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The Poet's Eye--Beware! Beware! (first draft)

Posted to Poetry and Politics

Beware! Beware!

Homeland Insecurity Chief Tom Ridge took the stage at last Thursday's news conference to make the conjecture that terrorists were planning an attack designed to "disrupt our democratic process," suggesting an assault aimed at the national political conventions or the elections in November. The reason I call it a conjecture is because he supported it by saying, "We lack precise knowledge about time, place and method of attack." In other words, We know you're out there, with your flashing eyes and your floating hair. He doesn't know where and he doesn't care. He just wants you to close your eyes with holy dread.

Because the bombings in Madrid on 3/11 (191 dead) are widely credited as being a significant factor in the election defeat of the ruling party in Spain, it is not unreasonable to assume that the same tactic might be used to influence our upcoming national election. The trouble with this theory is that no one can say, given the event of an attack, who would benefit politically and who would suffer.

It could be said that on 9/11 Osama bin Laden handed George Bush the biggest political present this side of the Reichstag Fire. Bush reciprocated by invading Iraq which was probably the biggest political gift Mr. bin Laden has ever received. I'm sure it made it much easier for him to recruit more potential human guided missiles. You always love the thing you hate.

Pretend that you are a sinister radical terrorist named Yomama bin Bad'un. You are drunk on the milk of paradise. How would you vote in the American presidential election? That depends on your motives.

If you want the maximum amount of unrest in the Mid-East because it serves to help spread your message that America is evil, then Bush would be your first choice. If you simply wanted the US military out of the Arab world, then your vote would probably go to Kerry.

But if you are Yomama bin Bad'un, you don't give a good AllahDamn who is president because whoever he is, he's going to be your enemy.

Ok, let's say that Yomama figures that if Bush is elected, then at least he and his radical ilk will have a blundering, diplomatically ham-handed tyrant against which to rally the faithful. So he goes for Bush. Now the question arises, onto which convention floor does the suicide bomber stroll with his Brooks Brother's suit stuffed with plastique? The Republicrats or the Demicons? Boston or New York? He probably wouldn't be able to get close enough at either convention to take out the candidates (who are probably using body doubles anyway) but I'm sure he could make a fair mess of the Alaska and Alabama delegations, maybe get Ted Kennedy or John McCain. But who could tell which way the election would spin as a result of such an attack?

Take another scenario. Suppose they bombed a few subway trains in New York and a couple in Boston a week before the election. Who would enjoy the benefits of this at the polls? We don't know and neither does Yomama.

Suppose one or more of Yomama's boys thwarted our obsessive and anal airport security system and hijacked an airliner and flew it into one of the reactors at Three Mile Island. What would that do to the outcome of the election? Would the electorate refuse to vote for an incumbent who has made his presidential career based on security, after security fails? Or would they rally behind der leader in a time of disaster? Or would they take a new direction instead? Who knows? At least the pollsters could factor out the voters in Pennsylvania and parts of the liberal North East who would be suffering from radiation sickness.

Let's say Yomama is a savvy strategist and he wants Bush to be elected. I am a political/terrorism consultant. What I tell him is this: "Hit the convention in New York. Just drop one little hand grenade in a trashcan in the men's room at Madison Square Garden. Even if you only do minor damage, it will throw the sympathy vote to the Republicans and bim-budda-bam-badda-boom, you've got another four years facing an adversary who has lost the sympathy of the world community, and is destined to make colosal blunders because he is stupid. It's a sweet deal."

But who knows, maybe Yomama wants Kerry to be president. The Poet's Eye can see possible reasons for that too. Yomama could imagine that at least Kerry wasn't owned by a bunch of corporate pirates who were raping his part of the world for its resources. (After all, the Mid-East doesn't sit on the world's largest reserves of ketchup.) He might suspect that Kerry would be better able to broker the deal between Isreal and Palestine which is at the root of much of the strife in that region. He perhaps imagines that Kerry has fewer dreams of American world dominion.

So, if Yomama wants Kerry to be elected, he should hit the convention in Boston with his jihad of dervishes. It makes a certian kind of poetic sense. You always kill the thing you love.

The Poet's Eye doesn't see a way to determine what the outcome of possible terrorist attacks before the election would be. The priciple to remember is that you always love the thing you hate.


Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,                                                 
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

by Oscar Wilde
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan