February 8, 2008

The Terrorists Win Construction

In America, it’s seen as a sign of weakness to quit anything, no matter what it is. If your leg is caught in a bear trap, you’re a weakling if you don’t let yourself bleed to death.

On NPR last night (media for people who try to think about bear traps before stepping in them) they said that there were a number of really smart reasons for Mitt Romney to exit the race when he did. Foremost, they said that his experience as a businessman led him to know when to get out of a bad situation.

McCain must have sensed Mitt Romney’s smartness. Perhaps this is why McCain accused Romney of having a plan to get out of Iraq, something which Romney vehemently denied. For Bush Republicans, it’s very bad press to say you have a plan for anything. It’s especially bad if the plan involves admitting you made a mistake.

If giving up is practically a cardinal sin in the conservative world, how the heck can Romney pull it off without losing face?

Of course, there’s only one thing that trumps everything else. The “Terrorists Win Construction.”

You’re already maddeningly familiar with it, because you lived through the Bush years. “The terrorists win if…” It is the unstoppable force of Republican rhetoric. It’s a get-out-of-jail free card whenever it can be convincingly played. No matter how we try to turn it into a joke, it survives because there is nothing more un-American than being for something that someone else claims would allow the terrorists to win.

That’s what is going to ultimately unite Republicans behind McCain. It worked on Romney. You think it was his idea alone to drop out? Nah. He likely got some earnest phone calls saying “Well, we really would have gotten behind you, but now the terrorists will win if you don’t drop out of the race.” (Hint: Republicans even use this phrase on each other).

The terrorists win if… you don’t support McCain. They will dutifully pull the lever like they’ve been trained to do, even if they don’t like it.

The reason so many people want change is not that they’re eager for the terrorists to win. They’ve just started to figure out that they have no idea what “the terrorists will win” has to do with “America will succeed.”

When you look around at problems facing this country, you see that there is a very real reason we need to work together on America’s success rather than think that everything is going to be fine as long as we elect the people who tell us that the terrorists aren’t winning.

We need a new construction. “America will win if…” we are not afraid to temper our emotions with intelligence. “America will win if…” we have fewer enemies, rather than collecting them proudly. “America will win if…” we see diplomacy as an expression of strength, not weakness.” America will win if…” we don’t scapegoat immigrants, but instead let them help us build a better nation. “America will win if…” workers are treated fairly and prosperity reaches every American. “American will win if…” we have a better educated citizenry.

Feel free to add your own.

Posted by James at February 8, 2008 9:11 AM
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My very favorite "The Terrorists Win" construction appeared in--what else?--a New Yorker cartoon.

Two guys are at a bar, both drinking martinis, and one says to the other, "I figure if I don't have that third Martini, then the terrorists win."

I have this cartoon tacked up in my cube. See it on the Cartoon Bank website here:


Posted by: Patti M. at February 8, 2008 6:57 PM

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