GOES TO WAR
DWIGHT VS. WASHINGTON
Rednecks to Saddam:
Get yourself a tractor!
By PATRICK McFADDEN
On the eve of war, the capital of the most powerful nation in human history was brought to its knees by a farmer named Dwight.
Dwight W. Watson, you see, is a tobacco farmer from North Carolina.
I should say, Dwight was a tobacco farmer from North Carolina. As it currently stands, Dwight's immediate prospects consist of getting accustomed to confined spaces and meeting interesting new people affiliated with the penal system.
To protest the plight of the nation's tobacco farmers, ol' Dwight drove his John Deere tractor, which he claimed was loaded with explosives, right smack dab into the middle of a pond on the National Mall. This promptly commenced a 48-hour standoff with police, which closed vital traffic arteries, snarled rush hour commutes, and made a mockery of security precautions.
Anti-aircraft batteries and helicopter patrols around the city, and this guy parks a tractor right on the Mall. Nice.
Dwight is generally referred to as "Tractor Man" by media types. He has also been called a lot of other things, but I try to keep it clean.
Tractor Man claimed he was willing to surrender peacefully if treated with respect. Right. Respect? Gotcha, Dwight.
(You notice how the really farcical lone wolf types are never Sally from New York? No. Dwight. From North Carolina. I'm betting huge that Dwight's favorite sport is stock car racing. Hellfire, boy, I do like me some NASCAR. Southerners love me. I digress.)
Ol' Dwight was a tough un', too, fearless in his protest of inadequate tobacco subsidies. "I will not surrender," said Dwight. "They can blow my ass out of the water," he added thoughtfully.
Now, in the event you are unfamiliar with the D.C. area, I pause for a moment to tell you something about Washingtonians. By and large, they are a nice group. Intelligent, well-informed, reasonably friendly.
But, if you want to get on their bad side, you just have to mess around with their commute. Terrorism, the onset of war, the economy, who's still standing on "American Idol"-- you know, the great issues of the day? All of that fades into irrelevance when we start talking about traffic. Peace protesters who try to disrupt rush hour are in serious danger of being run down in these parts, even by certified granola-crunching tree huggers. Once, when some desperate person was contemplating suicide by jumping off a bridge and the situation was strangling the upcoming rush hour commute, a co-worker said to me, "My God, why doesn't someone just PUSH HIM OFF?!"
So, when Dwight starts talking about how, "they can blow my ass out of the water," your average Washingtonian, who has just spent an hour and a half in traffic staring at taillights and pounding his head on the steering wheel, asks, "well, can they do it TODAY, you redneck loon?"
Most of the people I've talked to feel that what the situation called for was a little police brutality. The Park Police, who managed to arrange for Dwight's peaceful surrender, are being universally condemned for not adopting the 50-cent solution of shooting Dwight dead in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. Like I said, friendly people.
Meanwhile, somewhere in a bunker in Iraq, Saddam and his boys are laughing this one up, right?
"Ha! They are on elevated threat alert code burnt sienna, and this halfwit farmer paralyzes their capital city? Quick, Qusay! Make plans for an armada of tractors! The charge of the John Deere brigade! We promise the Mother of All Traffic Jams!"
"No, no. Make the tractors FRENCH!"
Thanks a lot, Dwight.
©2003 by Patrick McFadden. The illustration is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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