After Paris, Feinstein and Romney rise
© Greg Nash

"We'll always have Paris," Rick said to Ilsa in "Casablanca," but it is not certain today that we will. The threat to Paris and France is existential if France cannot muster the will to destroy it in its entirety. But the world sang "La Marseillaise" with French President François Hollande this weekend. And as it did in that greatest of movies, it might have cleared the confusion.


Recently, Dick Cheney, vice president to President George W. Bush and architect of the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, was criticized by former President George H.W. Bush, George W.'s father, for his lack of judgement. In response, Cheney said, "The attack on 9/11 was worse than Pearl Harbor, in terms of the number of people killed, and the amount of damage done."

But Pearl Harbor was a trigger mechanism to America's entry into World War II — and Cheney's comments perfectly illustrate the inability of the George W. Bush administration to understand 9/11 and the dynamics of history. 9/11 was not the turning that would bring the world to the fight. 11/13 in Paris, his past weekend, was.

It takes time for the human condition to make the great transition from peace to war. At Pearl Harbor, we were ready and waiting for war. We had not long before engaged in the "Great War" — World War I — and we saw it coming again by 1940 when Germany invaded the Low Countries and Adolf Hitler set his sights on Paris. Historians would have seen it coming since the formulation of the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1882, which left Russia vulnerable and France diplomatically isolated.

The question we ask today goes back to Rick and Ilsa's: Will we always have Paris? Or will France fall to jihadi terrorism? I believe we will, because the terrorist attacks this past week in Paris have now for the first time since 9/11 brought at least to France, and probably to all of northern Europe and even to America, the change in temperament necessary to defend in a war of an existential nature.

A new generation must now rise, a new political temperament must now emerge. Leaders naturally born to this task must be found. Hollande has shown himself to be well-suited to the rising conflict. His resolute response to the tragedy was felt worldwide. He appeared to find an inner strength and calm to match and counter the horrifying events. This maturity and strength will and must be duplicated and found elsewhere now and here in America, as well.

But it will not be found in the lineups of the Democrats or Republicans running for president in 2016.

None of the Democrats has a strategy for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), The New Yorker reports. Republicans in the debate lineup largely default to their usual favorite topic of immigration, a transference which leads away from the issue and back to their campaign, illustrating an inability to discriminate between honorable tomato pickers eeking out a family's living in southern California and hard-bitten terrorists reared in Belgium and trained for jihad in Syria.

As the debates have shown, this race has made no progress on the way to being resolved and the presidential race is dead in the water. The Democrats' "inevitable" leader, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is stuck in the Sixties and the Republicans are in a panic, dreaming of a brokered convention where former 2012 nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE jumps in at the last minute to save the day. The Democrats might start thinking about a brokered convention as well.

Romney did step forth this week with clarity and strength here, as Hollande did in Paris, as did another political veteran. Democratic Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinMcConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Intensifying natural disasters do little to move needle on climate efforts MORE of California, who opposes President Obama's approach, declared that "ISIS is not contained." Romney offered a thoughtful and reasoned response to the new circumstances in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

We face a danger now of four years of leadership ill-equipped by temperament to address and engage the new paradigm shift. Feinstein and Romney might be drafted into the race to 2016 under these new circumstances. A contest ahead between the mature and seasoned Feinstein and Romney might bring greater confidence here and to the world.

They have shown themselves to have the ability to rise in crisis, the gift without which Paris would be lost and so would we. There is still time for this to be done right.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at