Carol Platt Liebau: Home at Last!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Home at Last!

It's great to be home -- especially when, at some point during a trip, it's crossed your mind that you might not get there.

Of course, I'm talking about Wednesday's brief alarm on Capitol Hill. I was preparing to enter Russell Senate Office Building to visit my friends on the Bond staff when I saw people running, and a Capitol Hill policeman instructed me to "get away from the building! Now! Run!"

At the time, neither I nor anyone else knew that the threat was a small plane. That wouldn't have been as immediately threatening in terms of personal safety, at least for anyone who, like me, was at some distance from the Capitol (unless, of course, it carried anthrax or a nuclear or biological bomb). For my part, I thought that perhaps a massive explosive had been planted somewhere in the Capitol's vicinity.

In such situations, it does no good to lose one's head, so I didn't. But as I moved with all deliberate speed away from the Russell Senate Office Building, with a mass exodus all around me, it seemed entirely possible that the unthinkable was about to happen.

It's a funny feeling -- yes, there's some fear, but even more, there's incredulity ("can this actually be happening to me?"). It was a powerful reminder that we live, in a sense, on borrowed time . . . that real tragedy could, realistically, strike at any time in the nation's Capitol. Earlier in the week, I had been stunned by how different life on Capitol Hill has become -- there's an omnipresent shadow of unease resulting from the massive security that's become a way of life there. For a while on Wednesday, it seemed that all the unease had been not only justified, but prescient.

But once the immediate crisis passed, people began to move back toward the Senate office buildings, and normalcy reasserted itself. Yes, I think it was Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) (a real profile in courage) who was standing with some staffers under a tree, bug-eyed with fear. And of course, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) immediately began giving a television interview.

If Armaggedon ever happened, here would be the press coverage -- "Breaking News: World to End in Five Minutes, Schumer Dismayed."


Blogger Bachbone said...

Have you considered that some Members of Congress may not take the threat of terrorism seriously unless a HOB or SOB is attacked? It's one thing for NYC and the Pentagon to be hit, but being aimed at personally narrows one's focus, as they say. I pray it never comes to that, but when we have bleeding heart liberals who still don't get the threat, I wonder what it will take to lure them to rational thought.

1:35 PM  

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