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A Little Cold
April 24, 2004
By Pamela Troy

"Dick Cheney's view is that, in a way, it doesn't matter how long the aftermath takes. It's a little cold that what matters is the ultimate outcome."

—Bob Woodward, 60 Minutes Interview

Suddenly it all makes sense, doesn't it? All those people who've been dismissing the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the economy, who've been denouncing Bush and Cheney as incompetent and stupid, aren't being proven right by what's happening. They're being proven to be short-sighted. All those conservatives who've begun to express doubts and wring their hands aren't being "principled." They're being na´ve. They're not looking beyond the pain of the immediate aftermath and seeing the ultimate, highly desirable outcome.

Yes, what's happening in Iraq is unpleasant. We're getting all these pictures of the dead, hearing accounts of civilians and American soldiers being killed. But let's face it, war is unpleasant, and anyone who thought this wasn't going to require a difficult commitment to the long haul was being unrealistic. (We know, we know, that's not what we said last year going in. But c'mon folks, be honest. Would you have supported the war if we'd been too brutally frank about what it involved? Well? Would you?)

It's going to be tough, but if we just stick to our guns and don't get too upset about the body count, the ultimate outcome will be worth it. After a few years commitment the United States will have a solid presence in the Middle East and a lock on an abundant supply of Iraqi oil. And before all you arm-waving liberals jump up and start squealing about "blood for oil," no, we aren't lying when we say it's about spreading democracy. What do you think the greatest democracy in the world runs on? Solar power? World freedom depends on the greatest free-market nation having access to a dependable energy source. Would you rather our ability to function be dependent on a bunch of desert sheiks? Do you think they understand democracy the way we do?

Believe me, if we indulge in angst about immediate consequences, we'll never succeed. We didn't get into the White House by letting obstacles stand in our way, or by worrying about what people thought or said about us. Back in the 1980s, for instance, we discovered that the obstacle posed by minority voters could be easily handled by voter purges and strategically placed ballot security teams at heavily Democratic, minority polling places. Bad publicity? Sure. The papers and even some of the courts said all kinds of awful things about us. Fines? You bet. We paid 'em. But it was all worth it because the ultimate outcome was that our candidates got into office.

And the real vindication was the 2000 election. Whew, what a stink the Democrats made in the months following that November! And the N.A.A.C.P? Forget it! They even brought a lawsuit that Florida settled as fast as it could out of court. It was all noisy and ugly and you know what? It didn't mean a thing. The ultimate outcome is that in 2004, we're still in the White House.

Adopt this kind of farsightedness and there's no limit to what you can do. For instance, the tax cuts, the outsourcing of American jobs, the "jobless recovery" have all resulted in an unpleasant aftermath, that being the brouhaha from Americans who are having to scale back some of their more wild-eyed assumptions about their future and their children's future. We're just going to have to ignore all that whining from underachievers who think that if they work hard at some penny-ante job in a factory or a store they are somehow entitled to own a home, or send their kids to university, or get expensive medical care, or stop working at the age of 75 and loaf around all day.

The Bush administration needs to hunker down, stick to principle, and keep in mind that it's not like all those little people waving their pink slips can actually do anything about it. There may be some unrest down the road, an upsurge in violent crime, perhaps even a few riots, but do those folks control the media? Law enforcement? The courts? The software in our voting machines?

Nope.

So why should anyone living in a gated community with a well-trained and well-armed private security force worry?

Just stick to principle and don't waste time being squeamish. In a few years, we'll hear the delightfully hollow thud of the US government going bankrupt, and then we'll be able to look regretful, turn our pockets inside out and say to that unwashed crowd, "Sorry about those unemployment benefits, Medicaid and social security folks, but no can do! We just don't have the money for anything but law enforcement and defense." By that time, the expectations of America's labor force will be lowered to a more realistic level, and the whole shebang will drop neatly the laps of private enterprise. No more nonsense about unions, over-time, health benefits, or pensions! Like their less coddled brethren in the third world, American workers will have a better sense of perspective and be grateful just to have food on the table and a roof over their heads.

And if for some reason somebody is physically unable to work, or unable to find work, faith based programs, many of them run by our good friends in the religious right, will be there to offer a helping hand to the desperate. Along with religious consolation of course. Can we really expect evangelicals not to evangelize? Of course, the unemployed will be offered a choice. They won't be required to entrust their religious (or, God forbid, nonreligious) freedom to these faith-based programs. They could choose hunger and homelessness instead. It will be entirely up to them.

It's like our president said during his last press conference. "A free society is a society in which somebody is more likely to be able to make a living. A free society is a society in which someone is more likely to be able to raise their child in a comfortable environment, and see to it that that child gets an education."

If you've got a shot at a job, the possibility of hamburgers on your plate, and even the chance of a school where your kids can learn a good trade so they can maybe put hamburgers on their plates someday, what other freedom can you possibly want?

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