'Twas the Night Before Christmas 2001

Commentary by Pete du Pont

With Apologies to Clement C. Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land, not a creature was stirring, not even Saddam. Special Forces were searching Tora Bora with care, in the hopes that Bin Ladin would soon be found there.

The Congress was back to their bickering ways, as debates about stimulus seemed to drag on for days; As the Dems stalled for more spending, and the GOP for tax cuts, the nation's economy dug itself out of its rut.

Out in the heartland, people focused on what really matters, spending time with their children, filled with hope yet a little bit sadder. The sentimental patriotism that swept the nation in a flash, seemed to linger and strengthen a steely resolve to match.

The nation had experienced a gut-wrenching blow, but instead of flinching our courage we did show. A beacon of freedom and a City on a Hill, these America was before, and we pray it always will. With a people so humble, yet driven to excel, our industries and markets will soon swell.

Yet as the president delivers his next State of the Union address, he should remind Congress election years bring with them special tests. Will they act on Health Care, Medicare and Social Security too? Or seeking partisan gain will they pass legislation few. Voters seeing inaction will get fed up with the stall, and will march to their voting booths shouting dash away, dash away, dash away all!

Our problems are real but not an insurmountable lot; for instance Social Security is saddled with an imaginary pot. But with leadership and honesty we can grab the "third rail;" and develop a fair system that all sides could hail.

Medicare's in worse shape than its entitlement brother, with dwindling resources and drugs it won't cover. It needs Congress to step back and provide some fresh thinking; it is too important a program, we must prevent it from sinking.

Congress's approach to health care, well I'm not a fan; the real problem isn't abuses or cost, but who pays for the health plan. When patients control their own money, they're in the driver's seat; and just like any other market, their desires insurance companies will surely meet.

As next year progresses and memories fade, the true legacy of this Congress will surely be made. Will they dive back into their partisan squalor, or will the stand up and act like statesmen with honor?

And what will become of 2000's narrow choice; a leader who through crisis found his voice? Some had said he had a mandate of zero, yet he rose from the ashes to become our nation's hero.

Will he win the war but lose the recession; or did he learn from his father's hard lesson? He's won our hearts with his courage and straight talk; but if the economy still languishes, voters may ask him to walk. He must show the homefront his warfront resolve; and detail for us how our problems he'll solve.

But there's plenty of time for this political play, now is the time to enjoy the holiday. It's time for carols that children will sing; it's Christmas in America; let the freedom bells ring.

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