12 September 2006 by Published in: General musings 30 comments

I was going to bore you with my thoughts about how Skippy Bush has so horribly mismanaged things since 9/11, but then I found Keith Olbermann’s rant. Olbermann said it much better than I could ever hope to have done myself, so here are his words, which I wholeheartedly endorse:

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and — as I discovered from those “missing posters” seared still into my soul — two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are “soft,”or have “forgotten” the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast — of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds — none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country’s wound is still open.

Five years later this country’s mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial — barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field — Mr. Lincoln said, “we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. “We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.” So we won’t.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they’re doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party — tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election — ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications — forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation’s wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President — and those around him — did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, “bi-partisanship” meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President’s words yesterday, “validate the strategy of the terrorists.”

They promised protection, and then showed that to them “protection” meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had ‘something to do’ with 9/11 is “lying by implication.”

The impolite phrase is “impeachable offense.”

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced — possibly financed by — the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you — or those around you — ever “spin” 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded — are still succeeding — as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney’s continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called “The Twilight Zone” broadcast a riveting episode entitled “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.”

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car — and only his car — starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man’s lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An “alien” is shot — but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there’s no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, “they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it’s themselves.”

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

“For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children, and the children yet unborn.”

When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American…When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have “forgotten the lessons of 9/11″… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Olbermann gave this speech at Ground Zero last night, and it appears on the MSNBC web site. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve now pushed enough of my personal political views on you, so I will move on. Enough said.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Scott Smart
    Tue 12th Sep 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Sounds like someone in love with his own voice.

  2. Jim Epperson
    Tue 12th Sep 2006 at 10:01 pm

    Don’t apologize, Eric, I agree entirely w/ Olbermann.

    JFE

  3. Tue 12th Sep 2006 at 10:25 pm

    It’s a powerful thing to hear what so many others are afraid to say. Olbermann’s 9/11 comments, and his recent dressing down of Rumsfeld, were right on the money.

    David

  4. Tue 12th Sep 2006 at 11:02 pm

    Olbermann could just have easily dressed down everyone else who’s used 9/11 for political purposes – for instance, name just about any prominent Democrat.

    The lesson is that our political system putrifies, in the end, every national tragedy we’ve ever suffered, and it will continue.

    I can only ask: how many more 9/11’s have we suffered? How many have been thwarted that we don’t know about? Bush has been, I think, a more sufferable evil than what we could have had.

    But as I said, every tragedy gets politicized by both sides of the isle eventually. They can’t help themselves. It’s repulsive, disgusting, and desecrates the memory of every innocent who simply wanted to only go to work that day and do their job. It sickens me whether it’s done by a Republican, Democrat, or anyone in between.

    Think we need term limits?

    Damn right.

    We need to pass local, state, and national laws limiting anyone serving in the same public office for more than four years. It’s only one small step – but think about it. It would change the face of politics forever. No one should be able to make a career of it – the very fact that they can, leads to much of this.

    J.D.

  5. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 2:59 am

    I know this is not the place for a lengthy give-and-take, but I feel compelled to add one more…

    Olbermann could have dressed down a prominant Democrat, but there are no prominant Democrats serving as Secretary of Defense, comparing opponents of the war to Nazi appeasers (or in Rice’s case, to Confederate slaveowners).

    The idea that Bush is a more sufferable evil is incomprehensible to me. On top of the 1000s dead on 9/11, he sent a nearly equal number of American soldiers to senseless deaths in Iraq, deposing bin Laden’s enemy and exponentially increasing the regional influence of Iran. Meanwhile bin Laden is still at large, our treasury and armed forces are stressed, and we’re no safer today than we were on 9/12.

    As for term limits, I think that’s an emotionally appealing, but short-sighted way to go. In effect, it’s a feeble surrender to the notion that people cannot be trusted to choose the right candidate. It may feel good to force out some office-holder who has an institutional lock on the office, but you should be able to vote them out anyway. The greater damage is done by cutting short the service of really outstanding public servants who do good work, and are at the peak of their political influence (or are still building it).

