I would be remiss if I didn’t write about the Madrid bombing in a little more
detail. The most haunting image that stays with me is the dozens of cellphones
heard ringing inside the wreckage – the loved ones calling the dead ones
to see if they are still alive. It sticks in my head like the image of the two
people holding hands and jumping off the World Trade Center. That when all
hope is gone – you don’t have to be alone. That plummet. Those images are burned
into my retina for the rest of my days. And another 9-11 icon for me is the
thousands of hastily photocopied flyers all over downtown New York for missing
persons that will forever be missed.
The voicemails to the dead sticks in my head – that and the grief-march of
the Spanish people. While we stayed inside when terrorism came home to the United
States – either camped out watching CNN for three days solid or retreating to
church – these people got out in the streets and let loose their confusion and
anger – and eventually their votes.
While the right wing now claims that Zapatero was never in the race until
the terrorist attacks occurred, in fact the conservative party’s defeat was
always a possibility. The last poll, conducted four days before the March
11 attacks, ” showed that the gap had narrowed, giving the Popular Party 42
percent, compared with 38 percent for the Socialists.” The four-point spread
is well within the standard margin of error for opinion polls. Nicolas Checa,
a Spanish political expert, said o”the handling or mishandling of public information
in the 48 hours after the tragic events of last Thursday.” The real lesson:
if you mislead the people in a democratic society, they will hold you accountable.
So where does that lead our elections? A well-timed attack on the United States would successfully swing Bush back into a second-term as people react and run for Daddy White House. Is Al Queda’s best strategy to lay low – stand down and hope Kerry repairs things? Or is it all and out pointless stupid wasteful destruction? Keep watching at home as White Houses insists this all just bad branding.