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The Pols Who Cried Wolf

AUSTIN, Texas - We have nothing to fear but fear itself, especially since fear is now being fomented and manipulated for political purposes by a bunch of shameless hacks. Who is trying to make you afraid and why? This Karl Rove tactic is getting quite threadbare, in fact, and so much so that it is getting dangerously close to comedy.

My favorite episode, of course, was the Miami terrorists, a fearsome horde of seven described by the FBI’s deputy director as “more aspirational than operational.” That means wannabes. An FBI informant posing as a member of Al Qaeda offered to supply the plotters with material for the jihad, so they asked for boots and uniforms. Every terrorist needs a uniform.

Of course, even a nincompoop can succeed occasionally—but the list of wannabes keeps growing. Seventeen people were arrested in Canada for intending to behead the prime minister. Has anyone in all of history ever cared that much about a Canadian prime minister? Canada’s national motto is “Now, let’s not get excited.”

Of the hundreds of prisoners, alleged terrorists all, who have been held at Guantanamo on the grounds that they were the worst of the worst, only 10 have ever been charged with anything. In the latest episode, shortly after announcement of a British-based plot to blow up airliners, Britain and the United States were airing their differences over when the perpetrators should have been arrested.

The administration has put itself in the position of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. If, God forbid, a serious terrorist conspiracy is uncovered, there will be a tendency to dismiss it in a backlash to these over-hyped “plots.”


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I personally have been sleeping more soundly at night knowing that Michael Chertoff is secretary of homeland security. Ever since Chertoff’s agency brought us the stunning news that there are more terrorist targets in Indiana than in New York or Washington, I’ve realized this guy could find a terrorist plot anywhere. Watch out for the Amish—they’ll run right over you with those buggies, and they all have pitchforks, too. I hear they’re connected to Al Qaeda through Saddam Hussein.

Should you be suffering a fear shortage despite the administration’s best efforts, consider the paralyzing news of the defeat of Joe Lieberman. According to none other than our very own Veep Dick Cheney, Lieberman’s defeat helps the terrorists. Yes! How can this be, you ask? Well, you know Joe Lieberman has been supporting Bush’s war in Iraq, and we are at war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein was allied with Al Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction, see? He wasn’t? He didn’t? Gee, maybe that’s why the Democrats were upset with Lieberman!

Lieberman’s unhappy fall in electoral battle touched off a volcano of drivel in the media. Some of it should be written off as the incurable Establishment tendency to defend its own. People who have known Joe Lieberman for 18 years are naturally predisposed in his favor—always happens. On the other hand, what a bunch of codswallop from people who should know better. They’re behaving as though no one had a right to challenge Lieberman, whereas given his record I can’t think of anyone who deserved challenge more.

The pusillanimous punditry announces that these fools in the Democratic Party may make the war in Iraq a major issue! Horrors! I hate to pull the old advantages-of-provincialism trick, but I do think the D.C. press corps and political establishment are painfully out of touch and need to get out into the country more. Indiana, anyone?

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins (August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007) was an American newspaper columnist, liberal political commentator, humorist and author. From Americans Who Tell the Truth: "To honor a journalist as a truth teller is implicitly to comment on the scarcity of courage and candor in a profession ostensibly dedicated to writing and speaking the truth. Molly Ivins is singular in her profession not only for her willingness to speak truth to power but for her use of humor to lampoon the self-seeking, the corrupt and the incompetent in positions of public trust. Her wit and insight place her squarely in the tradition of America’s great political humorists like Mark Twain."

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