It makes me wonder why any sane man would run for president in 2004, given what he might face. “Mr. President, New York has suffered an atomic attack.”
“Call the Security Council, and tell them – oh. Right. Is there still a UN?”
“It’s sideways in the river.”
“Hmm. Well. Is the League of Nations still answering the phone? I seem to remember they kept on a skeleton staff. Mostly janitorial. But we’ll have to make do.”
What then? The presidency is not the sort of job for which you volunteer unless you’re willing to do everything that’s necessary. If we lose a city (and what a mild, offhand term for such a horror) there isn’t going to be any debate about getting UN resolutions. At least I hope not. And what do you do then? Attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, hope you can flatten North Korea before they decide the game is up and it’s time to go first, oh, and incidentally the new missiles can hit LA – surprise! Do you pave Syria if they don’t roll over on day two? Damned if I know. I don’t have to know what to do. Not my job. But if you want the job, you have to be willing to open the tubes and order Slim Pickens to the cockpit. It’s always been that way, sure – yet these things have had an odd distant theoretical flavor predicated on an unpredictable escalation. That enemy would nuke us as a last resort, because that meant the end of everything – power, caviar, liquor, nice cars, good dentists, dames, those nice little cigarettes with the gold bands around the filters? The ones that burn evenly, and you can smoke a dozen in an hour without getting tongue fur? Heaven on earth.
Our present enemy will nuke us as soon as they can, because it means heaven, period.
I hate this; God I hate this. But I don’t have any longing for normalcy, as Noonan put it the other day, because normalcy was a delusion, a diaphanous curtain draped over the statue of Mars. Nor do I want a time out, a breather, an operational pause. I want to cut to the chase. I want Iran in the hands of its people and leaning to the West again, I want Lebanon independent of Syrian rule, I want Syria isolated and cowed, Arafat dead and buried in the land of his birth – or Paris, symbolically – and the Saudi Civil War done and over with pragmatists in power. I’d like this all tomorrow please.
Noon is fine, if it works for everyone else.
So I read this, and I sat back, and thought to myself.. if this fictional event does happen.. who do I want hearing those words? Kerry or Bush.
Hat Tip (once again): Neptunus Lex