The Washington Times - October 10, 2008, 11:59AM

Hear that drumbeat in the distance? Smell all those reams of paper and bottles of ink?

It can mean only one thing: It’s almost time for war again.

Not a real war. Nobody likes a real war. That’s why we haven’t actually declared war since June 1942, and then it was only because the Nazis were so nasty.

No, what we like is the metaphorical war. We like to declare war on concepts and inanimate objects. The idea of war focuses our attention and steels our will.

Remember the war on poverty? That was a good war. No prisoners, no surrender.

There was the war on inflation. “Whip Inflation Now” was the cry heard across the land. And we whipped it too. We whipped it good.

We briefly had a war on pornography, but it didn’t get much traction. Learning about the enemy’s ways was too — distracting.

Then there’s the war on drugs. That one’s been a little thorny. Drugs proved to be a lot stronger than we first thought. But we will accept nothing less than victory. So, bartender, pour another round for the house!

And, of course, the war on terror, which is a real war.

But there’s plenty of stuff that’s already happening or will happen soon that will require some savvy, ambitious politician to call for a declaration of war.

For instance, I can already hear the murmurs for a war on obesity. “Food is bad, and more food is terrible.” “People don’t know what’s good for them, so we’ve got to make them eat right.” “Fat people are the problem, and we are the cure.” After all, we’ve already got the food police. Now we just need to give them arrest powers.

About 12 to 16 months ago, you could hear calls for a war on illegal immigration. Those calls could return, so don’t be surprised.

With the way the economy is collapsing, you should expect to see a war on unemployment, probably in the form of some massive public works project, like building a 20-foot-high brick wall on the U.S.-Mexican border in order to give the war on illegal immigration a chance.

There is one war I’d like to see. We need to declare war on M. Night Shamaylan. Have you seen “The Happening?” He must be stopped from making another movie ever again.

Never again!