Friday, February 23, 2007

Profile in Courage

Profiles in Courage is, of course, the title of the book that 1960 presidential candidate John F. Kennedy authored (or, at least, is said to have authored), helping to launch him into the White House. This campaign season's most plausible aspirant for the the JFK mantle of youth, vigor, and optimism is Barack Obama, Democrats and Republicans alike can agree. He himself is no slouch in the book department. While his have won no Pultizer Prizes (as Kennedy's did), they have both become runaway bestsellers.

But, this post isn't about the Senator's books, nor is really about his campaign, even. I'm still a Republican, and this isn't meant to be a political endorsement of any candidate. But, precisely because I believe so strongly that the issue of homeland security should be treated in a nonpartisan manner, I feel compelled to salute the "gentleman from Illinois" for being a "profile in courage" on this issue.

Contrary to time (dis)honored tradition, the Senator, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced an amendment that would have the effect of cutting the share of scarce homeland security dollars directed to the key early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. The 9/11 Commission and most, if not all, security experts (I, of course, among them) have been arguing for 100% allocation of these funds on the basis of risk. It is an inarguable fact that New York, Washington, DC, and other large cities are far more likely to be the targets of a terror attack than Ames, Iowa, or Keene, New Hampshire. (Okay, we can argue about Las Vegas.) Congress being Congress, it's next to impossible to get to 100%, risk-based funding, but the best you can do is to reduce the minimum allocated to small states. That's exactly what Sen. Obama has proposed.

Putting principle over politics is exactly what presidents should do, especially when, as here, the security of the nation is at stake. So, Senator, kudos, and may your example be followed by your rivals and, ultimately, whichever one of you winds up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a little less than 2 years from now.