Monday, October 11, 2004

Return to Normalcy?

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." --John Kerry

"Just this weekend, Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to - quote - nuisance' - end quote - and compared it to prostitution and illegal gambling. See, I couldn't disagree more. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying terrorists, and spreading freedom and liberty around the world." -- George W. Bush

Earlier today, Vice President Dick Cheney took John Kerry to task for comments published this weekend indicating that he hoped to see a day when terrorism would again be at the level of a national "nuisance." Cheney called "naive and dangerous."

Kerry's rather careless choice of words aside, it is remarkable the extent to which Dick Cheney, in this and other published comments, talks as if America can expect to be in a constant state of emergency and a perpetual state of war for the foreseeable future.

One has to wonder sometimes if the Vice President is setting the stage for a future promotion from Dick Cheney to Dick Tator.

But the siege mentality seems to be spreading quickly among Republicans. Rudy Giuliani said that the notion of "an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening." And the President himself assured a Colorado audience that his vision of the War on terror has America "on the offensive . . . spreading liberty and freedom around the world."

This line of rhetoric would not seem to me to serve Republican interests very well, and I hope to see the Democrats take them up on it quickly. The Republican vision for the War on Terror has the sort of endless quality of a moral crusade--much like a crusade against liquor, or fornication. While we might, like Rudy Giuliani, find it hard to accept that there will be murders and drunkenness and fornication in New York City in any perspective future, not to be able to overcome that difficulty in the final event would mark us as insane.

The same goes for terrorism: there will always be people out there who hate us and who are willing to die and kill to harm us. Can we imagine a world where there is absolutely no terrorism? When can we imagine America can rest in its task of spreading Democracy and Freedom? When does being on the offensive not going to mean being up to our necks in quagmires halfway around the world?

The short answer is that the Republican have no vision for America safe and at peace. All they have is a vision of crusading America. For them, the endless crusade began on September 11th and there is no end in sight. There is no end that they can even imagine.

Mr. Kerry ought to jump straight to the hustings and proclaim loudly that he, for one, can envision a day when Al Qaeda has been vanquished, when America returns to a watchful but prosperous normalcy, and if Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush cannot envisage such a future, they ought to step aside.