DECEMBER 8-11, 1941 | 2000-12-09

Right now, all the Democrats and Republicans are talking "what ifs" and regretting dumb moves.

The Democratic official who put in the butterfly ballots in Florida probably hates herself right now, as do millions of others in her party. "What if she hadn't done that?" is often on every Gore partisan's mind.

Most of us have been there. We loyal Confederates all have a hundred "what ifs" from the Civil War. All of us know many examples of incredible stupidity on the Confederate side, and wonder what might have happened if this or that had not happened.

"What if" and stupidity are home territory to us Confederates.

But the most extreme example of pure stupidity I am aware of in history happened almost exactly fifty nine years ago today, and it had nothing to do with today's election or with the Old Confederacy.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. For President Roosevelt and Churchill, this was a dream come true. Roosevelt called on Congress to declare war on Germany, Italy, and Japan, all three.

But on December 8, 1941,Congress handed him a major defeat by declaring war ONLY AGAINST JAPAN.

America was mad at Japan, and wanted to fight the attackers of Pearl Harbor.

Nobody should have known better than Adolf Hitler what a major boon it would have been NOT to have to fight America. After all, he had been a front-line soldier in the German army that American power crushed in World War I.

So did Hitler do the sane thing, and thank his lucky stars that America was out to crush Japan, and not him?

No way.

On December 11, Hitler performed what was probably the biggest piece of fatal stupidity in history. After Americans had refused to make war on Germany in defiance of Roosevelt, Hitler gave Roosevelt exactly what he wanted. He declared war on the United States!

On December 11, 1941, Hitler declared war on the United States, which had refused to declare war on him. It was on that date, not in 1945, that Hitler committed suicide.