In the course of rhapsodizing about high-speed rail in his state-of-the-union address, the president assayed a little humor. Feeble though the attempt was, it was a revealing moment. From the official White House transcript, this is what he said:
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying -- without the pat-down. (Laughter and applause.)
Let us imagine that this president -- unlike the 43 others before him -- is blessed with 20-20 foresight. To him the future is an open book, and the rest of us dull mortals who doubted him during his first term are struck dumb with awe by the middle of his second term. In admitting how wrong he was for so long, Bob Tyrrell mans up and renames this publication The American Progressive.
In any case, it is now 2013 and 2014 and, much to our surprise, we discover that it is possible to travel from Peoria to Orlando in less than an hour by high-speed rail. We also notice the oceans have fallen, the world's climate has taken a turn for the better (no more hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, floods, tornadoes, thunder storms, heat lightning, or freakish weather of any sort), and everyone is happy to be driving an electric car, given to him (and, of course, her) free of charge, courtesy of Government Motors.
So all this was what Mr. Obama meant with all the talk about innovation and Winning the Future in the SOTU.
I am resolved to be a good progressive. I will banish every negative thought from my mind and go along with the president in imagining our future as the Socialist Republic of Green Industries and High-Speed Rail.
I tell myself not to think of how hard I laughed at the lightly concealed obscenity in Sarah Palin's comment on Fox immediately following the president's address ("His theme was WTF, you know 'Winning the future,' and I thought, okay, that acronym is spot on. There are a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech, Greta"). And it works. Through positive thinking I am able to forget all about that little witticism.
Soon -- like the president -- I am suffused by so many happy thoughts that I can't stop smiling (or feeling sorry for the rest of you creeps who still don't get it). Even so, I am plagued by a single nagging doubt. As a recent convert to thinking only happy thoughts about ever-increasing government "investment" and involvement in the betterment of lives, I must ask myself --
Why are there no pat-downs in our utopian rail stations?
Is it because the president and the chief of Homeland Security have excluded terrorists… told them that they, alone, will not be allowed to ride on our 600 mph bullet trains? Will we deny equal access to the terrorists, even if they agree to go along with all the same security precautions as nursing mothers and their babies, nonagenarians on walkers, and innocuous groups of Japanese business men?
That doesn't sound very nice.
After all, it is not as though terrorists always prefer one-way air travel to rail. Surely the president recalls the Madrid and London train bombings.
I cannot believe we would be so barbaric as to adopt racial profiling on the high-speed rail system that will soon be crisscrossing the United States -- weaving in and out wind farms and speeding across vast deserts covered with solar collector panels. Just think of what that involves.
Having waved pat-downs aside, must we deny rail tickets to all dark-complexioned young men with bushy beards, or to all women who cover themselves from head to toe in black burkas? Do we single out everyone who looks the part of a devout Moslem, just because of the bombings perpetrated by a few extremists?
Say it ain't so, Mr. President.
The tender faith of new recruit to progressive enlightenment hangs on your response.
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