Wednesday, February 04, 2004

If you actually remember September 11, 2001...

...then you'll find that this Slate article about a Bush/Cheney campaign rally makes your blood boil.

Both Bush rallies that I've attended emphasize the idea that the president merits re-election as a reward for past performance, as much as—or even more than—any promise of future results. "On Sept. 11, when this nation faced in many respects the greatest threat to our security, President Bush stood forward, led this nation with clarity and with strength, which has earned him the admiration and appreciation of the overwhelming majority of Americans, and I believe has earned him another term as president of the United States of America," McCain said in Nashua.

Right. As I remember it, Bush and Cheney were practically nowhere to be found on that day. Let us remember that Bush spent twenty minutes reading stories to schoolchildren in Florida after he was informed of the attack (way to grasp the importance of the situation, genius). Then Bush promptly sank from sight, surfacing only to read canned "tough"-sounding speeches which were clearly scripted by his handlers. For real leadership, we had to turn to Mayor Giuliani, who was working his ass off in plain sight rallying the rescue teams in New York, and yet made time for regular press conferences to reassure the public. His remarks at these conferences were clearly unscripted and (in contrast to the preceding years of Giuliani's mayorship) managed a balance of gravity, dignity, concern, and confidence rarely equalled in recent political history.

Bush, by contrast, sounded like his usual drawstring-puppet self. I recall watching his appearances on television on that day, and the days that followed, with my roommates in Manhattan, and feeling a mixture of alarm and contempt. This man, who was clearly having trouble even remembering his scripted lines, was in charge of our nation in this time of crisis?

And Bush's administration has scarcely improved in its subsequent actions w.r.t. the events of 9/11. They oust the Taliban --- and then forget to invest the resources required to build a stable democracy in Afghanistan. They invade Iraq in a fashion calculated to annoy our allies and draw resources away from the war on terror. They undermine our international credibility with distorted intelligence. They appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate 9/11, but obstruct and underfund that investigation at every turn.

Anyone who actually remembers September 11, as opposed to the September 11TM All-Purpose Political Juice Machine which the Bushites have been using to squeeze Americans' emotional reactions ever since that day, can only regard Bush's handling of the entire affair and its aftermath as shameful, not admirable.

(The contrast between Bush and Giuliani is hardly surprising if you compare Giuliani's biography with the miserable failure that is Bush's life. For all his flaws, Giuliani is a man who possesses intelligence and at least a minimally adult level of emotional maturity. He graduated magna cum laude from NYU law school and worked his way up through the legal system as an ace attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice --- a job where you can't be a slouch, and Daddy's connections can't get you ahead and can't bail you out if you blow it. Bush's slacker-rich-kid extended adolescence and various failed businesses are, of course, well-documented.)