|Itís been almost a year since war was declared,
and the United States is still looking for its first victory. Terrorism
has claimed the lives of hundreds around the world, and Americans cringe
every day as our own media creates scenarios for the enemy to explore.
We are vulnerable everywhere, weíre told. Our water supply, our tunnels
and bridges, the cities and towns we live in, our schools and stadia.
The other day my daughter asked me what I thought
about her moving to upstate New York, outside of Rochester. Housing up
there was extremely reasonable, she said, and they would be closer to
her husbandís family.
I thought about my two grandsons. Theyíre only
three and two, but I was already planning their first Mets game. And a
trip to the Guggenheim. The little guys are train crazy, too; waitíll I
take them on Midtown Direct, and a movie at the Ziegfeld. Then I
thought, which one of those events could end up on a terrorist hit list?
The unfortunate answer is, any of them. All of them. At any moment. Is
my family going to have to sift through rubble to find our bits and
pieces? Boondocks, NY doesnít look so bad
America is at war. It sure doesnít feel like it,
sucking on a brain freeze, watching Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in a
crowded, air conditioned dodeca-plex. It sure doesnít look like it on
the road, watching the Beemers and Benzes whiz by, headed for the
Hamptons. And it certainly hasnít sunk in down in Washington, where
political strategy is now centered on defending or attacking the
presidency, in preparation for the next election. Afghanistan has faded
to page three, and the front page of the New York Times these
days is devoted either to uncovering our latest corporate thief or
outlining battle plans for an Iraqi invasion. Are we going straight for
Baghdad, or are we going to land on the beaches? Can you imagine a 1944,
late May headline: U.S.-Britain plan Normandy Invasion?
America is at war, and we are sitting ducks for
the next attack. This is a raw deal for Democrats because, without the
war, we were primed to go one up on the GOP in the ďLetís Shame the
PresidentĒ sweepstakes. We shamed Nixon, they shamed Clinton, and we
were all hep to clock the big ďW.Ē And it was going to be easy. As
tricky as Dick was, as slick as Willy had been, Wís transgressions are
sticking to him like tar and feathers, and by the time 2004 rolled
around, if we didnít have this war, the only people who would vote
Republican would be millionaires, and the last time I looked, we still
But America is at war. We canít afford politics as
usual. In World War II the nation came together, put politics aside, and
elected the same guy as President for four terms. OK, we were lucky; he
happened to be born to be great. You remember that old Shakespeare
quote, ďSome are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have
greatness thrust upon them?Ē Well, ďWĒ and the Republicans have rolled a
bunch of sevens, and greatness has now been thrust upon them.
Democrats have got to suck it up and get behind
this guy. Weíve got to book a suite at the Washington Terrace and sit
nose to nose with the GOP bigs and say something like, OK, weíre going
to work together on this war. We think your guy has spent a little too
much time with the tumbleweeds, and the Republican way of doing business
just may put some white men behind bars for a change, but we canít waste
time doing the Watergate-Pentagon Papers-Whitewater-Ken Starr thing.
People are dying, and a bunch of smart bombs aimed at caves in the Kunar
Mountains isnít going to cut it.
So weíre going to give you eight years. Weíre
going to back off partisan politics, and weíre all going to work
together, hard. Yea, we know, weíre going to make your guy the second
coming of FDR, and itís going to sting a little when he starts getting
ratings up there with Washington and Jefferson, but itís either that or
stand by and watch the Space Needle fall down, or a couple of hundred
kids come staggering out of a schoolhouse with poison in their lungs.
So, what do you want? A dozen agencies shoehorned
into Homeland Security? Airports and train stations lined with troops
carrying automatic weapons? A new look at profiling? Fine, but LETíS DO
IT! Letís stop talking and whining about the money and letís spend it;
letís stop worrying about what France or Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Japan
is going to think, and letís start acting like the most powerful nation
on Earth that got blindsided on 9/11. And when 2004 rolls around, weíll
do you a favor and nominate Al Gore again.
Eight years. Thatís about what it took to bury the
Nazis and the Japanese. If we work together, it should be more than
enough to eradicate terrorism. And then we can get back to the fun part
of politics. But right now, America is at war. We need to be strong, and
non-partisan, and aggressive. And when the American flag, whether itís
attached to a Toyota or a tank, comes careening around some desolate
corner of the world, folks should shutter their windows and pray to God
itís not coming for them.
Iím tired of being afraid of the Nightly News. Iím
sick to death of political correctness. Iím getting old; I need to get
back to my dream of sitting in a third-base box, rooting the Mets home
with my grandsons.
August 1, 2002