Investing in America

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Cowardly. That's the word many people are using to describe the evil acts of September 11. Were they cowardly? In the sense that we were sucker punched, or jumped from behind, perhaps. But in an important sense, no. Rather, they were cold, calculating, committed and thought of us as the cowards.

They undoubtedly thought that Americans, softened by years of prosperity, would recoil in fear. They assumed that the public would pressure the president to retreat from our support of Israel, so as to not invite future attacks.

They thought our military would respond by bombing an outpost, or factory, etc., as we have done many times in the recent past - a so-called proportional response. A one-day event that they could weather, hiding out in some mountain bunker, harbored by their friends. They thought that they could act without consequence. They chose wrong - wrong country and wrong president.

Bush seems to be readying himself for a sustained, disproportional response. And the public appears to be behind him, united in a steely determination not to be cowed by evil men who hide in the shadows. For too long we have talked loudly and carried a Nerf bat. That all changes now. This is no time for criminal investigations, or trials, or surgical strikes. This is the time for rolling thunder. This is the time for all who would conduct terror to either face their maker, or to spend the rest of their short existence running for their lives.

The president is going to need help accomplishing this. Congress can help by dropping partisan considerations and funding this war at whatever levels the president deems necessary. They should also fast track the appointments of the people he has nominated and desperately needs, such as an ambassador to the U.N. If we are to have sustained international support for our actions, we need a permanent voice there.

Yet while the president will do what is necessary to end this scourge, many Americans are asking; what can I do to help? People from Charleston to Dallas to Seattle wait in lines three hours long just to give blood. Middle school children initiate fund drives for the American Red Cross. Strangers randomly stop to embrace and sing "America" and "Amazing Grace." The American flag is being displayed on homes and businesses alike.

Is there something else you can do? First we must ask; why the World Trade Center? Why the heart of the nation's financial district? These vicious acts were calculated to wound us psychologically and cripple us financially. They were meant to take a stalling economy over the cliff, and to send the markets into an all out panic.

The terrorists obviously don't understand what makes our economic system work. Capitalism is not a few people or even a large building full of financiers. Capitalism is ordinary people doing their jobs; consumers, investors, businessmen and women, all investing in America. Still, the terrorists might be able to enjoy a small measure of success if the markets tumble, if people decide to sell, withdraw and hide. They must not succeed.

It is time for all Americans to help defend us economically. And my colleague Bruce Bartlett has come up with a splendid idea for everyone to do just that. In addition to symbolic gestures of faith and patriotism, such as prayer vigils and dressing in red, white, and blue, let's all do something more tangible. If you have the means, buy a share of stock as soon as the markets open. This will show confidence in the soundness of the American economy and will show the world and any would-be terrorists that they cannot break the American economy.

To all Americans, show your patriotism and support your country. Invest in America.