    David

  6. Paul Taylor
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 6:50 am

    Olbermann waxes angrily that no memorial has been erected at Ground Zero, implies that one should have been by now, and like any other issue du jour, holds Bush personally responsible.

    While I am not privy to the maze of legalities and sensibilities that must be sifted through regarding a Twin Towers memorial, I do agree with what Vanity Fair author Christopher Hitchens wrote in Monday’s Wall St. Journal regarding such commemorations and/or monuments:

    “…I shall just say that I have stood, alone or in company, with Hindus, Jews, Shiites and secularists (my own non-sectarian group) in the face of a cult of death that worships suicide and exalts murder and desecration. This has not dimmed, for me, the importance of what happened in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania. But it has made me slightly bored with those who continue to wonder, fruitlessly so far, in what fashion “we” should commemorate it.

    The time for commemoration lies very far in the future. War memorials are erected when the war is won.”

    Personally, I do believe we are in a war for civilization, and one that is far, far from over. To further quote Hitchens, “Anyone who lost their ‘innocence’ on September 11 was too naive by far…. On that day, we learned what we ought to have known already, which is that clerical fanaticism means to fight a war which can only have one victor. Afghans, Kurds, Kashmiris, Timorese and many others could have told us this from experience, and for nothing…. Does anyone suppose that an ideology that slaughters and enslaves [unbelievers] will ever be amenable to ‘us’”?

    Allow me to turn this charged issue into a Civil War-related question. Olbermann mentions Gettysburg. Yes, the Gettysburg Cemetery was “consecrated” in late 1863. But would we agree that a cemetery is not the same kind of memorial as Olbermann desires? If so, were any such memorials or monuments erected during the Civil War, or WWII for that matter? I cannot think of any. If there were none, why should this time be any different?

    Paul

  7. Rich DeCecco
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 7:37 am

    I agree that Bush has made mistakes but blaming him for the lack of a 9/11 memorial is ridiculous.

    Rich

  8. Mike Nugent
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 7:40 am

    Paul makes an excellent point regarding the monuments to the CW and other conflicts. Olbermann can’t have it both ways. Yes, the National Cemetery at Gettysburg was established 4 months after the battle but monuments to the conflict were largely erected years later, even into the early 20th century. Likewise as a HS student in the 1970’s I attended the dedication of a WWII memorial in my hometown. In the same vein, while the recoverable remains of the 9-11 victim’s have been laid to rest, establishing the appropriate memorial may still take some time.

    Of course as with the failure of state and local governments to respond following Hurricane Katrina, it’s a convenient target of opportunity for rabid Bush haters to take pot shots at him. What? There’s no memorial at the site of the WTC? Damn that George Bush!

    Yeah, right.

  9. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 7:58 am

    Imagine instead, Keith Olbermann, standing at the rim of the Petersburg crater in
    1869 making the same rant. Who’d be the target of his discontent in that scenario?

  10. Barry Summers
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 8:05 am

    Would Al Gore or Kerry done a better job? Maybe, Maybe not. They would have done the best they could have done. They would have been better, worst or the same.

    It all goes back to shoulda, woulda, coulda. I am like the guy in the Civil War all I see is the guy in front of me so I don’t know much.

    In two years we get a new boy or girl in the White House and I bet everyone will be saying Old George wasn’t all that bad after all.

    Barry Summers

  11. Ptrostle
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 8:35 am

    “Five years later this country’s wound is still open.”

    Keith – it’ll never close.

    “Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.”

    Keith – if we’re blaming Presidents and Administrations – we better go bak a lot further than Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan……. I thik they are all culpable.

    The rest of you – thanks for listening to the vent. You should see what I deleted.

