The WMAL radio sports talk show was briefly interrupted with the news: The U.S. had bombed Libya. "Reports are that all American fighter planes have returned home safely which eventually turned out to be untrue . . . I know that makes us all happy," said Ken Beatrice. "But if you're going to talk about defense," he continued, "you got to talk about linebackers . . . . "
During a news break on the Donnie Simpson show the next day, a WKYS radio reporter gave listeners a telephone number to call on the question: Should we have bombed Libya? But Simpson had resumed his broadcast with a song by George Clinton that probably raised a more important question in the minds of his rock-and-rollers, "Do Fries Go With That Shake?"
While a lot of people are feeling good about flexing U.S. military muscle, something tells me that bombing Libya was not all it was cracked up to be.
So we send Air Force and Navy fighter-bombers to dump high explosives or, in other words, all of that money you just sent to the IRS, on the home of a man who lives in a tent in the desert.
And this is supposed to make us feel safer? Opinion polls are already showing that "the majority" of Americans support the bombing and think we are more secure now. But this I do not believe. And neither do others I have interviewed.
According to media experts, news broadcasts and reports always have different effects on different people, with the "elites," or the "attentive public," having a more sophisticated reaction to events than, say, rank-and-file "masses" -- meaning sports fans and rock-and-rollers.
But my poll says the masses (at least those members I know here in the District) have proved rather sophisticated.
Listen to one Mideast expert on a recent talk show: "I think we should have bombed them back in l982, showed Qaddafi a thing or two. My only problem with the strike is that we didn't hit them hard enough. We should have demolished them."
Now listen to a mother of two, one of them a grown man, who lives in Southeast Washington: "I had to call my oldest this morning and tell him that I loved him," she said. "Just in case the world ends tomorrow."
Listen to Ronald Reagan: "Today, we have done what we had to do. If necessary, we shall do it again."
Now listen to an auto mechanic in Northwest Washington: "When I was a boy, there was this guy in the neighborhood who liked to throw his weight around. His idea of making a deal was saying something like, 'I'll give you a dime for two quarters.' If you didn't go along, he'd beat you up. One day we all got together and beat up on him.
"Now the problem is if Qaddafi's boys come over here, they won't be able to touch 'the bully.' It's my butt that's vulnerable."
A key factor in the bombing of Libya was the so-called intelligence, the Libyan cables that were intercepted and decoded, revealing that Qaddafi's agents were responsible for bombing the discoteque in Berlin.
Many didn't buy it.
"They were just using that as a pretext for doing what they always wanted to do," said a hot dog stand operator in downtown Washington. "Remember Grenada? If they don't have an excuse, they have been known to fabricate one."
Regardless of the different viewpoints, one fact remains irrefutable: bombing Libya has not made anybody feel safer. It will almost certainly increase, not decrease, terrorist activities. As Martin Luther King Jr. noted years ago, "Violence begets violence."
The whole affair, though, does offer an answer to George Clinton's question as to whether fries go with that shake. The answer is no. From now on, all we're going to get around here are the shakes.