Liberal civilizations often tire of eternal vigilance and in the midst of peacetime affluence work themselves into mass hysteria when challenged. Such is the picture we receive of the Athenian assembly around 340 B.C. when Demosthenes desperately warned that Philip was not a national liberator. Few thought Hannibal really would cross the Ebro. Churchill in the 1930s wasn’t listened to very much — after the Somme, who wanted lectures about deterrence? Ronald Reagan’s earlier prescience about the Soviet threat in the post-Vietnam era prompted Hollywood to turn out cheap TV movies warning of Reagan-inspired nuclear winters. We too are reverting to our childhood and thus are in the same weird mood preferring fantasies and stories to reality. The Democrats know it. And so the unifying theme of their otherwise contradictory messages is that we can return to the infantile delusions of September 10, and not the crisis-filled adult world of post-September 11 that now confronts George W. Bush.
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