TV, Democrats forget terrorism

Roll Right

In Spain, al Qaeda terrorists bomb a train, killing 200 innocent people. In Israel, two 17-year-old homicide bombers kill themselves and 10 others. In America, a negative commercial is run against John Kerry. Which event had political pundits at each other's throats? It was a 30-second TV commercial - making the furor over the ad wars the most blatant example of a growing callousness toward terrorism.

It's a dangerous trend in America, both literally and politically. The murder of innocent people both at home and abroad should never be relegated to the ranks of "other issues." This is not Social Security; this is not the environment. Heck, this isn't a negative commercial. This is undoubtedly the most important issue this generation faces.

Yet according to the most recent CBS News poll, "healthcare" is actually tied with "terrorism" at 13 percent among issues Americans believe are most important.

What happened to the resolve? Where's the determination to defeat terrorism before it can strike again? Where are the priorities of the media? Domestic diva Martha Stewart is getting more media coverage than al Qaeda, and Americans are forgetting the latter exists.

Perhaps terrorism's strongest ally is the news cycle. Yet, while coverage of gruesome bombings turns viewers away, it occasionally reminds them of the serious threats we face. Instead, we change the channel. We avoid thinking about terrorism, accept it as a new evil, and wrap ourselves in the euphoria of "American Idol."

Furthermore, there are special interest groups out there that actually want Americans to focus on issues other than terrorism. No, not the Sierra Club or National Rifle Association. These are legitimate groups with unique goals. I'm talking about political parties with a hunger to win.

The Democratic Party is inching dangerously close to marginalizing the threat of terrorism. In its talking points and stump speeches it bemoans the loss of jobs and scolds the president for his handling of Iraq. Yet Osama bin Laden hardly gets a sound byte. A national political party should not relegate terrorism to the back pages of its policy papers.

It's a dangerous game and the media is playing along. Sen. Kerry and his former primary challengers got away scot-free without ever presenting a plan, much less an idea, to combat international terrorism. Remember Sen. John Edwards' "Two Americas" speech? The word "terrorism" wasn't in it.

But presidential candidates aren't the only ones that forgot about terrorism. Following the attacks in Madrid, European Commission President Romano Prodi said, "The bombs remind us of the urgency and the need to prepare for all these threats to security." I give President Prodi credit for taking terrorism seriously, but I'll one-up him and say remembering terrorism should never be an issue. As the leader of a country, or commission for that matter, you should never forget it in the first place.

There is one person who has not forgotten the threat of terrorism. Say what you will about his politics, but President Bush has been focused like a laser on this threat. It is the difference between being reactionary and responsible. Bush has been warning the world of the threats of terrorism for the past three years, and only with a bombing in its own backyard is the EU reminded "of the urgency and the need to prepare."

Accordingly, Americans believe by a 2-to-1 margin that Bush is best suited to continue executing the War on Terror. That belief is not shaken by TV commercials or pot shots on the campaign trail. Bush is focused on defeating terrorism, and others are focused on defeating him. That's democracy and there is nothing wrong with that. But part of running for president is preparing for the possibility of winning. It is about time Kerry crafted serious policies to deal with terrorism. Otherwise, his potential election would be a very dangerous thing.

Appeasement may be the easy route in Spain, but getting softer on terrorism does not work in a country regarded as "The Great Satan." Diplomacy does not work with those who bomb innocent men, women, and children. Reaching out to our allies makes little difference in the hatred terrorists have for the United States.

Terrorism is the No. 1 issue that will decide the 2004 election, and Bush is the only candidate who remembers that.

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