August 19, 2004
What Would You Do If Someone Told You "America Is Under Attack"?
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
You may find it difficult to watch the video of President Bush sitting in that classroom on the morning of 9/11 and sharing in the reading of The Pet Goat. You may get a certain sinking feeling in your stomach watching the moment Andrew Card whispers to President Bush that "America is under attack." But to truly grasp this moment in history you should try to place yourself back in time at that moment, because President Bush has benefited enormously from our collective hindsight. We all know what happened that day and we judge his pathetic response in light of those events we know so well, but folks that is really not fair. Try to imagine that all you know is that two planes have crashed into two of America’s most prominent towers in New York City and your Chief of Staff whispers in your ear that "America is under attack."
Okay folks, no hindsight allowed. Now, what does "America is under attack" really mean? Remember you’re the President of the United States. Does it mean that the two crashed planes are the full extent of the attack or perhaps one more plane is going to crash somewhere or 10 more planes or 100 more planes? Does it mean missiles have been launched or biological agents are being released or that radiological agents are being exploded? What does it mean to say to the President of the United States that "America is under attack"? At that moment we must assume Mr. Bush had no idea that there are only two additional planes participating in the attack, that the attack was limited to using a total of 4 airplanes as missiles, and that only 3,000 Americans were going to be killed. With no idea of the scope of that statement, with no idea of the potential loss of life indicated by that statement, with no curiosity at all, he sits there too timid to ask Mr. Card to clarify those frightening four words.
Imagine your doctor greeting you and saying, "All the tests have come back and you definitely have cancer." Might you be at all curious whether this statement refers to that funny spot on the back of your left thumb or might you wonder whether your liver or brain are involved in a massive metastatic life ending event. Saying you have cancer or saying "America is under attack" does beg for further clarification. The horrible shame of that moment comes down to what was not known. Don’t give President Bush the benefit of your hindsight. Don’t view his behavior knowing that only 3,000 Americans lost their lives that day. That’s being far, far, too kind to the man.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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