October 25, 2006

These are the stakes

The ad that Lynden Johnson ran in 1964 that targeted the Barry Goldwater campaign only ran once but likely remains the most famous political television ad in broadcast history.

The newest round of Republican campaign ads begin with the same four words.

"These are the stakes."

I wonder if we all truly feel quite the same existential fear as the television viewers of fourty-two years ago experienced, there at the height of the Cold War. Perhaps older relatives and friends can better inform me. Or residents of New York, Washington and London. And Madrid, Mumbai, Baghdad, Kabul and Tel Aviv. Or any of the parents whose sons and daughters have died in those lands as journalists, aid workers, contractors and in the armed services.

I do know that I've certainly never felt truly safe since 9/11.

I'm waiting for something like it to happen again, in any of the thousands of scenarios played out in film and pulp fiction by 24 and Tom Clancy.

Perhaps "existential fear" does describe it accurately.

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