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Whatever Happened to the War?
January 29, 2002
by birdman

Anybody seen the war lately? I could have sworn it was around here somewhere.

We endlessly heard the pundits tell us how everything had changed in the days since September 11. America, they said, would never be the same again. The pampered, shallow lives that we enjoyed just last summer were over and no one knew when they would return if ever. From that day on there would be war and an open-ended struggle that was going to last years and involve every American.

For the first few weeks of the war the networks bombarded us with news of bombing campaigns and the progress of our supposed allies as they captured the formerly Taliban controlled areas. But the interest always seemed contingent upon achieving a tangible goal - the capture or death of Osama Bin Laden (and only Bin Laden seems to inspire the public - I'm sorry but Mullah Omar just doesn't cut it, I mean he's got nowhere near the star power of OBL - we have enough crooked dictatorial clerics of our own). Now that it seems that OBL has gotten away the punditocracy has little to talk about. Within the past month the conflict has dropped off everybody's radar screen. Does anybody give a damn about the transitional government taking over in Kabul?

Right now the only thing the media can seem to talk about war-wise is the doofus kid from Marin County who stumbled into it while trying to find himself. We learned about his itinerary, his new haircut and even met his parents. It's like the media needs an American face to put on the war even if it's associated with the other side.

The war, quite frankly, has been a ratings bust. And the lack of interest has turned the public and media attention elsewhere.

The football playoffs are getting more attention than the war.

Michael Jordan is getting more attention than the war.

A belly-up energy company is getting more attention than the war.

A movie about a wizard and a movie about hobbits both got more attention than the war.

I mean the freaking Golden Globe awards got more attention than the war!!! You got that? The Golden Globes - one of the great "Who Cares" events of this or any year got more media attention than the goddamn war. The morning after the GG's there were news stories about the Australians who won awards and film clips of the inevitable cleavage parade that always precedes such events but scant mention of the war.

Chandra and Gary are even sneaking back into the news. Isn't this where we came in?

The Winter Olympics are starting soon. Unless Bin Laden turns up as a competitor in the luge I have a feeling that the great War on Terror is going to be pushed even further from the public consciousness. In reality very little has changed since September 11 and with each passing week the effects of that horrible event fade further into the background of American life. The sympathy for the survivors of the attack has even begun to fade as many of them have seemed rather greedy in their attitude toward the federal compensation they will receive. By the way is it just me or does anybody else wish that Lisa Beamer would get the hell off the TV screen and go back to living her life as quietly as possible. I mean we're all sorry about her husband but was it entirely necessary to send pictures of her new baby to the Today show within minutes of the birth and do the Larry King Show a couple of days later? Fifteen minutes, Lisa. Enough already!

I mean wasn't this supposed to be the defining moment of a couple of generations? Wasn't this supposed to show us what the X-ers and the Y-ers and maybe even the Boomers were really made of? Wasn't this their rendezvous with destiny? If so it looks like they've decided to pass. Has anybody seen any lines outside the recruiting office? It sure looks like kids raised on MTV and the internet have no interest in battling any gun-toting evildoers.

Most of the flags that adorned houses and cars were quietly put away some time ago. The red, white and blue lapel ribbons are gone. The religious revival that the attacks were supposed to generate was one of the biggest busts. There was a brief spike in church attendance but it was only a couple of weeks before things returned to normal. The average American is as involved in this war as they are in the "war on drugs."

So, sadly, September 11 was in reality the day that really didn't change all that much after all. Right now people just seem more concerned about Super Bowl Sunday.

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