It's another 9/11, and I'm sick of having to structure my life in any way at all around the obsessions of those two doppelganger attention junkies, George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. A pair of rich, spoiled scions, they both got it into their heads at some point in their lives that could literally transform the world ideologically. Although both of them can still do serious harm to a country, it's not enough for them -- they want the planet. Neither can admit that he's inadequate to the task and it will never happen -- Bush won't convert the whole world to "freedom" (read: pro-Americanism) and bin Laden won't convert the whole world to his extreme form of Islam.
This week, Bush has staged an elaborate dog-and-pony show in Washington, starring a surrogate (it's has actually been in out-of-town tryouts all summer), while bin Laden has released two videotapes, the most recent featuring a 9/11 hijacker. A Forbes.com story on the second of those videotapes is headlined "Bin Laden Tape: Timing Over Substance." That could just as easily be the headline for Petraeus's attempt to portray shifts of essentially identical levels of violence from place to place within Iraq as progress -- or for the more-of-the-same speech Bush will give Thursday night. It's all about timing -- legislative calendar timing, 9/11 anniversary timing. There's no substantial news.
Bush and bin Laden both love death, as long as it doesn't happen to them personally -- they both get moist-eyed when talking about the soldiers they've inspired whose lives they've wasted. Both will probably rain down fresh death and destruction soon, Bush on Iran and bin Laden somewhere in the West -- and they're both too stupid to realize that this will just redouble the survivors' feelings of loyalty to their country.
Or maybe they do both understand this. Maybe the two of them don't really want to take over the world as much as they want to knock it off stride on a regular basis and make people fear every morning when they wake up that this is the day they'll do it again. That's what really makes these two spoiled brats, these two phony populists (Bush on his ranch, bin Laden in his cave) world-historical. That's what makes us pay attention to them. And that may be all they want.