Barack Obama and Rush Limbaugh will both be leaving Hawaii with a better prognosis for the new decade than events of the holiday season might have provided.
If the Christmas Day body bomber had not been thwarted, the President's vacation would have been cut short to lead the nation in mourning hundreds of victims of what he today clearly attributed to terrorism: "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”
As daunting as his challenge is to "to make sure our hard-working men and women in our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities have the tools and resources they need to keep America safe," the President will start that process in an atmosphere without the shock, rage and grief of another 9/11.
There may never be a precise answer to what determined the narrow margin of that suicide bomber's failure, once again underscoring how much more contingent real life is than political rhetoric.
That realization presents itself again with the emergence of Rush Limbaugh from a Hawaiian hospital after his own near-death experience on Christmas Eve. In a press conference, a relaxed, almost beatific Limbaugh calls the scare a "blessing in disguise," noting, "It takes things like this in life maybe to prepare you for the eventuality that you are getting older, you're not as young as you were, and not as invincible as you once thought you were."
Limbaugh and America were both lucky to dodge a bullet this week, and we might start the new year with a nod to Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" by giving "Thanks to the human heart by which we live,/Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears" and easing up on blaming one another for what human beings can't control.