  12. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 9:35 am

    That is a great post Eric. I find it funny that you quote Keith (as he’s a big Yankees fan too). Well, needless to say, I am one of those right-winger, Christian, conservative Bush supporters who took a few years to come around and realize that “my” party was just as screwed up as everyone else’s. I feel betrayed and they (Bush and Clinton Admins) have single-handedly destroyed this American citizen’s faith in the entire 2-party system. I am no longer anti-liberal… I’m anti-politician.

    Still, to say that this “War on Terror” is a complete train-wreck is tricky as we are getting things done. We have not been attacked in 5 years on American soil (so someone behind the scenes in the intelligence and security world is obviously doing their job). We have taken the fight to them (and IMO, it’s better to be blowing up things over there in their backyard instead of our own.) The rest is now meaningless to the argument… WMDs, liberation of the Iraqi people, oil interests… it is what it is – and no matter “why” we went over there, we are there, and the fight must be finished. But in reality it will never be finished. And THAT is what we have to accept.

    The problem is this “enemy.” It isn’t a foreign military or political power; it is religious fundamentalism that is based on a theology which specifically states that one should kill all infidels. Now, that’s the basic version folks, not some special “over-the-top” fanatical edition, and that is the problem. The Koran doesn’t have a “New Testament” like the Bible that adds a new doctrine of love thy neighbor. So IMO it’s this form of extreme Islam that’s declaring war on the rest of the world. There are no Christians, or Jews, or Scientologists, or Pagans, or Satanists, or Atheists etc. bombing innocent people and beheading civilians. Its Muslim extremists – they are the enemy. And you can’t negotiate, or reason with people that actually want to die in order to achieve salvation. It’s uncivilized IMO and I cannot understand why anyone would want to follow that.

    People need to accept that the world will NEVER go back to the way it was before 9/11. There will NEVER be an end to this as their hatred for us is passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, you have terrorists, breeding future terrorists. So what do you do? Kill them all? Then kill all their kids? No, you can’t, or you become as unrighteous as they are. So you do the only thing you can in good conscience – you try to fight them as best you can in the most decent and honorable way that you can, knowing that they are willing to sink to the lowest of levels, and that you will not. In other words, we could never fight them in an “equal capacity” and that has/will costs American lives. Until we are willing to suicide bomb them – they will always have the upper hand. I would liken this to the U.S. Navy having to deal with the Kamikaze pilots in WW2. How do you combat that?

    That is the dilemma that this administration is in. The border situation is ridiculous and the back-handed things that have taken place (with zero accountability) with this group are startling. The bottom line IMO is that it wouldn’t matter who was in the Oval office, Bush, Kerry whoever, they would BOTH stink it up as America’s entire political system is broke, self-serving, and corrupted beyond reproach. I see a revolution on the horizon. People are only going to put up with this for a few more years (or maybe decades), then stuff is going to start blowing up here, and then it’s all going to’ hit the fan. The idea of a “revolution” in modern America used to sound laughable to me, but if things continue to go the way they are, it’s not so laughable anymore. We are in a downward spiral and eventually somethings gotta change.

    However, the scariest statement that I’ve read in this entire thread so far was one of Barry’s when he said “… or girl in the White House.” God help us all. 🙂

  13. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 9:46 am

    Phil, you’re not alone… I did the same 🙂

    I think we’ve had a good exchange here – civilized and well-reasoned. There are obviously many divergent views. As others have said, it’s easy to blame Bush for everything. Just as there was an astonishing amount of hate for Clinton by the Republicans, today there’s an unbelievable amount for Bush by Democrats.

    As regards Iraq, one thing cannot be denied – those Democrats who saw the same intel came to the same conclusions. I watch a lot of news, and can’t forget how Kerry, Pelosi, and the multitude of others were screaming and drooling spit over how Saddam had to go. Now, of course, they all scream for Bush’s head, as if they are esclusively permitted to live on hindsight but no one else is granted the same privilege. And I’m not entirely convinced that the issue of Iraq’s culpability is settled, despite what any in the media say (I don’t mean just 9/11).

