Wednesday, September 13, 2006
A Misguided Tribute
Monday night, during my evening commute , I listened to President Bush's 9/11 Anniversary speech on the radio in its entirety. He was surprisingly eloquent, spoke clearly, and paid a trite, yet polite tribute to the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attacks with subtle grace and measured aplomb. It was actually an OK speech. For about two and a half minutes.
At approximately 2:18 into the speech (according to my dashboard clock), Bush began to head down an all too familiar path, repeating predictable talking points delivered with the passion of an automaton reading 3 x 5 index cards. Now to be fair, during the first minute Bush remarked:
" I have asked for some of your time to discuss the nature of the threat still before us, what we are doing to protect our nation, and the building of a more hopeful Middle East ..."It was fairly clear of what was coming next. And let's face it, at some point he's going to have to talk about Iraq, arguably THE major issue of the upcoming Mid-Term elections in November. Besides, the Iraq War is the $300 Billion gorilla that is always in the room.
But, like a day-dreaming school girl, I was expecting, perhaps longing for so much more. More compassion, more of the humble acknowledgment that Bush displayed earlier in the speech. Hell, I was half hoping for him to say that he felt sorry for those who lost their loved ones on that horrific day five years ago. And how he wished he could comfort them and try to help ease their grief. You may (or may not) recall his " bull horn" moment in 2001. From atop WTC rubble, Bush announced with confident bravado "I hear you, and soon the people who knocked down these towers will hear you." It was a remarkable moment, a unique display of leadership, a call for unity, hope, and triumph in a time of great sorrow. Five years later, those words ring empty, echoing of unfulfilled promises and a misguided agenda. Yet, in my mind I heard him expound on that pledge, acknowledging mistakes, pledging to get back on track and fulfill his commitment to the American people. That also would have been a great moment, had it actually happened in a space outside of my own imagination.
What we got Monday night was the same rhetoric, the same tired cliches, a bumper sticker-palooza of neo-con balderdash and bullshit. Pardon me for nit picking, but this is the Fifth Anniversary of September 11th. We heard this speech last week, and the week before, and we will undoubtedly hear it again before this week is up, What could have been a brief and heartfelt tribute, quickly morphed into a neo-con infomercial, a polished prime-time propaganda piece:
" It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."And so on. References to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman (both Democrats by the way) apparently were intended to draw comparisons to the Bush foreign policy. Nice try. No fucking cigar. And what about the Bush foreign policy, the one launched to actually kill or capture the 9/11 conspirators? Well George???
"We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people."
"...after 9/11, Saddam's regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take."
"I am often asked why we're in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat."
"We put al Qaeda on the run and killed or captured most of those who planned the 9/11 attacks, including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in 2003, and reportedly is being moved from a secret prison to Guantanamo Bay. Congratulations. But let's not forget the major players still at large FIVE YEARS LATER: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and of course Bush's favorite bogeyman, Osama bin Laden. Remember him? The one Bush claimed he would capture "dead or alive", that he "would smoke him out of his cave", the guy he allowed to escape from Tora Bora in 2001? Well, our appointed President doesn't spend too much time thinking about him, except two months before the Mid-Term elections, when fear mongering is again used as a political tool. True leadership is a skill painfully absent from the Campaigner-in-Chief's abilities.
There will undoubtably be many more occasions for Bush and his apologists to adjust, modify, and pimp the rationale for their misguided folly into Iraq. Choosing the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks however was the wrong occasion. It is often said that crisis gives birth to opportunity. Another catalyst for opportunity is change.
Vote for change this November. Vote to save Democracy. It is every American's duty to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Voting for change is quite possibly the best defense we have.