An “existential threat” is a thing that threatens one’s existence. On the Sunday morning of December 7, 1941, as soon as John Daley reported the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all America realized not just that we were at war, but our very existence had been put into the line. And our government concurred. Arm in arm America turned on a dime, until it was over.

The same thing occurred after 9-11. Well, almost. Within only a few minutes after the first airliner descended on the North Tower at 8:56, almost all of America in the eastern time zones were watching the television. In the western zones, people were getting phone calls, to get out of bed and watch. By mid-morning all of America knew and felt what their parents and grandparents had felt sixty years earlier. America was at war and it was a war for its very existence. And it was supposed to go on until it was over.

Only it ended prematurely, as we now know.

My evidence on this third existential episode is more anecdotal. But on the morning after the beheading of James Foley by ISIS was described on the nightly news, at which my wife sat transfixed, she told me she couldn’t sleep at all. All she could think about was ISIS, that beheading, and the fact that they had recruited and trained hundreds of Americans to bring their jihad back here.

At the end of the day she told me a half dozen of her colleagues at work had had the same fitful night, the same nightmarish concerns.  And so it was at the check out line at her supermarket. And the men’s locker room at the Y. These are not people who are news junkies, like us. My wife thinks the Drudge Report is a health advisory newsletter.

With children and grandchildren scattered around the country, this ISIS threat hits home in ways Pearl Harbor and 9-11 never could. First, we can see it coming. We sense it is coming. (When the survival sensors go up in regular people, never pooh-pooh them.) ISIS has touched an instinct that hardened pragmatic news observers may no longer be able to see. So take heed. Of course the people  didn’t see 9-11 coming, although our government should have…for months. But the new government moved quickly, under the guidance of George W Bush and Richard Cheney, to fix that shortcoming, and to insure the sorts of bureaucratic lapses between agencies  never happened again. Some even say, me among them, they had gone too far, for every time I sneeze while in my email program, a voice in my computer says “Bless you.” But overall, Bush and Cheney launched a war against terror around the globe, and countries everywhere were none too happy to oblige.

By 2004 the war against terror had turned political, and the Democrat Party took whatever side Bush and Cheney was against. (Barack Obama even admitted this to Robert Gates.) Dem’s don’t do this unless they think the existential aspects of the war had been won, so they could afford to become political, and by 2006 they had seized control of the Congress, ostensibly on behalf of a war-weary nation who either no longer believed or had been seduced into believing the existential threat was over….and we had defeated Al Qaeda. So why were we still in Iraq, we were asked? And besides, we hadn’t captured bin Laden and he was in the tribal territories of Afghanistan, and the real war should have been there.  In fact, other than causing the tides to recede, this was the extent of Barack Obama’s foreign policy platform in 2008; make war Afghanistan, not Iraq.

By 2011, after seven years, we had removed all our troops in Iraq, declared her a safe and secure democracy (we wouldn’t make that declaration for Germany or Japans for thirty years…actually a universally recognized standard time for incubating new democracies), and we declared Al Qaeda vanquished. In fact, at the Democrat National Convention, where he was re-nominated, Obama did a victory dance on Al Qaeda’s bones (in a very shallow grave, it seems) just days before a jayvee branch of Al Qaeda shot up the American consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans, including the ambassador…proving the intelligence and command and control incompetence of the Clinton administration was no match for this keen-witted group  of bean counters in the White House in 2012….although a Clinton was there on that watch as well.

Is ISIS Al Qaeda under a new name? For a bunch that is still funneling millions to ACORN around the country, only under new names, you’d think they could figure out ISIS’s game here. The “local-branch of Al Qaeda” dodge hasn’t worked. Now, the new line they tell us about ISIS is that “we knew about them and have been watching this bunch all along. Boy they sure did grow up fast.” You bet they did, for from January to June, they went from teenagers in Lakers jerseys, to Jabbar, Wilt the Stilt, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Kobe Bryant. Damn!

So here’s our problem.

The American people are beginning to see ISIS as an existential threat. But will the government? The Big Bang optics of 9-11 are not likely to occur again. But what if the Lakers (ISIS) put in all-guard offense and try small ball? Malls, public places, schools, (especially in gun free zones), MacDonald’s, all ending with the ubiquitous “Allah Ahkbar” and the pulling of the pin on the hand grenade? Will the government try to cover these up, calling them work place shootings, as they did at Ft Hood?

How will they handle an American public that can no longer send their kids out in public, or go to the grocery store.? And are mad as hell about it?

If government can no longer protect us here, and I submit (to all out friends in the northeast and the Bay area) that they cannot accomplish this without dismissing political correctness, will America then have to resort to armed caravans just to go to Piggly Wiggly to get the groceries, each with a revolver strapped on their hip and a Winchester cradled across the arms? Will we revert to Dodge City, where every man (and woman) can’t go out safely without the bark on?

In the end, will this government see ISIS as the existential threat, or the People?

If you think this is fanciful dreaming, think again. Despite the 4000 losses, the American people would have been willing to keep soldiers in Iraq had the government made them aware of the existential stakes, which never did really go away. Almost, but at just the last moment, we gave them a a second life. For whatever reason, the government of Obama told America that threat no longer existed. Clearly they lied, or, as also suggested, they are incredibly incompetent. Or both.

Considering the southern border was personally opened by Obama for the past six years, (which may be shut down rather quickly after Congress returns…that will be an early test as to whose side Congress is on) I doubt the people will put up with this nonsense for very long. The war is over there, where 90% of ISIS is all-bunched up, so it would seem we need to try to end it there, rather than here. I’d like to say we need a new management team to pull this off, for two years is a long time to wait. This government will have to do an about-face very quickly.

The people are on a war footing now.