    David, by commenting that Bush is a more sufferable evil, what I mean is that I fear how Kerry or Gore would have acted. As a voter, all I could do at the time was make as informed an opinion as possible about how I think one or the other would act in the future. That’s what everyone did. I honestly don’t think Gore would have taken any military action after 9/11. Just my opinion. As remember all of Kerry’s comments? I think Kerry would have died in office of a stroke after arguing with himself endlessly in a mirror, deciding what to do.

    This is a war like no other in history. Our enemy doesn’t wear uniforms. And they don’t fight for simply national pride. They want to kill us and sacrifice themselves simply because we don’t believe in their satanic god. They will use any means to do so. This war, I fear, will last until the end of time. You see, the only way it will stop is when one side or the other is wiped off the face of the earth. The planet will either become 100% devoted to radical Islam – or not. That’s it. As long as one of “them” lives, it will go on.

    Scary, isn’t it? Anyone see any other end to it?

    J.D.

  14. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 11:10 am

    JD,

    There will never be an end to it until the US changes its policies to ones that they approve.  And I think we all know that’s not going to happen.  So, that means that this so-called “war on terror” will never end.  And the longer it goes on the more Big Brother will erode our civil rights–IF WE LET IT HAPPEN.

    I personally have no problem with the idea of taking the war to them. However, let’s fight the right enemy. Iraq never was–that much is now clear–and no matter how Skippy may try to justify the Iraqi war, there simply never was any justification for it. If we had devoted those same resources to taking out bin Laden, he wouldn’t still be around taunting us now.

    While the Clinton administration may have missed the opportunity to take him out before 9/11, the sole responsibility for the post-9/11 screw-up lies in one place and one place only: Don Rumsfeld and Skippy Bush.

    You know my thoughts on George W. Bush. Calling him stupid is an insult to stupid people.  I’ve met sheep who could outwit him. Susan’s worn dresses with higher IQ’s. This country deserves so much better. The question is: who is that person?

    Eric

  15. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 11:18 am

    Barry,

    I personally can assure you that from my perspective 2008 cannot come soon enough, and that the best thing that could ever happen to this country will be the day that Skippy Bush and his crew are forced to leave office. Perhaps then we will be able to retrieve some of our civil liberties. There will never, ever be a day when I will pine for his return.

    Eric

  16. Dave
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 12:12 pm

    It must hurt to know that idiot bush beat the dems twice( 2000,2004). You guys being so smart and all.

  17. Sean Dail
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 12:52 pm

    I was wondering when some twit like “Dave” would show up. He’s the political version of the “scoreboard” sports fan. Must be nice to live in a world where you hang on to the guy you picked even when he turns out to be at best a complete incompetent and at worst truly evil.

    George Bush is the worst thing that has happened to this country in many, many years. And you’ll never convince me that Gore and Kerry would not have been light years’ better, though they likely would not have been “great” presidents.

  18. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 1:00 pm

    Actually, Dave,

    But for the interference of the Republican Supreme Court, I doubt that dim bulb would have taken office at all. Let’s keep in mind that he lost the popular vote in 2000…..

    Eric

  19. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Eric,

    Several other Presidents in history lost the popular vote, yet still took office – that’s the way our Constitution was written 🙂 The election is based on state returns, not national – let’s remember a little war was fought over similar ideals 🙂

    Seriously, you know I’m a die-hard conservative, yet I’ve voiced my reservations over what’s happened since 9-11. I too wish we had put all our resources into lighting up the Afghani countryside. bin Laden should have been roasting on a spit by now. But thinking this out further – I’m also not naive enough to think that even if all the top bozos in his or any other terrorist organization were taken out, that much of this would stop. The terrorists don’t just want policy change – see the last videotape released to Al Jazeera – they want us to convert. They want the whole world to convert. It’s been this same problem for literally thousands of years, and until the last radical is vaporized it won’t stop.

