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Hindsight from a Horse's Hind End

A middle-aged man is rushed to the emergency room with a heart attack. The doctors are unable to save his life. The orderly that hands his personal effects over to his family has a serious look on his face. "We, uh, we found this note in his pocket."

The note says "I have the strange feeling I am going to die today." It is dated the day the man died.

What was it that gave the man the impression he was going to die on that day? How could he possibly have known?

Give up? He didn't. Every day when he woke up, he wrote that message and the current date on a piece of paper, and destroyed the one he had written the day before.

Every day the CIA and FBI and various government agencies get messages and information that some psycho group or another is going to launch a terrorist attack on the United States. The election year after it actually happens, some moron (cough-Daschle) is going to say "Lookee here! You knew this was going to happen!" Maybe if the president were riding high in the polls, that same moron might say "He should have told us what he knew."

News Flash: Osama Bin Laden is going to attack the United States. Duh. He did it what, three, four times during Clinton's watch? Well, Mr. Daschle, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you have access to all this information. Here is a wheelbarrow full of all the vague and non-specific threats we have on terrorist activity for today. As a self-declared expert on the subject, could you go through all this and tell us what the appropriate response is? Thanks. And while you're at it, let's give the American public all this information. Never mind that they can never read through this telephone book-sized volume before tomorrow when a new issue the same size will be released. And try not to worry about the agents that will be compromised and those that will die when we reveal this information. It is an election year, after all.

So I decided to try the Daschle approach. I decided to heed every little warning I get. I woke up with a sore leg muscle this morning. Of course I called in to work and said I couldn't come in. You hear about people dying when a blood clot breaks loose in their leg and gets to their heart. I'd be a fool to ignore that warning. I would have seen the doctor, but I didn't want to get in my car. I heard that tires can come apart and kill you. I'd be a fool to ignore that warning. The wife told me that I should try to eat something. No, sir, I'm not falling for that one. Do you know how dangerous food poisoning can be? She said if I was going to be home, could I at least go out and get the mail. What, and get a bomb or anthrax poisoning? How irresponsible would that be? Don't even think about getting me close to a shower. Slip and break a hip, maybe die? Not for me. No sir, I'm going to sit on this chair away from windows and wall hangings and live my life.

Tell me any activity you do during a day and I'll show you an article in Reader's Digest where somebody suffered dire consequences from doing it.

The problem here is the old classic of 20/20 hindsight. We make a thousand decisions a day. When they turn out okay, we think nothing. When they turn out bad, we think, "I shouldn't have done that." Al Unser Jr. shouldn't have pitted on lap 78 'cause on lap 80 there was a crash and he could've gotten fuel and tires without losing a lap. That's easy to say after lap eighty, but to the crew chief looking at an empty fuel tank on lap 77, it's a little tougher call. Aunt Vonda May should have gotten the French dip instead of the chicken and we wouldn't have been late for the movie. See what an easy call that is after the event? We would have won the game if only Stockton had passed to Russell instead of Ostertag . . . well, okay, some calls are easier than others.

But Daschle has a point. Had we shut down the airlines on September 11th, the attack wouldn't have happened. Oh, what's that? We didn't know for sure it was going to be September 11th? Okay, so shut down the airlines for all of September. What? We didn't even know it was going to be September? Well, shoot, let's shut them down all year. Small price to pay for preventing such a horrendous attack. How's that? We didn't know it it was going to a hijacked plane? It could have been a power plant or a bridge or an apartment building? Oh, for crying out loud, close all the bridges, shut all the parks, blockade all the highways and keep all the ships in port. Do I have to think of everything?

Tommy Boy is right. Let's heed every vague and non-specific threat and warning that crosses the desks of all the agencies. Let's close the dams and airlines and recreation areas and bridges and malls and highways and power plants and factories and office buildings. Let's all sit and home and shiver in the dark and not go anywhere.

That'll show those terrorists.

Frank Leany

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