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In Memoriam

September 11th, 2001

NYC, VA, PA

On September 11th, 2001 approximately 3,000 people died and the individual most responsible is still at large – why?

In the intervening six years we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, trampled on peoples rights, created huge new government bureaucracies, and can’t respond as well as the third world to a natural disaster.

Richard Clarke: “Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard. But that doesn’t matter, because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.

8 comments

1 ellroon { 09.11.07 at 2:24 pm }

The Bush administration could not understand why Richard Clarke’s words were received with such gratitude. We had been starving for some sort of acknowledgement that we had been through a life-changing event, that we’d finally joined the rest of the world in facing terrorism. It demanded an FDR or a JFK, a man who would rise to greatness with this challenge, who would bring the nation and the world together and lead.

Instead, we got GWB, who told us to go shopping.

2 Bryan { 09.11.07 at 2:26 pm }

The Shrubbery has never truly been faced with bad news and doesn’t know how to react. He has no human compassion.

3 Michael { 09.11.07 at 4:11 pm }

I was at the FDR Memorial here in Washington last night. There’s a panel in one of the “rooms” there (you can see a photograph at my place) which starts off “I HAVE SEEN WAR” and concludes “I HATE WAR.” That’s the difference between arguably this nation’s best war president (or at least one of its best) and its absolute worst: the Boy Who Would Be King (and most of his passel of poltroons posing as advisers) have never actually seen war, except in movies. They think it’s glamorous. They saw war’s potential to bring a divided people together, to make them forget about troubles and bungling and mismanagement and criminal behavior on the home front and thought, “Hey, that’s just what we need!”

And so we got into Iraq, when any rational person could have told them we had no bloody business there and that it would only cause problems, not solve them. Instead of FDR telling us, as the Great Depression raged and what would turn out to be the second global conflict in as many generations was brewing on the horizons, that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, we got the Shrubbery, who, as I argue in my own memory piece today, seem far more interested in keeping Americans afraid, the better to hornswoggle them out of their civil and constitutional rights in return for a mess of revolting pottage that is supposed to make them feel safer, than they are in actually making or keeping us safe.

And that has made all the difference. FDR will be remembered as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. GWB will be lucky to be remembered at all, except by trivia buffs, in another 150 years. And even then it will be as one of the more colossal failures in world leadership.

4 Bryan { 09.11.07 at 4:22 pm }

I don’t know, Michael, when you open up such a major gulf between your administration and every other since the Constitution was ratified, it stands to reason people will remember. It will take a major force of evil to even approach the disasters the Hedgemony has visited on the country.

5 Michael { 09.11.07 at 4:27 pm }

I really wish you’re right, Bryan. But from where I sit as an historian, I have to say that particularly in this country, historical knowledge is not exactly at a premium these days. When half of our high-school graduates cannot correctly place an event of fundamental importance in our national history (the Civil War) within even half a century, it does not bode well for their remembering something even so monumentally sucky as the Shrubbery, when we stand as far removed in time from it as we do now from the War of Northern Aggression, to use the other familiar term for it.

6 Bryan { 09.11.07 at 6:05 pm }

Somewhere it was noted that a winger had invoked a quote attributed, but not confirmed, as coming from Robert E. Lee regarding the press, [Actually it sounded more like Uncle Billy Sherman, who hated the press].

That was astounding. Has someone failed to inform them that Lee’s army lost, and lost to Grant, who was mediocre at best? Do they fail to understand that Lee broke his army with Pickett’s charge?

Historical analogies are risky if you haven’t done your reading.

More to your point, I’m astounded by the lack of knowledge about the Vietnam era, which I lived. There is an awful lot written about it, and yet you get things like the Shrubbery’s speech at the VFW that displays monumental misunderstanding about the entire period.

7 Steve Bates { 09.11.07 at 7:30 pm }

“…and the individual most responsible is still at large – why?”

I am intending neither disrespect to the dead nor sarcasm toward the living when I say that there are two such individuals, and while one of them should be apprehended and hanged, the other one should be impeached.

You know me well enough to know that I do not seriously advocate hanging anyone. But I do seriously advocate impeachment. The event of 9/11/2001 is just one of the reasons. Bush was… at least… derelict in his duties that day.

If the man who legitimately won the 2000 presidential election had taken the office he won, I think it is likely that the intelligence regarding Osama bin Laden’s plan would have been acted upon, and the outcome might… might… have been quite different.

I grieve for the dead. I cry for the living.

8 Bryan { 09.11.07 at 9:00 pm }

I attended no funerals for those in New York. I see funerals all the time for those killed in Iraq, and have attended some because I knew the families.

We wouldn’t have been so totally blind-sided if Gore had taken office, and we wouldn’t be in Iraq.

New Orleans would have been re-built by now with Gore in the White House and we certainly wouldn’t have the debt we have.