The prayers of millions of Americans, including all of us here at The New York Sun, will be this evening with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been battling the novel coronavirus and, with his condition suddenly worsening, has just been moved into an intensive care unit. Reports say that the premier is conscious and that the move was taken in case he has to go on a respirator. He has, though, deputized the foreign secretary to act for him when needed. The fight for his life appears to be on.
This is a moment to think about the nature of democracy. The drama is not that Mr. Johnsonís life is more important than that of any other mortal. All lives are of infinite value. It is the part of democracy, though, to enable millions freely to invest their hopes and dreams in their leaders, whose fates affect vast numbers far beyond a circle of family and friends.
Rarely, in our newspaper life, have we seen this happen as dramatically as it has in respect of Mr. Johnson. Two times in the past four years, as British independence was in the balance, Mr. Johnson raced into the breach. He played a leading role in the Brexit referendum of 2016 and the general election of December 2019. Few young politicians have been so rewarded with such a mandate.
This owes partly to Mr. Johnsonís skill on the verbal attack. We suspect, though, that such a skill was not what won the day. Rather, aside from his intelligence and experience in journalism and politics, it was his judgement, informed by a keen knowledge of history and uncanny Churchillian sense of language. Plus his optimism and his self-deprecating humor and his warm spirit toward even such adversaries as the parliamentary speaker.
We donít want to get too melodramatic here. This is not a funeral elegy. We have no inside knowledge about the Prime Ministerís health. Before being moved to intensive care, Mr. Johnson was reported to be running the government from his hospital room. His move to an ICU is characterized as precautionary. Thatís how we think of all the prayers being offered ó including from President Trump ó for Mr. Johnsonís speedy recovery.