Man Without Qualities

Thursday, February 05, 2004

More Winning Through Word Magic

One of the more curious arguments now being circulated by some Democrats and media representatives is that President Bush's approach to the war on terror has failed because people don't "feel safer" now. A typical formulation of this argument proceeds along the lines of "Do you feel safer now? With Orange Alerts and Ricin discovered in the Capitol?"

On September 10, 2001 almost everyone "felt" safer than they do now simply because they were unaware of the horrible, imminent danger the country was in. There was no Red Alert on September 10 to disturb the good feelings - but there should have been. If Ricin had been received at the Capitol on September 10 as an envelope with funny white powder in it, some aide probably would have tasted it to determine what it was - exactly because the aide "felt" safer than he or she does now. That "feeling" of safety is a big reason people reacted too slowly - and some died - in the 2001 mailed-anthrax incident.

Here's a little thought experiment for those flirting with the Democratic argument to try out for themselves: Imagine yourself in a car that hits an icy patch and is careening in reduced control. Do you think you would "feel" safer if you just closed your eyes and waited for the problem to pass? Of course not.

Often, being more aware of a risk makes us "feel" safer in the only meaningful sense of that term. That's why such things as Orange Alerts and evidence of Capitol Hill vigilance do make us "feel" more secure. Most people know that - and if the Democrats keep pushing this argument it will almost certainly work to their serious disadvantage. Indeed, its handling of the war on terror is already an especially strong card for the Administration.

Democratic arguments to the contrary are transparent word magic. The arguments sink of their own weight even before their proponents are required to explain exactly what they would do to keep the Orange Alerts and Ricin stories from happening - other than by just terminating the expensive, disturbing vigilance efforts so we can all be happy, doomed, Democrat-led idiots.

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