To burn, or not to burn?
That is the question crackpot Terry Jones -- the pastor of a fringe Florida church all but unknown until a week ago -- was mulling late yesterday after receiving an unprecedented personal phone call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, imploring him not to incinerate a stockpile of Korans tomorrow, the anniversary of 9/11.
Jones had demanded that the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon call and ask him to desist.
No, he didn't speak to President Obama -- but scoring a private chat with one of the nation's highest-ranking Cabinet secretaries is pretty impressive for an unhinged preacher with a can of gas.
ndeed, Gates' call followed hours of debate at the highest government levels.
Fact is, the White House has been treating this lunatic as a greater threat to national security than Osama bin Laden.
The president himself went on TV to plead with him not to burn the books. And Gen. David Petraeus -- in a decidedly ill-advised move -- publicly warned that if Jones followed through, US troops would be put at risk.
This isn't to take that threat lightly; no doubt what Petraeus said is true. But since when do serving military officers get to insert their views into what is essentially a domestic political matter?
More to the point, since when has US government policy been driven by obscure lunatics in search of publicity?
(Or, for that matter, by the specter of rioting mobs overseas?)
And what happens when the next nut case decides that a call from Gates isn't good enough -- that the president must come on the line?
Once begun, such things never end.
Late yesterday, Jones called off his absurd protest, claiming Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had agreed, in return, to move his proposed mosque away from Ground Zero. This, Rauf swiftly denied -- prompting Jones to indicate last night that the bonfire might be back on.
So the outcome isn't clear -- but the lesson for Gates and the administration certainly is.
There's no dealing with lunatics. One shouldn't even try. (Source)