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So 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 be Ridge's.

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 other.

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 to ask?"

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 a point.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer

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