By: Charles G. Slepian
Political candidates are attracted to person-to-person campaigning among the voters. They want to be seen in neighborhoods where voters live or work; advance teams frequently spend time looking for opportunities for appearances at outdoor events such as ball games, amusement parks, resorts, parades or major public events for their candidate to attend, be seen and develop personal relationships. An in-person visit to a community center, where questions are taken and answered by a candidate can, and often does, provide an edge for the candidate who takes the time to show up, especially over an opponent who has appeared elsewhere but doesn’t make it to your street.
After the shock of Pan Am flt.103 exploding over Lockerbee, Scotland in 1988, the United States was put on notice that Islamic terrorism had declared war on America, and that commercial aviation was its leading target. In the aftermath of this horrific slaughter, in which all 269 aboard a Boeing 747, mostly American college students on their way to New York’s Kennedy Airport from London’s Heathrow were killed in the sky at 30,000 ft. and debris from the airliner was spread over the little village of Lockerbie claiming 11 residents in their beds and raising the death toll to 270 victims, murdered by Libyan terrorists. This attack was followed by a torrent of promises from the United States and elsewhere that the perpetrators would pay for their crimes and that long promised improvements in commercial aviation security would be put in place to protect airports, airliners and the public from future acts of this kind.
A number of highly respected sources usually turned to for creative thinking on issues of crime and terrorism were seen giving television interviews with a very disturbing “deer in the head lights” look I in their eyes. While I didn’t expect to hear too much creative thinking so soon after a terrorism attack of this magnitude, there was something new about the tone and content of the opinions being given. There was a focus on the failure of Belgium law enforcement to foresee these attacks and in time at least to limit their scope. Much of the critical commentary centered on the arrest last week of the sought after Paris attack terrorist, Salah Abdeslam.
I have been trying not to dwell on the daily media reports of America’s slide into chaos. However, cable and network news, talk radio and a parade of television commentators draw me like a duck to water. I, like so many others who were addicted to print media for hard news, now get more of my news electronically; and I get it live, in color, and with the spin to fit my mood by anticipating what my chosen commentator is going to say. With the “On Demand channel” I can even decide which version of the lead news story of the day I want to believe; all I need is the time to compare the commentators on the competing news channels.
When Hassan Malik Nadal, an active duty U.S. Army psychiatrist awaiting deployment to Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas, was found guilty of shooting and killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others, the federal government labeled the shootings workplace violence. They denied customary awards, such as Purple Hearts to those killed or wounded in action. The government’s decision was found offensive to many Americans given the shooter’s avowed support for radical Islamic causes. Public opinion caused the Department of Defense to reverse itself and ultimately award Purple Hearts to those who earned them at the hands of a terrorist at Fort Hood. The Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center agrees with the awards ultimately made to our troops and only regrets that the decision to award needed to be based on public pressure. In addition to the Order of the Purple Heart awards, the victims have become eligible for medical care and disability benefits for their combat injuries. It took 5 years for the White House and Defense Department to honor the nation’s debt to these soldiers.