SHOOT THEM OR SHUT UP | 2003-04-05

The most famous quote from President Ronald Reagan is, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

While Reagan's Berlin Wall speech was being finalized, Reagan's staff removed that line from the speech THREE TIMES! It was blunt and unsophisticated and everybody but Reagan agreed that an American President shouldn't say a thing like that.

On Capitol Hill I worked for John Ashbrook, a conservative Republican from Ohio. John Ashbrook was a pain in the hinder parts to moderate Republicans. He was such a pain to moderates that Republican Ohio legislatures redistricted him three times trying to get rid of him.

But John Ashbrook kept winning even as his district became more and more Democratic. The reason Ashbrook kept winning even in districts designed to defeat him was because, like Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman at their best, he spoke plain English.

Right after a hurricane in Florida, Ashbrook demanded that looters be shot on sight. The local liberal newspaper went ballistic. It said that shooting looters was evil and primitive and out of date. Then they took a poll of their readers, mostly liberals. Eighty-three percent of their own readers agreed with John Ashbrook.

Shooting looters is the routine thing people have always done. It is not out of date. It is the only way to retain civilization in an emergency.

Shooting soldiers who are caught out of uniform is routine.

Using human shields gets you shot the same way.

If the Iraqis are killing American soldiers by such tactics, we should shoot any Iraqi soldiers caught out of uniform or using human shields and we should let the world know we are doing it. Do it or shut up about how they are being bad boys.

Do it like a war and you won't make any enemies you don't already have. You might even get some respect for it.

Or do it like a game. But don't play a game and call it war.