Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Das (political) Kapital

Remember from four years ago our regretfully earned terrorist “political capital?” The federal government went on a middle-eastern shopping spree with it, buying some things that New Yorkers found tasteless without even bothering to consult us. (Conquering Baghdad is so B.C.)

Perhaps things would have been different if these purchases hadn’t been overseen by Republican mayors. Proper leadership, despite party affiliations, would have reminded the country and the world that the greatest victim of the attack, New York City, did not support much of the retaliation taken in its defense. It is our city and our safety at stake, isn’t it? Surely, that gives us a claim on the defensive strategy.

Unfortunately, that claim was preempted by a very hasty transfer of victimization after the September 11th attacks. At the time it seemed generous enough, if useless, that the entire country declared itself a victim of the “Attack on America.” It was quaint to see magnetic American flags stuck to SUVs from Omaha to Austin. Sure, they weren’t attacked and won’t likely ever be, but it’s nice to see them fired up about New York’s safety, right?

My oh my, look what came of that. Seeing as everyone was invited to the victim-party, they took it upon themselves to plan their revenge, and with characteristic subtlety. Like a bad boyfriend, America has gone and beaten up anyone that even gave its darling a funny look. (Of course, most Americans hate that darling, but I’m already waist-deep in cynicism so let’s leave that part alone.)

It’s a done deed: Texas made off with New York’s political capital, spent it all, and then kept going without looking back. Nobody likes the U.S. now. Guys – I’m talking to you, cowboys! – you owe us big time.

We’ll never get that global political capital back (and the last thing we want is a fresh deposit) but there’s a different currency that, oddly, we haven’t touched: national political capital. I’m not talking about begging for federal money here. We’ve seen Heimatland defense dollars go places they’re not needed, sometimes hilariously, and we never really got the entire 9-11 handout that the feds promised us. But it’s time to let all that go. Let’s think politically. Let’s think about something that, as a city, we’d love to do, but we need national support for. Boy, do I have some ideas…