At the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings, the Riders of Rohan, led by their King Théoden who, only days before, seemed incapacitated and unable to control his kingdom, are besieged and outnumbered by the forces of Saruman, orcs, half-orcs and wild men of Dunland. As these forces breach the fortress’s outer wall, it seems only a matter of time before they will break through the final gate, defeating Théoden and destroying his kingdom.
But, in his darkest hour, the good king fretted in what he called a “prison,” longing to feel again “the joy of battle.” Even as he fears the end, he will not be taken “like an old badger in a trap” so, instead of hunkering down, the besieged (and seemingly defeated) leader elects to go on the offensive.*
The great horn of Helm rings out and Théoden leads his loyal troops, riding out to take on their relentless foes. His troops rally behind him while their adversaries “cried and wailed, for fear and great wonder had come upon them with the rising of the day.”
So too has President Bush rallied his base with the nomination early this morning of Samuel J. Alito, Jr. as Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. I just spent a couple hours reading conservative blogs and news sites and discovered a unanimity of support for this good judge among writers who were only recently divided over the nomination of Harriet Miers. William Kristol, one of the harshest critics of the Miers pick, wrote this morning that the president hit “a home run” in tapping Alito for the vacancy.
While our adversaries have not yet fled in fear as did Saruman’s armies, they have already begun to tremble, wailing at this allegedly “extremist” pick. The president’s opponents will fight, but because the president made a bold move in appointing a conservative jurist, he has put himself back on the offensive. The left is playing defense now. If the president wants to ensure Judge Alito’s confirmation, to continue the progress in Iraq and to accomplish his domestic policy goals, he needs to keep them there.