The War of the Hacks

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's amazing what a few days away from this politics-obsessed town can do for one's perspective. Seen from afar, the congressional debate over the war and terrorism comes across as a Washington event designed to show that Democrats are wimps on national security and to boost Republicans as true defenders of the homeland. Or Republicans are portrayed as clueless warmongers hell-bent on sending other people's sons and daughters into battle.

In reality, the struggle on Capitol Hill is not about terrorism. It's about gaining and holding power in the fall election. And it is a disgusting sight to behold.

Only five years after a horrifying new reality crashed into America, the political parties have lost sight of the nation's interests. Now it's all about getting elected.

So what if we are doing battle with an enemy that operates without a government behind its name? So what if it's the kind of enemy that boards an airplane containing schoolchildren and their teachers, mothers holding toddlers by the hand and other innocent civilians minding their own business? So what if it sets out to kill because the intended victims have the bad grace to live in America?

Unless I'm mistaken, the Sept. 11 hijackers didn't ask the doomed passengers if they were Democrats or Republicans. They didn't care one bit if the people strapped in their seats for takeoff were liberals, conservatives or neocons.

They made no politically correct announcements allowing women, children and people of color to leave the aircraft before the flight attendants closed the doors.

The fanatics who took the innocent to their deaths set their eyes on those three 11-year-old D.C. public school students, Rodney Dickens, Bernard Brown and Asia Cottom, and on 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg and 8-year-old Zoe Falkenberg, as they boarded American Airlines Flight 77 at Dulles.

They couldn't have missed seeing 3-year-old David Brandhorst, 2-year-old Christine Hanson and 4-year-old Juliana Valentine McCourt, who boarded United Airlines Flight 175 with their families in Boston. The enemy that day couldn't have cared less about the innocent passengers on the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the ground in Pennsylvania.

Self-regarding members of Congress, intent on keeping their jobs, have forgotten all about enemies who are so convinced of America's evil and their own righteousness that they can justify making everything in this country -- its national treasures and its people -- targets for destruction.

Listen closely to the huffing and puffing on Capitol Hill. It's all about criticizing each other on the war. They work themselves into a lather arguing about which party can best represent Americans in the hallowed halls of Washington. Watch as they strut and brag about how their party is, because of a surfeit of patriotic zeal, best able to hold terrorist-harboring countries accountable.

Each party treats the other like a malignancy on the body politic when the real cancer is the terrorists whose malignant objective is to kill and maim, to show us how vulnerable we are, to instill fear and to bring this country to its knees.

So, while members of Congress slip, slide, peep and hide in their quest for cheap political advantage, somewhere, somehow, a group not unlike those who got to us five years ago is plotting against crowded suburban shopping malls, downtown cultural centers, subway stations, football stadiums and sources of drinking water.


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