Democratic Underground  

An Open Letter to Tom Daschle
March 11, 2002
By Sheila Samples

Dear Tom,

Can we talk? I know you're feeling kinda bruised because of the Republican jihad that is being openly launched against you. And, it sure doesn't help matters when your Democratic teammates dissolve into the safety of the shadows. You just know they gotta be thinking, "Better Tom than me..."

New York Observer writer Joe Conason says your adversaries compare you with "Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein," are running mean-spirited ads against you in your home district, and accuse you of "giving aid and comfort" to the nation's enemies. Wow--if that's an example of the reigning dignity and honor that's been returned to D.C., I hope they don't try to trot out integrity...What a trifecta that would be!

Like a lot of us out here, Tom, Conason notices that your teammates stand mute while "authoritarian propaganda emanates from Republican fax machines and spreads across the country." Conason says your team has allowed you--an Air Force veteran and bioterror target-- "to be taunted like a traitor by Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and other tough-talkers, all of whom avoided military service as if it were anthrax..."

So? Nobody said it would be easy. The time for licking your wounds is over, Tom. It's time to get back in the game. It is a game, you know--a deadly political football game.

Do I need to remind you that scoring occurs in the end zone, Tom? In case you've forgotten, a ball carried into the end zone--or caught there--counts for points. If this confuses you, remember that a ball kicked from the field that passes between the goal-post uprights and over the crossbar also counts for points...Moving the ball halfway downfield and then politely handing it to the other team without a fight? No points, Tom, no points.

We know since 1978 when the rules were changed to favor the offense, the game isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be. Today's game is a "quarterback's showcase," where his receiver may be "chucked" in no more than a boyish impulse within five yards of the line of scrimmage--and beyond that--must be given all the protection due a Rembrandt original...Sucks, doesn't it, Tom, especially since we seem to always be on defense...

I submit that from now on, we not only play the game of our lives, but we play by the "Heisman Rules." You remember John Heisman, don't you, Tom? He's the guy in whose dubious honor the coveted annual trophy is given to the nation's outstanding college player. In Heisman ball, a receiver could be bumped by a defensive lineman, smashed by a linebacker, slammed by a cornerback and clouted by the safety. Let's grab 'em by their eyeballs and hurl them out of the park, Tom. Let's play their kind of ball...

One way we can do it is to play solid defense against the onslaught the corporate media will unleash to help the Republican offense break through our line and get District Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to the federal appeals court, or--into the end zone. We need to be united, especially since their quarterback, Orrin Hatch, has called a time-out to whine that the zebras should penalize us for not letting his guy through the line to score.

And what a guy he is, Tom! Really offensive, if you get my drift. I noticed their coach, George W. Bush, trotted Pickering out for a front-office glad-hander, trying to smooth over criticism from women's groups, civil rights groups and liberal groups, and ignoring Pickering's efforts to reduce the sentence of a man convicted of burning a cross on an interracial couple's lawn, as well as his actions on abortion and voting rights as a state senator and federal judge.

Trust me -- Heisman knew the game, Tom. If their guy gets through our line, we must remember what Heisman taught us about tackling, because he had this defensive play honed to a fine art...

"Clasp your hands around the runner's legs just above the knees and lift sharply with a quick, snappy jerk," Heisman said. "Pull his legs out to the same side your head is on, raise them high in the air, and behold! His head falls down to the other side and, in this position, you can ram his head into the ground as easily as you could thrust a fence post into its newly dug hole..." Go team!

It's pretty well taken for granted in political football that the team will win who comes in, backs up, goes deep, stays tight, and is fast, big, mean, and smart. So--either get "up" for this game, Tom, or grab a piece of the bench. We need the "A" team on the field. Because Heisman ball is seek and and destroy...

Oh, and one other thing before you take the field, Tom. If we're lucky enough to play offense before this game is over -- don't fumble the ball. As Heisman said, "You might better have died when you were a little boy."

We're depending on you, Tom. All of us. We the people. Now get out there and make us proud!

Sheila Samples is a freelance writer and former Public Information Officer for Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

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