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United We Stand? I Donít Think So

 by Jack Krug
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 outnumbered them.

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



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