- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

When terror wins

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University and the New Republic’s legal affairs editor, argues in his new book that the United States is reacting to irrational fears in the aftermath of September 11.

In “The Naked Crowd” (Random House, $24.95), the author examines everything from the psychology of fear to recent beefed-up security at airports, including the tendency by Americans to overreact to remote risks: from the latest Code Orange alerts to runs on duct tape and plastic sheeting.

Mr. Rosen says “fear” has become this country’s greatest enemy in the war on terror, and offers suggestions on how the American public — Uncle Sam and a sensationalist media included — can deal with its anxiety.

He also provides a blueprint for terrorism responses that have been most effective (Israel’s) and least effective (Britain’s).

What if, God forbid, a radioactive “dirty bomb” does explode in the nation’s capital?

“[T]he terror produced by a dirty bomb that was detonated in downtown Washington, D.C. … would [be] amplified by 24/7 cable TV channels and broadcast repeatedly to a transfixed nation. The pictures of the contaminated scene would create panic entirely disproportionate to the radioactive threat, perhaps requiring the evacuation of large portions of the capital city and billions of dollars in cleanup,” he says.

Worse yet, the U.S. government “might be brought to a halt, and the constitutional structures that maintained a fragile equilibrium after 9/11 might be tested beyond the breaking point.”

Grande latte

Wonder what the typical liberal looks like these days? Apparently he or she hangs out at Starbuck’s wearing headphones tuned in to National Public Radio.

Noting that his Club for Growth PAC, the political action arm of one the nation’s leading tax-cut advocacy organizations, will unveil a new television advertising campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire criticizing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s tax-raising ideology as hopelessly out of step with the rest of America, club President Stephen Moore sees fit to add:

“Howard Dean’s liberalism may play well with latte-drinking, body-piercing, public radio listening crowd, but it won’t play with hard-working Americans.”

Mr. Moore, who obviously drinks his coffee black and from the pot, says the Democratic front-runner has moved further and further to the left during the past year, which “poses a grave threat to the economic well-being of all Americans.”

Feds vote

How will Howard Dean fare next November if, in fact, the former Vermont governor becomes the Democrats’ presidential nominee?

Who better to ask than the nation’s large force of federal bureaucrats, an informed bunch who historically pay close attention to who their next boss will be.

Ralph Smith, who keeps in close contact with federal workers through his popular www.fedsmith.com Web site, tells Inside the Beltway that some are predicting a landslide for President Bush that will “rival the debacle of George McGovern.”

“While it is too early to reach this conclusion, current events are moving in the direction of the incumbent president,” Mr. Smith agrees.

His site’s most recent poll, taken a few days after the capture of Saddam Hussein and shortly after the endorsement of Mr. Dean by former Vice President Al Gore, shows Mr. Bush leading Mr. Dean by 10 percentage points.

(Forty-nine percent of the feds polled said they would vote for Mr. Bush; 39 percent support Mr. Dean; and 9 percent another candidate).

However, the average federal employee responding to the survey also sees his or her self-interest “better served” by Democrats, adds Mr. Smith, who these days is opening hundreds of letters from feds in advance of the 2004 presidential election.

We had to laugh at a retired NASA official who wrote: “Feds are among the highest-paid employee group, yet they carp incessantly about their sorry lot in life. If they are so underpaid, overworked, abused, etc., then why don’t they quit and get that higher-paid job they all seem to believe is out there in the private sector?

“Because they know better, but cannot seem to escape their culture of playing the downtrodden victim. Keep up the good work, President Bush.”

End is near

In the “you can say that again” category, the headline of presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman’s latest campaign news release reads: “Time is running out.”

• John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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