I find this a bit troubling:
On the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks that claimed over 3,000 innocent lives, 80% of Americans agree that the attacks changed America forever. However, they are divided as to whether those changes have been for better or worse.
A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 37% say the nation has changed for the better while 43% say it has changed for the worse. Only 7% say the nation was not changed by the events of that horrible day.
These numbers are similar to the assessment given a year ago when 38% say better and 47% worse.
I suppose there are several rational explanations for the fact that more than a third of Americans think America is better since 9/11 -- people hear the question and think, "Yes, we're certainly better off than we were that day," or think 9/11 has made the country pull together in a good way, or think it's made us get serious about threats we were overlooking.
But I worry that some of the positive results have to do with a feeling that 9/11 was an inherently good thing.
Surely some people believe it was what a wicked nation deserved. And since we know that a fair number of people believe God intervened to make Bush president in 2000 ("During those 30 days that we had to wait to see who our next President was going to be, there was a battle royal going on in the heavenlies.... I believe in my heart that God allowed George W. Bush to become our 43rd President to not only be the political leader of the United States, but as a man that openly professed to being a follower of Jesus Christ, to be used by God to exercise spiritual leadership in key areas to turn our nation back to God"), you'd imagine these some of these people also believe 9/11 was God's way of getting St. George's holy light out from under the bushel.
Then there are the people I really worry about, the ones who, even though they'd never admit it, like the fear and anxiety and sense of danger of the post-9/11 era.
I alluded to this just after Rudy Giuliani's convention speech, then noticed that the headline in the next day's New York Post was IT'S 9/11, which even more than at the time seems almost like a triumphant declaration. A couple of days later, Paul Krugman quoted the Chris Hedges book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning in relation to the Bush campaign:
War, Mr. Hedges says, plays to some fundamental urges. "Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours," he says, "is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that war alone is able to deliver." When war psychology takes hold, the public believes, temporarily, in a "mythic reality" in which our nation is purely good, our enemies are purely evil, and anyone who isn't our ally is our enemy.
This state of mind works greatly to the benefit of those in power.
Maybe Kerry couldn't beat Bush even with the perfect campaign. Maybe too many voters are perversely pleased that we can't go back to September 10.