    We’ll see what we get in 2008. I too hope it’s better – anyone who’s convinced that everything today is the best it can be is living under a rock. There’s lost of “shoulda’s” – if Bush I had taken out Saddam 15 years ago… if Clinton had spent more time in the Oval office instead of the Oral office, he might have found time to get bin Laden… and Skippy shouldn’t have had another thought in his brain until he finished the job.

    J.D.

  20. Dave Powell
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 4:52 pm

    I have my own strong opinions on this administration, and they do mirror Eric’s, mostly for the shocking – even deliberate – wrongheadedness about starting and executing the war in Iraq, despite the best advice.

    However, that political debate can be had in plenty of places.

    A couple of things strike me about our current state of the nation, and how, as historians, we might see some lessons from the past coming back to haunt us…

    First, nothing will convince me that the state of our politics is any worse – or better – than it has been in the past. years of wading through period newspapers in search of primary sources on Chickamauga has also let me troll through the political cesspool that was national and state politics in the 1860s, where mudslinging was a fine art. I am fully confident that we can survive the current two-party system, if we survived that mess. Just spend some time reading the Brough/Vallandigham election smears, and you will see what I mean. Things were far more partisan in 1863 than I have ever seen in modern politics.

    We were, however, a bit tougher-skinned as voters back then.

    The second thing that strikes me is how reckless the rush to war in Iraq will appear in history – akin to the fire-eaters pushing Davis into a war with the North no matter what, in the firm belief that it would be, at worst, a one battle conflict with little real cost.

    The reckless plunge to war is almost never a good idea – because it is always sold with the caveat that it will be cheap, easy, and successful.

    Dave Powell

  21. Paul Taylor
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 5:05 pm

    Lincoln went into a war in 1861 publicly proclaiming that the war was about the preservation of the Union. With the exception of the radical New England abolitionist crowd, very few of those in authority would say that it was a war primarily for the liberation of an oppressed people. Least of all Lincoln, who feared that half of the AOP’s officer corps would resign if he made such a pronouncement.

    Over 2½ years later and with support for the war wavering in the north, Lincoln decided to change, or add to the stated war aims; that being the abolition of slavery, but first he needed a victory at Antietam before he dared proceed.

    Lincoln’s alleged abuses of civil rights have also been documented, perhaps the most famous being his suspension of the writ of habeus corpus.

    Perhaps not as well known is his administration’s refusal at the beginning of the war to acknowledge Confederate soldiers and seamen as legitimiate prisoners of war. As with the British in the Revolution, Federal authorities initially treated Rebel prisoners as nothing more than common criminals engaged in treason against the state. (see Sanders’ “While in the Hands of the Enemy” for a discussion of this).

    IMO, each of these historical scenarios has a comparable one in today’s war on terror. While I am not going to compare the wisdom or character of Bush to the historical Lincoln, I think an argument can be made that both men faced similar challenges and legal issues, not to mention over-the-top hatred from the other side of the political aisle. In Lincoln’s case, history has decided the wisdom of his actions, to the point that he is mytholigized by many as the nation’s greatest president. Of course, history will also decide the wisdom of W’s decisions. At any rate, I do believe that BOTH men acted with the nation’s best interest at heart.

    Paul

  22. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 8:15 pm

    Dave,

    I’m with you.

    Eric

  23. J. Avalon
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 8:55 pm

    First, let me extend my admiration to everyone who posted for conducting a discourse on such a volatile subject in such a civil way. Suffice it to say, I fall in Eric’s camp when it comes to my opinion of that man in the White House.
    But I have a simple question. Some on this thread, along with Bush and Cheney, claim that they’re doing a great job with homeland security and that the proof is that we’ve gone 5 years without another attack by foreign terrorists within America. OK, so according to that the following is true:
    There was an attack on the WTC in 1993. Then there wasn’t another attack by foreign terrorists in America until 2001. Clinton was President for seven of those 8 years. Therefore – at this point, Clinton protected our homeland better than Bush has, correct? Seven years versus five. Just a point I often think should be raised but never is.

