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This essay may seem depressing, but I hope the reader will appreciate the underlying, if unspoken, optimism. Whatever Washington does, America is nothing if not preoccupied with competition and commerce. No matter how grim things may sometimes seem, optimism has a way of emerging. You might remember that President Bush met with Tony Blair in the Azores that weekend before his fateful speech giving Saddam a 72-hour ultimatum, and recall what a tense time that was. I was watching NASCAR that Sunday, and an alarm sounded and a crawler came across the TV screen that made our national priorities so plain, it was a bit scary. I jotted down the exact quote, "President George Bush warns Saddam: 'tomorrow is the moment for truth for the world.' Details after the race.