Much For Tom Ridge
May 30, 2002
By Sheila Samples
Joshua Micah Marshall, in a recent "Talking Points Memo,"
said, "If there was no such thing as a Director of Homeland
Security, someone would have to invent one..."
Just the same, it must be embarrassing to be Tom Ridge today.
A far cry from the obvious puffed-up pride when his best friend
- the most powerful man in the world - who's not only the
Great Hoo-bah, but the "Great Hee-Haw," announced to we the
people that Ridge is the new "homeland" babysitter! Jeez,
what a gig!
"He da man," Bush said, pointing to Ridge standing tall up
there in the middle of the administration's "Big Guys Plus
One Gal" (BGPOG). In our war against the evildoers, our "smoke
'em out, git 'em on the run, bring 'em to justice" leader
promised that his administration would speak with one voice
about the security of our homeland - and that voice would
Tom Ridge, Bush assured us, is a "good" man whose heart and
soul have been as meticuously inspected as those of Russia's
Vladimir Putin. And, I don't mind telling you that it was
a relief to know we could trust Ridge to alert us when 'merica
is threatened - to tell us when we need to be afraid, as opposed
to when we need to be very, very afraid.
Although Ridge's prim, tiny little bow of a mouth barely
moved upon hearing such praise, you just had to know he was
grinning from ear to ear. Already, visions of a new line of
clothing for Homeland troops danced in his head. He tightly
clutched his new box of giant crayons in one hand, while waving
sheets of giant posterboard at the cheering crowd with the
But then, all too soon, the cameras went dead. Life within
the Bush administration went back to normal. The Office of
Homeland Security quickly became a repository for secrets
and unaccounted-for millions of tax-payer dollars, its director
obviously too busy chasing rainbows to talk to Congress or
to we the people.
They might have pulled it off, but it became increasingly
apparent that far too many evildoers were staggering around
within our own intelligence (sic) system. FBI memos outlining
incompetence - or worse - bobbed to the surface from Minneapolis
to Phoenix. People began muttering; began asking obvious questions
that were obviously none of their business - questions like,
"What did he know, and when did he know it?"
The media - a proud, one-trick administration pony - trotted
into the mix. They quickly erected platforms from which the
administration's BGPOG spun like dervishes to divert attention
from their pre-9/11 foul-ups and inactivity.
In an incredible display of "Back Off, Assholes" rhetoric,
our esteemed vice president hit the Sunday morning talk fests,
accusing Democrats of - at a minimum - war crimes for daring
to question a war president in a time of endless war.
Cheney then sent a message to we the people - YOU'RE DOOMED,
AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! Cheney assured us
another terrorist attack is inevitable - it could be tomorrow,
or maybe next year, but probably within the next three years.
FBI Director Robert Mueller announced it's just a matter of
time until Muslim teenagers and pre-nubs prance all across
the Homeland, blowing themselves to bits for the sheer jihad
fun of it.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said something too. I think
it was about nuclear attacks and probable holocaust, but he
was giggling so wildly that I didn't catch his point. Given
his daily "good ol' boy" performance with the media, it probably
wasn't all that important anyway.
Where is Tom Da-Man Ridge? Instead of that one clear voice
of a circus ringmaster directing our attention to the progression
of orderly, orchestrated action, we are beset by the raucous
midway feeding frenzy of carney barkers. Each one vying for
our attention. Each one screaming, "Hey - Rube! Terror Alert!
Terror Alert! Dive! Dive! Dive!"
I have searched high and low for Tom Ridge, and he is nowhere
to be found. Although I cannot confirm it, I am forced to
believe that the speechless Ridge is being held hostage in
terror's "Yellow Zone." Maybe that's why nobody in the media
has bothered to ask him for his own "scare the bejeezus out
of the citizenry" quote.
In his Memo, Marshall suggested that the administration may
be intentionally bumping up the terror volume to brush back
demands for an investigation into what, if anything, went
wrong prior to 9-11. Marshall said, "...I mean, if the White
House is going to shamelessly play with our emotions for political
gain, can't they at least speak with one voice and exercise
a little more message discipline? I mean, is that too much
Well, yes, it seems to be a bit much to ask of this zany
BGPOG gang. However, those few of us out here who are still
able to think at all probably think that Josh Marshall has
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer