Day by Day

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What We Should Be Asking

I was chatting with a good friend tonight, and our topics meandered, as internet chats tend to do.

One of the questions raise was, naturally, about the next Presidential election. I've always beleived that we ask our candidates the wrong questions. Yes, surely we would like to know where they stand, or would have stood, on recent issues of importance to us. How does Candidate Smith feel about drugs? Stem cells? The ubiquitous abortion question? Crime? Gun Control? Education? Etc., etc., etc.

But, contrary to what we've been led to believe since a certain scandal (you remember, "... it doesn't matter what he does on his own time, or his character, it's how he does the job..."), character does count.

We need to have some idea of what the President will do when our next unknown situation comes along.

For example.

Today's news story: Extremists Driving School Buses

It seems that there are people of extremists nature driving our children around. Concerned? No, of course not. Britney may have fallen in love in re-hab.

Besides, we're told it's not a concern. Of course, the FBI is often in the habit of investigating and chasing down leads of people that shouldn't concern us.

So, let's imagine a scenario...

It's not too long after the new President has taken office. The terrorists have listened to seven years about how we took the fight "over there" to keep them from hurting us "over here". And how they haven't been successful.

In the meantime, they've studied us. They know our weakest areas. Partly due to our freely discussing our weaknesses and doing exposes whenever a weakness comes out. (Always on an anonymous and confidential basis, of course.)

Their planners have worked hard. They've needed to get people into the country. While they might go through the new passport process, it's more likely that they came through one of our porous borders. Not as a group, but separately... over time.

So, cells in place? Check. Now, they may be innocuous and not even look Arab OR they may go the route of being blatant and using our political correctness against us (see: USAir imams).

They will need explosives... hmmm. Given the arms market, and the ease of moving things around... let's give this one a Check.

Target? Think for a second. In any issue that comes up, what is the number one way of trying to sway the emotions? "What about the children?" If the children aren't safe, no one is. That's our psyche. Nothing will tear at us more than a hurt child.

Opportunity? Hmmm, how about... school buses?

Now, how to do it? Well, you need to know where the schools are. Ok, easy. School schedules? Use the local school website. Bus routes? Also easily obtainable, but if nothing else, rent a minivan or two, and follow something big and yellow around town. Good chance it's a school bus.

School buses aren't inspected when they pull up to the school, are they? Nah.

So, you have your cells. Spread them around the country. No, not the big cities... random "Heartland" cities... maybe those with large school districts. For good measure, and to account for a possible 25% failure rate, let's plan for maybe 20 different cities.

Once all is planned, and drivers are hired (several per district, redundancy is good)... you load each bus with 1,000 pounds of TNT or some other handy-dandy explosive.

Select a morning.

Coordinate with all the cells.

And then, on that morning... as the bus in in line, with all of the other buses, also full of children (each bus often holds between 45-60 children), parked in front of the local elementary school... where lots of loving parents have recently dropped off their prides and joys...


CNN is carrying the news... reports are coming in from around the country. Early estimates are between 1,500 and 2,000 children, most kindergarteners through fourth grade (under 10, folks), are dead. Along with parents and teachers. Helicopters and cell phone videos are showing large craters, and burned out hulks of buses, schools collapsed, a flag pole snapped in two, the burnt, torn flag flapping in the smoky breeze.

And then, all of the networks carry the image of the day... CNN/MSNBC/FOX/EVERYBODY shows a paremedic, tears streaming down his stoic face, bringing out the body of a young kindergartener. Her hand is still clutching her Strawberry Shortcake doll. The reporter tells us that the blanket covering her is to hide the fact that half her body isn't there anymore.

Question: When the adviser leans over to tell the President the news, whom do you want the President to be? Whom do you want the President to have for advisers? Because we all know that one of the thoughts that our new President will have is to turn to or call his (or her, Hillary fans) closest advisers and friends and ask, "Oh my God, what do I do now?"

Scenario continued: Early reports show that the intelligence agencies have been tracking some of those suspected of carrying out the attack. They come from countries such as (hmmm, let's say...) Libya, Syria, and Egypt (one of our allies). Quite a few groups are claiming credit, and there are even images of celebrations in the streets of some nations.

What do we do? How do we respond?

What effect will this have? How many parents will send their kids to school the next day?

Next week?

If the kids aren't at school... they're at home. Someone has to watch them. There goes the workforce.

And how long before parents piece it together... if they're not safe at our government schools, what about day care centers? Uh oh.

If our workforce isn't at work... then what about the economy.

And where else will people not go? Will parents let their teenagers go to hang out at the mall? Not likely. Expect malls to close.

Gun ownership will of course go up. There may even be an occasional accidental shooting as some concerned, nervous parent, untrained in their new gun, mistakes ______________ as a terrorist. (I'm not against gun ownership, but it is a potential result.)

The economy will come to a standstill. Our societal framework will be stressed. For as bad as 9/11 was, most of us didn't work in tall sky-scrapers in New York, and quite a few of us didn't fly. So, after awhile, even though it was a monumental tragedy and touched us deeply, we could still send our children to school in perceived and trusted safety and go to work.

Past issues are important, but we need to know what our next President is made of at his core. For, when the next scenario comes (and it will), we will want to know what will he do? Is he up to the task?

Who do you want to be given the news and have to ask, "Oh my God, what do I do now?"


Mary*Ann said...

Terrifying...for me...national security...trumps all the other issues.

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Good thinking, good blog, SC - This is a horrifying scenario, but certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

Ditto, M*A. Who? Somehow, I don't think a majority of voters will be thinking in these terms, though. In spite of 9/11, too many still believe we in the US can just continue with our lives and let someone else worry about this kind of stuff.