GADFLY: Who You Gonna Call? 

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Imagine this: a snake crawls into your house in the middle of the night and bites your child, injuring her seriously. What do you do about it (the snake, that is)? You call a snake exterminator, right? He tells you he's going to get the snake, “dead or alive,” and as he goes into your basement in pursuit of the snake, you even hear him taunting the snake with the words, “bring it on.” You pay him a lot of money, and you feel good about the prospect that he'll eliminate the problem. Then, a month later, the snake is back, but this time he bites one of your friends' children. Your confidence in the exterminator is shaken (wouldn't it be?), and you even think about calling a different snake expert, but you call the same one (after all, he's told you he's a man of faith), and he charges you more money to go after the snake again (there's no money-back guarantee with snakes, he tells you). A month later, guess what---that's right, the snake shows up in your kitchen, and scares the holy you-know-what out of you.

Now the question is, do you still feel the exterminator is worthy of your confidence, and second, are you going to trust him to go after the snake the third time, having already violated your belief in the old “fool me once, fool me twice” bromide. The answer to both questions should be obvious. Not only are you going to feel like the exterminator was incompetent, you might even feel like he bamboozled you. In any event, you're certainly not going to make the mistake of relying on him again. You might even sue him for snake malpractice, or try to get his exterminators' license revoked.

And yet, when the snake is named Osama bin Laden, and the exterminator is named George Bush, for some stupefying reason I have yet to fathom, our elected snake buster still inspires public confidence in his ability to accomplish the mission. Even though this particular snake has only struck in our house once, he's struck our friends, we know he's capable of striking us again, and based on his latest media performance, we know he's planning on it. And yet, after more than four years, and many billions of dollars fighting a war on a tactic for which bin Laden is, literally, the poster child, polls continue to show that Americans trust Bush on issues of national security. Remember, this is the same President who acknowledged, a year after 9/11 (i.e., in the  “post-9/11 world”) that he was not all that concerned about bin Laden or his whereabouts.

The Republicans are so confident in their strength on this issue, they've even trotted out typhoid Karl,” to speak to his party's faithful about hammering on this issue in the coming election campaign. Astonishingly, the conventional wisdom is that if there were to be another terrorist attack in this country, it would end up benefiting this administration in opinion polls, and Republicans at the election polls, something “Bush's Brain” is relying on. This in spite of this administration's demonstrated incompetence, on any objective basis (wouldn't bin Laden's nose-thumbing audio tape be evidence of that?), when it comes to effectiveness in its “war on terror.” It is beyond challenge at this point that our President's misbegotten policies in his war have actually resulted in the proliferation of terrorists and of their activities. The war in Iraq has increased the number of terrorists, and has served as a training/recruiting ground for terrorists, worldwide. And most tellingly, available studies show that the incidence of terrorism has dramatically increased, 51% in just the last year, and a whopping 250% during the five years of our current commandant in the “war on terror.” Heckuva job, Georgie.          

And where are the Democrats, the party of the only true, effective war presidents of this century (e.g., Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman)? AWOL. Mostly running and hiding, afraid of their shadows, or worse, trying to out-Republican the Republicans.

My contempt for the intelligence of the American public (shared with H.L. Mencken) is well documented in some of my earlier pieces. But how stupid do you have to be to believe that a man who's demonstrably incapable of prosecuting a successful campaign to bring down (“dead or alive”) our avowed “Public Enemy Number One,” is the man for the job, or worse, that even if we're attacked again, he's still deserves to be considered our protector. How many more times do we really need to be fooled?

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