Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who is at the wheel?

Imagine you're on a roadtrip with three other people. On the highway, you're sitting in the backseat of the car, reading a magazine. The guy in the front passenger seat is trying to find something good on the radio. The guy sitting next to you in the backseat has dozed off.

While engrossed in your magazine -- maybe a copy of The Realist or The National Daily Conservative Review -- the car you're riding in is involved in a collision: you don't see the details of the accident as they unfold, your senses are simply jarred by the crunch of the fibreglass sheathing the styrafoam bumper; the hood buckling; the awful sudden stop, the sound of breaking glass. And all you know is that you've dropped your magazine, your collarbone is sore where the seatbelt locked against you; there's a cloud of powder from the exploded airbags floating in the car.

Miraculously, no one in your car is hurt.

For the sake of this analogy, let's jump ahead of all the insurance rigermarole, police, and all those inconveniences, to the resumption of your roadtrip: You've got a new rental car and you and your group are ready to hit the highway again. . .

. . . but the guy who was driving when the accident occurred refuses to relinquish the car keys. He insists on continuing to drive.

Before the roadtrip began, you and your car-mates drew straws and the guy who was driving when the accident occurred had been the winner and asserts that this gives him the right to continue.

"But you got us in that accident," one of the other guys says, "so that nullifies you winning the straw-draw."

"Yeah," another guy says, "Whether it was your fault or not, I don't trust you at the wheel."

To which the driver responds, "It's because I was driving when the accident happened that I should continue driving. Had one of you been at the wheel, the accident would have been much worse!"

And here is where we are at with American politics during the long, long run-up to the 2008 presidential election.

We have former NYC mayer, Rudy Giulliani, claiming that because he was at the helm of New York when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, that he is somehow more qualified to protect the country than any other candidate. This is the same specious logic that George W. Bush used for the 2004 election. It made no sense then, it makes no sense now, and yet these candidates are not only putting forth this ridiculous argument, some people actually agree with it.

There is no question that America, and the world in general, is much less safe since George W. Bush took hold of the White House in 2000. His wrong-headed war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, America's consistent flouting of international law, America's lust for torture, are the greatest recruitment tools any enemy of America could hope for to help with rounding up fresh crazies. On a more concrete level, having people in power who stretch the country's military to (and beyond) its breaking point, spread painfully, dangerously thin around the world -- so much so that when America needs its own resources (think: Hurricane Katrina), those resources are missing or sorely lacking -- that strengthens and emboldens "Das Enemy." Pursuing foreign policy goals that make the rest of the free world think the U.S. is crazy is dangerous for America.

I heard Giulliani on the Sean Inanity radio program the other afternoon slinging these un-truisms like an Alabama short-order cook slings hash. And Inanity ate it up, of course.

No, keeping the guy at the wheel who was driving when you crashed in the first place is a bad idea. Talk is cheap, but it's cheap talk that leads to lost lives. Ask those 700,000 dead Iraqi civilians about that.

Oh, right, you can't . . . because they're dead.

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