NOTE: Cafe’s chief political columnist Carl Diggler is still on an indefinite leave of absence. In his place we’re running Deep Dig, a retrospective of the finest pieces of reporting and editorializing in the Dig’s 30-year career. Today’s piece is from September 11, 2002, originally titled, “Kudos, Osama.”
Well, Mr. Bin Laden, you’ve accomplished something.
One year after you struck at the heart of our economic and military institutions, you certainly revealed a lot about us.
You revealed that we can put issues aside and bipartisanly vote to authorize force in Afghanistan, for the critical Sarbanes-Oxley financial reporting law, and for the USA PATRIOT Act, all of which strengthen the union you so despise.
You revealed that we Americans are a united people.
You revealed that Pat Tillman, who has just completed basic training instead of remaining in the NFL, is a true hero who will likely meet you in battle.
I’m sorry, was that not what you were looking for?
Let me tell you something, Osama. America, unlike Afghanistan, is a country with leaders. The smart, judicious men and women who hustle and bustle through our nation’s capital chairing committees and writing laws weren’t shaken by your attempts to scare us. Instead, you hardened their resolve.
Instead of doing what you wanted, our brave and genius Congressmen are preparing to further stop your brand of terror from becoming nuclear armed in Iraq. I bet you thought you’d have a useful stable of jihadis ready to continue your legacy of apocalyptic fanaticism there. Well, too bad. In a few years the Iraqis will be voters, not bombers.
With the success of our unified polity supporting the spread of freedom to nations that once fostered hateful feelings towards the United States, we will be safer than ever. Yes, in small numbers there are some naysayers. Those on the extreme right wish to bomb the entire Middle East into dust, while you’ve scared those on the Berkeley granola-eating far left enough to completely disavow the idea of war. However, these wackos are righteously ignored by their parties. The former is a type of hate you will never see in our politics, because we are simply not a scared people. The latter will be proven wrong with every benchmark of military success we meet. Though both are so small in numbers, their participation is totally immaterial compared to the sleeping, moderate dragon you awakened, Mr. bin Laden.
Instead of staying home, cowed by your cowardly attacks, our Commander-in-Chief has encouraged us to stimulate the economy. The generous credit scores, already booming housing market, and rallying stock market spit in your face every time you condemn the global icon of freedom.
Instead of being divided, we remain fiercely united at an historic level. Thanks to this post-9/11 unity, in a few years, we will no longer address our ethnic, religious, or racial differences. We will just be Americans. “Hate crimes” will be a thing of the past. Politically-adept billionaires such as Donald Trump will fund the most common sense candidates in election cycles. Compassionate conservatism will overtake fringe elements in the Republican Party, and identity politics will become a thing of the past. All because we united in pure defiance of you, Mr. bin Laden.
So, thank you. Thank you for the future of our politics, which is Dick Durbin-style ultra liberals and compassionate conservatives like John Cornyn finding common ground on things like private school vouchers and tort reform, issues that affect us all. Thank you for our new class of unglamorous but no-nonsense leaders like Mark Foley, Anthony Weiner, and Dennis Hastert. In particular, thanks for superstar freshman Senator-elect Lindsey Graham, an heroic young man with a bright future, one who may one day preside over your trial. Get to know him, Osama. I know the rest of us will.
Here’s a vision of the future. The year is 2010. A young father sits in the living room of his paid-off four-bedroom home, which has sextupled in value since he purchased it with a cheap mortgage 11 years ago. His son George (get ready for a lot of children named after the President, folks!) sits athwart his lap as on TV President Lindsey Graham announces the first bilateral trade agreement with a new nation, The United Provinces of Iraq. He proudly shakes hands with fellow alpha male and Iraqi President Ahmed Chalabi. But they’re not in the Oval Office. They’re in the former “Holy City of Qom,” in the former “Iran.” Since Iran’s Democratic revolution in 2007 (Iraq gave their young voters a few ideas!), Qom will have been renamed New Washington, in honor of their friends in America. It is also part of Iraq now. Vice President Alan K. Simpson, the United States’ chief negotiator, begins a slow round of applause. Millions in their homes across the United States follow suit, some of them former Iraqi soldiers who liked their American commanders so much, they thought they’d see what this marvelous experiment of a country, with its optional social security, reformed torts, endless jobs, and balanced budget amendments was all about.
Too bad you won’t be alive to see it, Osama. Well, too bad for you. But regardless, I am so confident in the future of this country, I’d bet my wife and future child on it! That may be going a little far, but you can’t blame any American for feeling cocky right now.
This article originally appeared in the September 11, 2002 issue of the Minnetonka Bugle.
Editor’s note: If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Carl Diggler, please e-mail his editor at firstname.lastname@example.org or notify the police.