Quick, English history buffs: What was the danegeld?

You no doubt recall from high school history classes that the danegeld was the gold the English paid the Danes in lieu of actually trying to prevent the feisty Norsemen from raiding their green and pleasant land. Just FYI: It didn't work out that well for the English.

Victor Davis Hanson invokes the danegeld to explain current U.S. policy in the Middle East:

Like old King Ethelred the Unready, who either had no counsel or had no sense, or both, and often paid the Danegeld rather than attempt to deter the Norsemen, so Barack Obama and his lieutenants still believe that they can both appease radical Islam and convince others that is not what they are doing.

We saw the administration’s attempts at denying the nature of the threat against us in its original insistence, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the murder of an American ambassador to Libya was the result of “a spontaneous act of a crowd that got out of control.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Libyans for "carrying" the ambassador to the hospital, though visual evidence looked more like the ambassador was being dragged through the streets.

Denial is bad enough, but now it appears that the Obama administration may be contemplating an even more outrageous form of paying the danegeld. Michael Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. District judge, worries in today’s Wall Street Journal that the administration is considering the transfer Blind Sheik Abdel Rahman, one of the world’s foremost theologians of terror, whose resume includes a leading role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, to Egyptian custody:

The evidence that the U.S. government is seriously considering transferring him to Egypt is circumstantial. However, as Henry David Thoreau pointed out when dairy customers were suspicious that local farmers had diluted the milk they were selling, "some circumstantial evidence can be very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk." …

Transferring Abdel Rahman to an Egypt already under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood and presided over by Mohammed Morsi would be pouring gasoline on a bonfire.

A congressional staffer I spoke with last week recently called the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and asked to speak with the official in charge of the request to release Abdel Rahman. This call elicited not a denial but rather the disclosure that the matter was within the portfolio of the deputy chief of mission, for whom the caller was invited to leave a message.

Then there are the statements of U.S. officials on the subject, which all have sounded excruciatingly lawyered. Asked before Congress in July whether there is an intention "at any time to release the Blind Sheikh," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded: "Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention."

If President Obama is re-elected and he uses his newfound flexibility to send the Blind Sheik Abdel Rahman to Egypt, it will indicate that no demonstration of anti-American sentiment in the Middle East can wake the administration from slumber. And we thought the sheik was blind!