Friday, December 05, 2008


It was inevitable that one of the key talking points of the ongoing "Bush legacy project" would be that, thanks to Bush, we were "safe" after 9/11 -- but if I were Peggy Noonan and I wantred to write about a "safe" America in December 2008, I think I might have hesitated before beginning my discussion this way:

To drive through the suburbs of Northern Virginia is to marvel still at the widespread wealth, the mansions and mini-mansions that did not exist a quarter-century ago and that now thicken the woods and hills....

The other night, the big houses were strung with glittering white Christmas lights -- not all different colors, as we do in other suburbs, but stately white -- and from the Georgetown Pike, heading toward Great Falls, we saw a house with a big glass-walled living room that faced the street, and below it a glass-walled entrance room, and each had its own brightly decorated tree. "Two Christmas trees," murmured a companion, and it captured the air of prosperity and solid well-being of the area.

..."You have to go farther out to see the foreclosure signs," said a friend.

... Back to the Christmas gathering. There was ... considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: "But he kept us safe." ...

I believe that all depends on what the definition of "safe" is. The many, many people experiencing foreclosure right now aren't "safe." The unemployed -- half a million more in November -- aren't "safe." The dead and crippled and brain-damaged from Bush's utterly unnecessary war in Iraq, which was sold to those troops as a response to 9/11, aren't "safe," and Bush's regrets don't change that. Not enough was done to keep New Orleans safe, and not enough is being done now. And, of course, as Atrios never stops pointing out, we were attacked after 9/11, with anthrax; five people died and seventeen others were infected.

But hey, Peggy's pals were kept safe from all that, too. So I guess life is good.

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