"I can't help it. I've been wondering lately -- could Osama bin Laden be winning?"
"Winning? Are you nuts! After he and his conspirators attacked us on 9/11, he had to flee to a cave."
"I may not be a policy expert or historian, but hear me out. Right after al-Qaida attacked, we were united. We invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban harbored terrorists."
"We rolled right through the place, too!"
"But then we overreacted and were soon divided. President Bush and the Republicans, fearing one of our cities would go up in a nuclear blast, invaded Iraq to kick out Saddam Hussein and seize what we were told were his weapons of mass destruction."
"Saddam flouted the rules. He had it coming!"
"Invading Iraq was an idealistic move, however -- never the government's strong suit. The hope was to implant a shining democracy in the Middle East."
"Things are better there now than when Saddam was running the joint!"
"Aside from war, America was already in recession before 9/11, thanks in part to the bursting of the tech-stock bubble. After 9/11, a worried Federal Reserve began a series of interest-rate cuts to pump 'easy money' into the economy."
"Desperate times call for desperate actions!"
"That policy, combined with bad government policies to both create (Citizens Reinvestment Act) and buy (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) bundles of risky subprime loans, would lead to a massive housing bust, which would really crash our economy."
"You're saying bin Laden indirectly contributed to the housing bust and the economic meltdown that followed?"
"By 2008, the American public was sick of Republicans, who had majorities in the House and Senate. They were tired of wasteful spending and angered by a war that dragged on, costing us lives and treasure. Combine that with a bad economy and the public was eager for any kind of 'hope and change.'"
"Now you're saying a backlash to the war, which was a result of overreacting to 9/11, set the stage for Democrats to take over the House, Senate and presidency?"
"Yep. And Democrats have spent billions we don't have on programs that did little to stimulate the economy. They imposed a government-directed health care system on us that is going to send costs through the roof. They have extended the tentacles of government more deeply into the private sector. How we will manage trillions in new mandates and costs, as well as the trillions in liabilities we already had, is beyond anyone's guess."
"So you're saying bin Laden had this all planned? He knew his attack would cause us to overreact in war and knew that the way we managed our economy would lead to the election of Democrats, who would weigh down that fragile economy with more burdens that would make us even weaker and more fragile?"
"I don't want to give the jerk that much credit. But bin Laden has said loud and clear that his intent was not to fight us militarily, but to destroy our economy. His only hope for doing that was to divide us and get us to destroy ourselves."
"We fell into his trap?"
"I hope not. But I do know it hasn't been 10 years since 9/11 -- and look at the mess we've created. If we don't get beyond this Democrat-Republican bickering -- if we don't come together as Americans to resolve the sizable problems we face -- a real world of hurt lies ahead."
"I get it, pal. You worry that we're beating ourselves, just as bin Laden had hoped -- and you're beginning to depress me."
©2010 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, a freelance writer is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.