When I was a kid, we got to know a family about two doors away. Their mom and ours became very close friends. The grandmother was a sweet and cantankerous old lady, Mrs. Armbruster. Grandma Armbruster would take some of the kids in the neighborhood for car rides. My little brother always looked forward to that. I never understood why until years later.
It seems Grandma Armbruster was kind of a little kid herself. She was fun to be with because she was wildly irresponsible. In our later teens, my brother regaled the family, including our horrified mother, with stories of the, by then departed, Grandma Armbruster.
When one of the kids wondered aloud whether the speedometer on the car reflected how fast the car could really be pushed. Grandma Armbruster conducted an experiment on a straight backwoods road to find out. The kids had a lot of fun.
On another drive, a police officer pulled the group over. Grandma Armbruster had ignored a stop sign. To the delight of the youthful passengers, Grandma Armbruster became indignant and began a demented argument. "Look at that windshield!" she demanded of the startled officer. "How do you expect me to see a little stop sign through that dirty glass?" The kids tried to stifle their giggles at the deranged logic.
I hadn't thought of Grandma Armbruster for many years, may she rest in peace. But a mantra from conservative commentators brings her to my mind.
At Least Bush Kept Us Safe, says Peggy Noonan. Give Bush credit for keeping us safe, repeats Judith Miller. "That a President of the United States protected us from deadly enemies may not seem like much of an accomplishment to some," sniffs Thomas Sowell. Letter writers, and bloggers keep the beat. President Bush kept us safe. Even a former President of the Boy Scouts of America, gets in on the act, If Nothing Else, We've Been Safe.
A series of governmental studies, from a 16 agency joint commission in 2006 to the Government Accounting Office last November, have all concluded that threats to the US have increased since 2001, while security has deteriorated.
But aside from the Anthrax attacks, only a few thousand US military personnel, some embassy employees, a few hostages, and hundreds of thousands of foreigners have died. If we restrict our vision to US soil itself, we can defend our former President just as we can defend Grandma Armbruster.
Say what you will, says Republican reasoning, she kept those kids safe.
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