establish a base of contributors. Romney’s deep pockets and willingness to go there also represents a powerful signal to the GOP that he can deal with Bloomberg and the 527s better than anyone else.
Finally a thanks to guest hosts Kevin James, Carol Platt Liebau and Congressman John Campbell, and especially Dean Barnett. All got rave reviews in the e-mails I have been scanning, and it is wonderful to have such folks available to fill during my annual foray into the cruise business. (David Allen White and Mark Roberts were spectacular, btw.) Patrick and Dean also kept the posts flowing so I didn’t have to stay on board when we got near an internet connection. All of these efforts are much appreciated.