Point Two of the Ackerman war strategy has been championed most earnestly by Times columnist Frank Rich, providing continuity with his typical NARAL press-release style. In October, Rich was denouncing the administration's ham-handed approach to the war on terrorism on the grounds that Attorney General John Ashcroft had doggedly refused to meet with Planned Parenthood representatives after the anthrax mailings.
This, strangely, was despite the fact that anthrax has never been sent to an abortion clinic, and therefore Planned Parenthood could be of absolutely no help in tracking down the source of the mailings. But as Rich interpreted it, Ashcroft had "gone so far as to turn away firsthand information about domestic terrorism for political reasons."
According to Rich, abortion clinics had plenty of experience with "such homegrown Talibans as the Army of God." Planned Parenthood could have provided leads on "the convergence of international and domestic terrorism."
The "Army of God" turned out to be one guy: a bank robber-cum-anti-abortionist who was already on the FBI's most-wanted list. Since his escape from prison on bank robbery charges, he had been sending harmless white powder to abortion clinics.
Nonetheless, Rich blathered on, proclaiming that Planned Parenthood had "marshaled the medical and security expertise" to combat terrorism. Demonstrating some of that hard-earned expertise, the "director of security" for Planned Parenthood laughed at "the sight of Mr. Ashcroft and other federal Keystone Kops offering a $1 million reward for anthrax terrorists." It showed how "little grasp they have of the enemy."
About one month later, the "Army of God" bank robber was caught, thanks to Ashcroft and other federal Keystone Kops offering a different $50,000 reward on widely circulated wanted posters.
The SURRENDER NOW! strategy was given early moral succor by Maureen Dowd's pre-war columns in which she repeatedly accused Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of being out of touch. In August 2001, for example, she said "the urgent question" was "just how conscious of the world around him Rip Van Rummy is."
Amid a lot of (similarly hilarious) sneering, Dowd snipped that Rumsfeld was "clueless about the press." (If Dowd ran the Department of Defense instead of killing terrorists, it would be issuing catty press releases on Britney Spears' underwear and the collapse of Talk magazine.)
Dowd was exultant. "I guess we can close the book on W.'s contention that the best way to run government is with the wisdom of corporate chieftains," she said. In a ringing peroration, she declared that Rumsfeld -- as well as Vice President Dick Cheney -- do "not know anything about how the world works." The "most striking thing is how out of touch they act."
Al-Qaida must dearly wish it were so.