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The Ringing Red Phone and The Runaway Train

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Message Kristen Breitweiser

Initially I intended to write a very different blog, but while researching that blog I came across the following quote that rocked me into reality:

While the nation was having a good laugh at the expense of Florida's hanging chads and butterfly ballots, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi were there, in Florida, learning to drive commercial jetliners (and ram them into the World Trade Center towers). It will take a novelist to paint that broad canvas properly. It will take some deep political thinking to understand how the lackadaisical attitude toward government and the world helped leave the country so unready for the horror that Atta and Shehhi were preparing. -- Michael Oreskes, New York Times, October 21, 2001.

History proves that al-Qaeda likes to strike within 7-10 year cycles. History also shows that al-Qaeda likes to take advantage of transition times in United States politics. In other words, al-Qaeda knows that new administrations are more vulnerable and ripe for attack. A sobering fact to think about while we witness the back-stabbing, squabbling, and fratricide spewing between the Obama and Clinton camps.

Yes, there is much dramatic debate revolving around the comparative experience (or relative inexperience) of both Clinton and Obama. Swirling questions as to who is better qualified to answer the menacing phone ringing at 3 a.m. In fact, some people -- namely Obama's foreign policy expert Susan Rice -- feel that neither Clinton and Obama are experienced to answer that phone call. Let's hope she misspoke.

But the truth is that both Clinton and Obama would probably handle the phone call in similar ways. They would do their best to remain calm and lead our country in a time of crisis. Who wouldn't?

They would then turn to their advisors and seek their counsel. Would there be any line of demarcation separating such advice -- in other words, does either candidate have a superior set of advisors? Not really. Frankly, both Clinton and Obama have very similar advisors who would most likely offer the same sort of advice. And that advice would be status quo.

Most campaign advisors for both Clinton and Obama are former Clinton administration personnel: Sandy Berger, Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright are advising Hillary Clinton; Richard Clarke, Roger Cressey, Anthony Lake are advising Obama. Not much difference there really. Just more of the same. (Of course, I would choose any of these guys over some of McCain's choices like Henry Kissinger!)

It's bad enough that the likes of Karl Rove and the Republican attack machine are plotting and planning to hold onto the White House for their "100 more years of war."

It's even worse that al-Qaeda is plotting and planning for an attack on our homeland to kill thousands of innocents.

Perhaps worse still is that our troops are being killed on the battlefield and suffering painfully in veterans' hospitals daily.

Adding to our worries is the looming recession that is already causing people to lose their homes, their jobs and their savings.

But perhaps most of all, we need to realize that we are not showing leadership with our current behavior. Folks, we have got to get our priorities in order. The runaway train of the Democratic Party needs to stop. And somebody needs to take control.

I think it was refreshing to see that Hillary Clinton recently mentioned the concept of a unity ticket. And yes, maybe she mentioned it because she is currently behind in the delegate count. But, she still gets accolades for offering the possibility on the morning after winning Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island.

I am dismayed that Obama would not consider a unity ticket yet -- according to him, it is too premature to contemplate. That's a shame. But it reminds me of another time when Obama spoke about being way too premature.

In November 2004, Oprah asked Obama if he would be the first black President. Obama's response:

Listen, if you're in politics at a certain point you think about where to take your career. But at this stage, it's way too premature. Politics is a marathon. So many things can change. You can't plan 12 years ahead. But what I will say is this: We can win the race we're in now. I think I have the aptitude to be a terrific U.S. Senator. And if, at the end of my first term, the people of Illinois say, "This guy's been serving us well," then I'll be in a strong position to have a lot of influence in this country for a long time to come-whether or not I'm President.

Dare I mention that 12 years from 2004 would be 2016 -- a year that dovetails nicely with the concept of a unity ticket...


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Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow and activist, is known for pressuring official Washington to provide a public accounting to the American people of what went wrong on the morning of September 11 and in the months leading up to the disaster that (more...)
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