Saturday, May 31, 2008


Yesterday, a gentleman named Thane Rosenbaum took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to tell us the following:

The President Has Kept Us Safe

With President Bush-bashing still a national pastime, it's notable how much international terrorism has been forgotten, and how little credit the president has received for keeping Americans safe....

Bush's vigilance is why we haven't all been blown to smithereens since 9/11? Gosh, there's an assertion I haven't heard before. Oh, wait, yes I have -- from Bush in 2006, and from Bush again earlier this year, and from Dick Cheney, and from Lynne Cheney, and fron online Bush flack after online Bush flack, and that's just a partial list. Golly, you don't suppose the folks in Bushland or thje GOPand its satellites actually recruit people to say this, do you? Nahhh, I'm sure it's all utterly spontaneous.

And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that -- like so many other defenders of Bush who've turned up on the Journal op-ed page and in other friendly precincts on the president's behalf, Rosenbaum just so happens not to be a GOP partisan!

This is a difficult issue for me. I didn't vote for President Bush -- twice.

He's probably a Democrat! Just like Dick Morris! And Joe Lieberman! And Tammy Bruce!

Rosenbaum writes:

...Yet I live in Manhattan and I was present on Sept. 11, 2001 -- admittedly 100 blocks from the murder scene, but I was here, trembling along with the rest of America. Remember those days?

Yeah, I remember them.

Everyone on 9/12 and thereafter -- here in New York City and in cities across America -- was quite certain that the next terrorist strike was imminent.

Actually, no, we weren't. We certainly thought it was possible. But we just didn't know.

...Sarin and anthrax -- the nerve gas and poison, respectively -- entered our national vocabulary.

Er, sarin entered our vocabulary in 1995, after it was used in attacks on the Tokyo subway. And anthrax entered our vocabulary because -- while Bush was allegedly keeping us safer -- people were actually killed by it, just after 9/11. And we still haven't found the culprit or culprits.

Venturing into subways and pizza shops became a game of psychological Russian roulette -- with an Islamic twist. Macy's and Zabar's seemed like inevitable strategic targets. Our fears were no longer isolated to skyscrapers -- from now, all aspects of daily life would evoke terror.

Dude, you were afraid to go get some pizza after 9/11? I feel for you. My nerves were jangled, but it never occurred to me that people who'd attacked massive projections of Western power and wealth -- the World Trade Center, the Pentagon -- were gunning for people ordering slices from Ray's. And I didn't stop going to Zabar's, either. In fact, I saw people strolling through the Rockefeller Center plaza the night NBC received an anthrax letter, right at 30 Rock. So some people were a tad less fearful than you.

We would come to familiarize ourselves with the color-coded scale of threat conditions issued by the Department of Homeland Security. (Was it safe to go out on orange, or did we have to wait until yellow?)

We -- meaning everyone I knew -- would come to mock these color codes mercilessly. (As I understand it, it's been "orange" in New York nonstop since 9/11. The fact that I don't even know shows you how little I care -- and I doubt most New Yorkers know either.)

I could go on, but why bother? It's an old argument. I think Al Qaeda basically overshot by launching a massive attack -- of course there was going to be a response after 9/11. We were the proverbial frog in the pot of water, and AQ stupidly decided not turn up the heat gradually, so inevitably we jumped out. And, yes, some of our response was effective, though the biggest chunk of our response -- Iraq -- was an utter waste.

Generally, I think Al Qaeda suffers from a methodological flaw -- a fondness for the big and the melodramatic. I suspect we could have been the targets of small but horrifying attacks, but AQ can't resist the temptation to go huge. So far, that's fortunate for us -- what AQ wants to do is hard.

I don't give the Bushies an F or an A on this score. My grade is a C+. Some of it's working. A lot isn't.

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