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Below the Beltway

Binding a Nation's Wounds

Hey, liberals. Here's a balm. A time balm

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, November 21, 2004; Page W14

We enter this holiday season a traumatized, polarized nation. As an alleged polarizer -- a member of the so-called "liberal" media elite -- I want to help in the important process of binding our wounds. Remember, people, we are all of us brothers and sisters, whether you happen to be one of those people who voted for Kerry, or one of those ignorant, bucktoothed, lunatic, Bible-thumping bumpkins who voted for Bush.

Just kidding, ignorant bumpkins! The truth is that we are not that far apart. This election was no slam-dunk. It was not exactly a choice between Abraham Lincoln and a chicken, if you know what I mean. This one was pure poultry. See? That is one area in which we can find common ground!

(Illustration by Eric Shansby)

Another is on the issue of Expectations. Polls have shown that each side in the presidential election feared that if its guy lost, the country would go to Hell in the proverbial handbasket. (And that the handbasket, which would have to be woven to roughly the size of North America, would be outsourced to India.) Well, relax. History has shown us that things seldom turn out as poorly as the losers fear. For example, when Mussolini was elected prime minister of Italy, those who voted against him feared he would become a ruthless, pompous tyrant, loot the treasury, get really fat and bring the country into a suicidal alliance with the darkest forces of mankind. Well, it turns out he stayed pretty trim, as can be seen by those photos of him hanging upside down in the street as people danced and sang.

Now, I know that liberals expect the worst. Liberals think that just because President Bush won convincingly, and Republicans collected an emboldened majority in both houses of Congress, America will shift to the right so dramatically that it will collide with Portugal. They think that we will begin invading small countries for frivolous reasons, such as that we want their sorghum. They think we will so inflame global hatreds that we will destabilize the world the way a baseball bat destabilizes a flamingo. They think we will become a corporate kleptocracy -- that big businesses will no longer even have to go through the formality of getting tax breaks because the federal treasury will simply mail them cash. That the portraits of the presidents on our money will be replaced by portraits of famous robber barons. That it will be illegal to be black. That Planned Parenthood clinics will be allowed to issue only chastity belts and clothes hangers. That the pledge of Allegiance will include the phrase ". . . under our Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of the Patriarchs, Master of the Apostles, Redeemer of Souls, Shepherd of the Only True Way, Vanquisher of Islam . . ." That, in terms of puritanical zeal, we will come to resemble 17th-century Salem, with ritual stoning of heretics or potty-mouths. That we will be forced to use words such as "thee" and "thine." That it will be illegal to have sex unless you are wearing pajamas.

Hang on, I have to go lie down a minute. Okay, I'm back. My point is that these things are silly and probably won't happen. At least not all of them. I know that our leaders are people of goodwill, who honestly want to do what they think is right -- the way, for example, that Alfred Nobel wanted to produce a safe and peaceful tool for construction and excavation. It was called dynamite.

My plea, therefore, as you and your family sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, is that you focus not on what divides us as a nation but on those things that unite us as a people. We are not Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, or intellectuals and dimwitted yee-haws. We are Americans, facing our future together. And it is a bright future. Very, very bright. Practically thermonuclear.

Hang on. I have to go lie down.

Gene Weingarten's email address is weingarten@washpost.com. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon at washingtonpost.com/liveonline.

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