  24. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Joe,

    What an excellent point! That’s a really interesting analysis, and it’s one I certainly had never even considered.

    I want to echo Joe’s sentiment. I’m really proud of all of you for engaging in a very civil and productive discussion about a very difficult topic without any rancor. Keep up the good work.

    Eric

  25. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Well, Joe, perhaps that’s because bin Laden needed those years to plan the 9-11 attacks. It’s been all over the news and in documentaries that planning took place in the camps and flight schools for 5-6 years.

    Dave, you’re so right about the political climate – over the past year or so, especially for Eric’s and my Stuart book, I’ve looked at hundreds of period newspaper articles. Primarily for movement and battle topics, but you can help but get sucked in by the headlines on the front page regarding politics.

    Can you imagine if they had our media (TV, internet, radio, etc) back then?

    J.D.

  26. Mike Nugent
    Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I guess the terrorist bombing of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998) and the terrorist attack on the USS Cole (2000) during Clinton’s presidency don’t count since Joe specified attacks by foreign terrorists “in” America. Careful wordsmithing aside, the Bush bashers all seem to suffer from a collective memory lapse regarding Clinton’s inept bumbling as Commander in Chief during those incidents, not to mention his gross mishandling of Somalia and the American lives that little misadventure cost (and the contribution it had to the buildup of resentment and hate towards the US from radical Muslims.)

    Clinton did a better job of protecting us?! Gimme a break!

  27. Wed 13th Sep 2006 at 10:18 pm

    Mike,

    I concede your points about Clinton, but surely you can’t believe that Skippy Bush hasn’t been an inept bumbler as Commander in Chief who has grossly mishandled virtually every foreign policy issue that’s arisen, can you?

    Eric

  28. Mike Nugent
    Thu 14th Sep 2006 at 9:07 am

    Despite my generally right of center viewpoints, I’m not happy with the foreign policy decisions from the Bush administration either. However when given the choice of taking action or doing nothing, I’ll choose taking action every time. Clinton consistently did nothing in the face of a growing terrorist threat by Islamic militants. I’m not so blind or so partisan that I’ll try to lay all the blame on his doorstep, but IMO the stage for our current situation was largely set in the ’90s, during his watch. I disagree completely with the assertion that “Clinton protected our homeland better than Bush”.

  29. Dave Powell
    Thu 14th Sep 2006 at 9:58 am

    Politics then vs. now:

    For example, while skimming Ohio papers, I learned that our first Black president was not Clinton at all – it was Lincoln.:)

    As for ‘do nothing’

    I think it is useful to remember that prior to 9/11, neither side took the terror threat that seriously. The actions Clinton did take, for example, were widely dismissed as ‘wag the dog’ scenarios, essentially hamstringing future acts. I don’t find Clinton a very compelling or useful president, but I think it is indulging in a significant degree of ex-post facto rationalization to suggest that he was the problem.

    A number of the men “in the know” and front and center for Terrorism do actually rate Clinton as more pro-active on terror than the mythology suggests. Richard Clarke is an example of one of the most vocal of these men.

    The facts clearly indicate that the new admin continued this indifference – even accellerated it – when they took office in 2000. Rice as NSA actually downgraded Clarke’s role, and removed a seperate terrorism assessment from the daily briefing. Ashcroft re-assigned FBI agents to new priorities, etc. etc. There are plenty of examples.

    what this shows is that BOTh sides of the aisle did not consider Terrorism to be the paramount threat, but that by 1999, the Clinton White house was taking it very seriously, only to be largely blown off by the incoming regime.

    As for taking action, time will tell. Having studied military history all my life, I believe that I can spot a strategic blunder when I see one. Iraq is a strategic blunder. I’d much rather Bush had done nothing than do the wrong thing.

    Dave Powell

  30. Thu 14th Sep 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Dave,

    Amen, brother.

    Eric

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