Now What?

Okay, so there’s one less asshole in the world. That’s good news on any day.

But look. If you want to get me dancing in the street and waving my flag, you’d have to tell me this meant America was done with Iraq, that all the troops would be coming home, that we’d be sending whatever obscene amount of money was needed to fix things to whoever we thought could do it without providing a convenient focus for anti-Western hatred.

You’d have to tell me this signalled the end of our side trip into Iraq, and now we’d be focusing full-time on the man who attacked us and who keeps sending us these video tapes like answering machine messages from hell, taunting the living and dishonoring the dead.

You’d have to tell me we were going to take this moment, this milestone, to really look at the things we were doing wrong in this War on Terror, and to begin to realize that we are not safe at home unless all of us are safe. You’d have to tell me we began to realize that the best way to protect our citizens is to reinforce the best parts of America while repairing what needs repairing. My country, right or wrong, the right to be defended and the wrong to be put right? Now there’s a campaign I could get behind.

You’d have to tell me we were going to make New York safe, instead of cutting their Homeland Security funds. You’d have to tell me we were going to have a full-on intervention in New Orleans to bring freedom and democracy and prosperity to those who are still living in halves of ruined houses, looking out the windows at cars on their lawns. You’d have to tell me we were going to focus on eradicating crushing poverty and have a constitutional amendment to repair what truly threatens us: greed, want, complacency, selfishness. You’d have to tell me we were going to take seriously everything that threatens America, within and without, and fight it just as hard as we fight wars based on lies, with just as little regard for the cost.

You’d have to tell me this was going to do something for us, for the world, other than give Fox News on-air orgasms. You’d have to tell me this was a moment we stepped back and said, let’s take this opportunity to think about how to become a better country, and move forward from there.

Most of all, you’d have to tell me this was the time, now that the immediate crisis is over and everybody’s coming home from Iraq, for the neo-con crooks who’ve been running this country’s foreign policy to take more time with their families. You’d have to tell me this was the time for us to get some grown-ups in charge, and start dealing intelligently with real threats to our security instead of inventing bogeymen whose crippled nations provide “good targets.” You’d have to tell me this is the time for Donald Rumsfeld, among others, to learn the metaphorical meaning of a long walk and a short pier.

Tell me all that, and I’ll strike the harp and join the chorus, agree that this is a seminal moment, mark the day on my calendar. Till then, it’s one less asshole in the world, and that’s nice, and that’s all.

A.