The Nation's Pulse

Topical Storm

Lessons from Ernesto, formerly known as a hurricane.

By 9.1.06

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NORTH MIAMI BEACH -- Hurricane Ernesto, Al Gore, John Mark Karr and the Democratic Party were all on my mind Wednesday, and a good time was had by all. I am the resident hurricane expert at The American Spectator (e.g., here and here), although I have lost four trees and a roof covering storms while the mag's insurance carrier runs for cover from coverage. So when Ernesto began making threatening noises, I had to lay in an extensive supply of pens and ink. But all that blustery wind turned out to be nothing but bluster and Ernesto became a mere tropical depression: first time I experienced ecstasy through depression. Although I was left over with nought whereof to write, I was not left overwrought in the night.

Surprisingly, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center did not share my mood. He had predicted that Ernesto would pass Cuba, pick up steam and come roaring for our jugular. When this failed to come to pass, he was quoted: "As a homeowner I am happy but as a forecaster I am not."

Wow! This is a captivating idea. The human being can become so locked into the honing of his craft that the consequences of his being correct fade in comparison to the importance of getting it right. Something like the point Pierre Boulle was trying to make in The Bridge Over the River Kwai, where the British officer held in a Japanese prisoner camp became so focused on building his bridge that he forgot he was assisting the enemy.

Which led me to Al Gore. What if the world stubbornly bucks his scenario and refuses to incinerate? Years go by and the mercury simply will not rise. Does he sit in his alchemist's lair surrounded by computers spewing complex formulae while he shouts "Up, damned gage, up!"? One can imagine him in his dotage sitting in Siberia, little icicles dripping from his beard, while he tries to understand where he went wrong in his calculations.

Indeed if such is human nature, there may well emerge an auxiliary benefit from the seemingly futile arrest and extradition last week of John Mark Karr, in hopes of trying him for the killing of Jon Benet Ramsey. (Incidentally, he is now being extradited from Colorado back to California for child pornography charges. According to a loophole described here in a previous column, he could actually block that from happening, since it was California who technically extradited him to Colorado, so they cannot claim that he fled the state to avoid prosecution.)

What could conceivably happen is that the real killer gets trapped in the land of ire, green with envy for the attention -- UNJUSTLY -- showered on this pretender. There is a dark pleasure in visualizing that guy in his hidey-hole, festering, stewing, boiling over with frustration. After all his cleverness, his subtleness, in perpetrating the crime and avoiding detection some simpering wannabe gets to bask in the glory that is rightfully his own. Some lemon shows up to steal his limelight?! Unthinkable. It may be time to come forward and show how backward the police really have been.

Finally we come, as we always seem to when considering such motley casts, to the Democratic Party. Talk about making an early call and then sticking to it against mounting evidence. Talk about becoming so wedded to your position that you are prepared to divorce your interests from those of the American People. Talk about needing victory for the party so badly that one seeks defeat for our armed forces in Iraq. These are some of the decidedly unpleasant traits we have observed of late in our friends across the aisle.

In Israel they say: "Better to be smart than to be right." It is time for all Americans to put our nation above our party, our safety above our ego, our values above our livelihoods. We have cultivated a great deal of good and goodness in this country, but a beautiful plant can only grow in a serene environment. We can debate, and passionately, without losing sight of the unifying principles. Good news for the nation must always be good news for us, our families, our careers and our political parties. Just as everyone condemns an American who works for al Qaeda with a bomb, we must beware the American who works for al Qaeda with indifference -- or with the need to be proven right in his prediction.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.