WHILE NEW YORK YANKEE FANS cheered, whooped, and hollered, millions upon millions of Americans watched with pride as our President strode out to the mound at Yankee Stadium, wound up, and threw a perfect pitch to start the third game of the 2001 World Series. He never faltered, he never gave any sign of apprehension. He walked out in the middle of a huge stadium and did his job.
Although his job description has not changed in the past two months, America’s assessment of his ability to do that job has dramatically changed since September 11. Even the most liberal of the liberals, Rosie O’Donnell, acknowledged that Bush was now her man.
All Americans should take a cue from George Walker Bush’s action at Yankee Stadium. Although he is surrounded by Secret Service agents, rides in bulletproof limousines, and has at his disposal the greatest security force in the world, he knows that he is the number one target of any terrorist. Yet he embodies the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words from his first Inaugural address:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
It may be necessary to ensure that Capitol Hill office buildings are decontaminated and that employees do not contact any form of anthrax, but closing down the Congress does not convert retreat into advance. On the other side of town the union for the postal employees is suing the federal government for environmentally unsafe workplaces as if the federal government actually placed the anthrax in the mail.
Then the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, go on television to hype the latest threat from unknown terrorists to even more obscure targets. The final straw is California Governor Grey Davis, who is best known for erroneously hyping electricity blackouts this past summer, announces terrorist threats against four major California bridges.
It certainly appears that terrorist threats have everyone chasing their proverbial tails in hopes of not being caught flat-footed again. At Los Angeles Airport we stopped to eat at a Chili’s. The hostess told us to read the notice on the menu, which stated that according to FAA requirements they were no longer serving a list of 12 menu items – 50 percent of the menu. The FAA has now banned airport restaurants from having knives in their kitchens. The items they no longer serve require chicken, mushrooms, and even sandwiches to be sliced. The waitress reported they take tomatoes off premises, have them sliced, and bring them back to serve on hamburgers. They only use plastic utensils when the meal is served.
It is time to understand that if we as a nation begin to succumb to nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, the terrorists are winning. In a television interview, an eleven-year-old boy asked by the media about the anthrax scare yielded a response that was wise beyond his years. He said that he would try to remain calm, as he didn’t want the terrorists to win. After all, he went on, they spread terror and if we all become terrified, they win.
America is an impatient nation, but now we have to develop patience. President Bush in the days after September 11 told us many times that this effort to defeat terrorism would take a long time. Despite the efforts of the New York Times to "Vietnamize" this war, the American people do understand that one month of bombing is NOT a long time and 80 percent of them support the use of ground troops in Afghanistan.
President Bush told us that this war would be fought on many fronts and that many of our successes would never be revealed. Yet, the American media, especially ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC want to know the latitude and longitude of every American deployed in Afghanistan and surrounding areas. It wasn’t until an outpouring of anger from disgusted Americans that the president of ABC apologized for his statement that he couldn’t comment on whether the Pentagon was a "legitimate target" because he was a journalist first.
If this year’s World Series taught us anything it was: 1) follow the example of the Yankees and the Diamondbacks by never giving up the struggle for freedom; and 2) follow the example of President George W. Bush by being unafraid to walk alone into the arena and throw a strike right down the middle.